May 9, 2009

Star Trek (2009)

The picture above shows the cast of the new Star Trek movie. (For a larger version click here.) The cast is fairly young and attractive, particularly Zoe Saldana who plays Uhura. Not to insult Nichelle Nichols, but the new girl on the space ship is far prettier than the original. Zachary Quinto makes a good Spock, and the other cast members look like they will grow up to be the people we remember from the original series.

Okay, the cast is young and good looking, how is the story? Frankly, it’s terrible. The plot hinges on time travel and the creation of parallel universes. This in turn hinges on accepting the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics as opposed to the Copenhagen (single world) interpretation. Now that you’re thoroughly confused, if you’ve gone off to read those Wikipedia articles, lets get back to the movie. Having set up the idea of an alternate timeline in which Kirk grew up as a fatherless child in Iowa, does the story return to the reality that we knew from the original series?

That’s one you’ll have to see the movie to find out.

Despite all of the problems with the story though, it’s miles better than many of the shows and movies that Rick Berman was involved in.

A major quibble. At the end Kirk is commissioned as a captain. He skips ensign, lieutenant, lieutenant commander, and commander to go straight to captain. No midshipman, no matter how tough, brave, or smart ever goes straight to captain.

I also have a couple of quibbles with the whole Star Trek universe. One is the socialist/tranzi aspect of the series. The Federation has displaced individual countries and individual planets as the governing body for all political entities, other than Klingons and Romulans, in this area of the Galaxy. Money has also disappeared. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but the only reason I got up and went to work at jobs I usually didn’t like was for money. That will still be true centuries from now. Second is the disappearance of religion from the series. In the original series you never saw a Jew, a Muslim, or even a Baptist. After 200 years these religions just disappeared? In The Next Generation a ship’s chaplain has been replaced by a ship’s counselor. The only religions ever mentioned are the Bajoran religion, which really comes into full play with Deep Space Nine, and the Klingon religion. The whole Bajoran/Kardassian thing struck me then, and it still seems this way to me, to be an anti-Semitic theme. Bajoran “home planet” equals Palestinian “homeland.” Kardassian oppressors equals Israeli oppressors. The fact that the Kardassians were unattractive reminded me of pictures that you might have seen in Volkischer Beobachter, or some anti-Semitic tract.

Perhaps I’m being too sensitive here. I’m also giving the impression that I don’t like Star Trek, when in fact I do. What I’m trying to do is to point out weaknesses in the series.

Despite my reservations this is probably the best movie coming out this summer. Go see it, and root for Kirk to blast away the bad guys.