Beyond PBS programming, I have three distinct memories regarding television and being in 3-7 age range:
- Star Trek
- Lawrence Welk – my parents liked it…
Every afternoon, Star Trek would come on and I would watch it, not really understanding any of it but thinking Spock looked cool and that the gadgets were neat. I spent hours working on the eyebrow raise that now comes as second-nature. I also remember being slightly scared every time I walked through a tunnel because of watching the episode where Kirk and Company are attacked by things latched onto the ceiling of a tunnel they walked through. Being a cartoon nut, I watch the animated series when it was on as well. Over the years, I watched the movies released with the same mixed feelings as others – some were good and some were not-so-good.
Senior year in high school brought the return of Star Trek to TV in the form of The Next Generation. Over the next 12 years or so, there was at least one Star Trek series on TV – not counting the reruns of the original series. Next Gen got to do some movies, but they quickly fell off in quality and likeability. This soon left a point that had not existed in many years – no movies or series in production with a general audience that was worn out on the Trek theme.
Enter J.J. Abrams…
Abrams had shown a penchant for the genre with the series Alias and Lost; his big-screen efforts of Mission Impossible III and Cloverfield were equally well-received by viewing audiences. So it is no surprise that Paramount approached him about doing a new Trek movie. But there was a problem; the same problem that had killed all of the series and movies.
How to tell an original story while saddled with all of the canon that exists on film, video, and books?
This is where the pick of Abrams made sense. He was not a fanboy saddled with pre-conceived notions (self-admittedly), but he understood the importance of valuing that which came before. His first announcement was that the movie would not be a sequel, but a “reboot” of the series. This had everyone buzzing…
The movie actually has a simple story-line: the origin of the crew of the Enterprise, with a twist. Time travel is used as a device in the movie, but with dramatic consequences. We see how Spock, Kirk, and Bones come to Starfleet and what elements make their characters tick. Add to them the youthful dopplegangers of Sulu, Scotty, Chekov, and Uhura, and you get a pretty decent cast.
What I really liked is how the story focuses on the development of the bonds between these characters. The villain is there as a necessary device to all story-telling, but could have easily been any ordinary villain. Abrams turned everything you know about Star Trek around – all while still honoring what came before him. This is truly the “reboot” promised – one that can yield interesting stories for years to come.
I actually ended up seeing this movie three times between Thursday and Monday. The first time was at an early Thursday screening that most did not know about – my theater was maybe half-full. The second time was with Rich on Sunday morning with a packed house. The final time was with Russ and his mom at a fairly empty theater. The first two times were on quality screens at AMC Altamonte; the third time was on a bad screen at Seminole Town Center. They would be better off converting that theater to a dollar theater.
My advice: Big-screen, full price – one roller-coaster of a movie that does not require prior knowledge (although I have heard reports that it is not worth paying more to see on the “fake” IMAX screens that seem to have popped up everywhere…)