As a kid, I was not brought up knowing a lot about your traditional nerd culture stalwarts. Neither of my parents are at that traditional end of the nerd scale (my dad likes trains and military history, my mom is more pan-nerd, and thus less likely to get excited about any one topic), so I don’t have childhood memories of watching Star Wars or Star Trek. Actually, that’s not quite true, because I think there may have been a moment when I was 5 or so, when I walked into my parents bedroom, and on their little TV was an old TV show taking place on a space ship. And that was it until I was 12 and first saw Star Wars, and then would see the occasional episode of The Next Generation.
But since then, I’ve been catching up by leaps and bounds. Watching and obsessing over all the Star Wars movies. Watching earlier seasons of The Next Generation, and the original Start Trek movies, along with whatever new one happens to be coming out. I’m pumped about the new series Star Trek Discovery, and trying to figure out how I’ll watch it behind the CBS paywall. So when the latest Star Trek movie came out a few weeks ago, I was excited. More Trek! More space opera! More Chris Pine! But I didn’t know when or where I would see it until the Boy mentioned we should try to go see a screening while driving north with Ben and Nicole for a family vacation. I mean, we’re adults. We know how to get to places on time and if we can get places on time AND stop for a little 3D IMAX Star Trek goodness in there too, all the better.
So that’s what we did. I bought tickets ahead of time, but surprise! The first showing of the day tends not to be too crowded. But we gathered our 3D glasses, settled in to comfortable chairs with our necks craned back to watch a legitimately huge (and LOUD!) IMAX screen, and had a great time.
That’s right – a great time. It’s a fun movie. It feels a lot like an extended, in-depth episode of the TV series, and while for a lot of tv-to-movie conversions that’s not ideal (Ben mentioned the Simpsons movie as an example), for Star Trek it works. You want that classic experience of visiting a new planet, meeting helpful locals, and beating the bad guys just in time. There should be moral quandries, and hard decisions made! Pieces of technology that are hacked together in order to save everyone. So yes – it felt like that in the best possible way.
On top of that, we got a terrific new character in Jaylah. She is no nonsense. She is an engineer-in-the-making who bonds with Scotty over the rebuilding of her ship. She kicks ass and is smart in how she does it. But she’s also deeply vulnerable and scarred by the trauma she’s been through on the planet she lives. Perhaps the emotional unavailability is because of that. I got to the end of the movie, and wished so hard that she’ll be part of the future productions, because she’s a fascinating addition to the crew. A warrior-scientist in contrast to how we see Spock in that same type of role.
Seeing a 3D IMAX production was not cheap. Even seeing it in a smaller town and before noon didn’t drop the cost of the movie, or if it did, it wasn’t by a lot. But this is one of those movies where it just felt worth it. You felt immersed in the beauty of space, and surrounded by the world created on screen. Is this a great movie? No – it’s not going to win Oscars, and that’s ok. What it is is a terrific summer blockbuster that is fun, and exciting, and a joy to behold. And if you don’t find yourself listening to some “classical” music afterwards, then I would be very surprised.
Details: Star Trek Beyond, written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, directed by Justin Lin. In theaters now.