I’ve never been a Trekkie. Sure, I am a science fiction fan and I live on this planet, therefore I have met several times the Star Trek franchise throughout my life. I watched a few episodes of all series and some films as well.
The only series I watched from the first to the last episode (though not exactly in that order) was Star Trek Voyager. It happened for a series of random circumstances. It was broadcasted on Canal Jimmy (in Italy), if I’m not wrong, every day in the morning while I was having breakfast, before going to the lab (when I used to work at the university). But I really liked it. I especially liked the character of Seven Of Nine and her inner conflict.
I also started watching Enterprise. I watched one or two seasons, but then I wasn’t able to catch it anymore on TV. I always promise to myself to retrieve it.
My relationship with the other series has always been a little tepid. Although I am too young for the classic series, it is definitely the one that I lingered on watching more often. I was fascinated by the character of Spock (who isn’t?). But the generational gap was evident. I was born in the 70s and in fact I grew up with the science fiction of the 80s (just as an example, with V). And then there’s the not insignificant fact that I am a fan of Star Wars (well, my nickname on the web is Anakina). Not that one thing excludes the other, since they are two completely different visions of this genre. But even of Star Wars (strictly the classic trilogy) what I love most is the cunning, irony, and action, while the philosophical part does not exactly strike a chord on me.
And then there’s Darth Vader: the villain tormented between the loyalty to the Emperor and the feelings for his son. Again, a character that lives a conflict.
Added to this are the surprise effect, the plot twists, characters that take their own destiny and change things.
One thing that used to puzzle me in Star Trek was a certain fatalistic aspect. This damn Enterprise always got herself in bigger trouble than she was able to manage, the characters risked succumbing, but then they made it thanks to a fortuitous event that changed the situation and put them in condition to get by.
Now, as a forty-something (oh yeah!), I find myself developing a passion for Star Trek thanks to this new movie franchise.
Yes, I know, most of the Trekkies hated Abrams’s movies or at least have had critical views on them (I have seen them recently on DVD to get ready for the new one), whilst, as far as I know many of them are appreciating Star Trek Beyond, directed Justin Lin.
But I loved them all, in a crescendo.
I am certainly aware that the latter has a more compelling and elaborate plot (and there are no lens flares!). It seems it has less stretching from the rules of the old universe of Star Trek, rules which I don’t know (and then it is still an alternate reality), so this doesn’t make any difference to me.
But I must confess that what keeps my attention alive are elements such as action, irony mixed with cunning, characters finding solutions without these to fall from heaven (or at least not entirely or they don’t give this impression, because you’re distracted by something else) and especially the way they interact, some of them showing a certain depth because of their past (i.e. Kirk and Spock).
On the first point, suffice it to say that you are talking with a person who doesn’t miss a Mission Impossible, Fast & Furious, 007, and Jason Bourne film. I want to be amazed with incredible action scenes so that I can scream, laugh, and clap. So fistfights, shootouts, collisions, and so on send me over the moon. And the so-called Kelvin Timeline is filed with this stuff.
Irony and cunning fall a bit in the classic American stuff (in Italy we call it “americanata”), so I’m not saying anything new.
But one thing I really appreciate is the least dominant role of the good luck factor (especially for what concerns its perception). Yes, well, of course there is some good luck, yet (I don’t know if it’s just me) if compared to the old Star Trek the characters in this new movie franchise go looking for their good luck. It seems they have a complete control over the situation, even when they’re in the worst trouble. It’s obvious that then they make it (it’s taken for granted), but they make me suffer a bit less about their fate and have more fun for the things they say, their witty remarks or racking my brain to try to understand what the screenwriter will invent to save them whilst making me laugh and wonder.
I think this is simply due to the fact that the way of telling stories, and with it the tastes of those who benefit from them, has changed, so, like many who defend the work of Abrams say, the new Star Trek adapts to the times and the new public.
At the same time I understand the difficulties of the old fans to accept this change (I’ve been already there with Star Wars) and basically I think my appreciation for these films arises from the fact that I’ve never been a Trekkie.
However, I can only say that I adored Star Trek Beyond because of all these elements, to which a quite well thought out storyline is added, even though the basic story remains the same: a supervillain who wants to avenge (but in Into Darkness Khan, which I liked a lot, at least had its own logic in practicing his revenge), creates a lot of problems and is eventually defeated. But in my opinion among the best things in this film are the subplots and generally the interaction between the main characters (equally important), which managed to make me smile and laugh.
And I love Spock, which is the main reason of my enthusiasm. It is a wonderfully complex character, because of the internal conflict due to his special nature midway between Vulcan and human (the moments when he pulls out his emotional part alone are worth the price of admission!), and Zachary Quinto gives a fantastic performance, both for his ability to bring us back to mind the one of the late Leonard Nimoy and for his own special something he is able to lend to the character.
As you can see, just like in my books, again I’m attracted by a character that lives in irresolvable conflicts. In the end this is the crucial element that makes me love a story, because I can identify myself in such a character. Then the barrier between reality and fiction collapses and I find myself fully experiencing the magic of the latter.