Josh Wartena, Opinions Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
No, that’s not a typo, I said Star Wars.
First off, if you haven’t seen Star Trek Into Darkness, go fix that problem, then come back.
Ok, did you like it? Of course you did.
J.J. Abrams’ second Star Trek film is amazing, and not just because there are 100% less lens flares.
The story is engaging, the characters and relationships matter, the cinematography is beautiful and the actors do a great job. You have people the audience cares about, tension, rising action, learning and conflict, secrets and resolution.
That all being said, I never at any point thought I was watching Star Trek.
Star Trek, regardless of the series or movie, has always been more about the technology and universe in which the story takes place than the story itself. The characters and plots were sometimes good, but they were never the driving force.
Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock, explained once in an interview that the Star Trek series tried to stay up-to-date on what NASA was doing. They wanted the science to be as real as possible.
Hearing Geordi La Forge take 30 seconds to explain the ships status report was common. Many episodes focused around the warp drive and the proton-anti-proton reactions that powered the ship. You knew what warp speed was and how it was supposed to work. You knew how long getting through Starfleet Academy took, and you could quote the prime directive like the Lord’s Prayer.
In short, Star Trek was science fiction in the purest sense, and a geek paradise.
You won’t seen any of that is Abrams’ Star Trek.
Now bear with me.
Why do you like Star Wars? Yes, of course the original trilogy, not the embarrassing prequels.
You like it because of the characters, the story and the emotion. None of us knows nor cares how the Death Star laser works. But, our heart goes out to Princess Leah when it blows up Alderaan. We feel the disturbance in the force! And all we know about hyperdrive is that it makes the stars look like lines.
Hans’s 12-parsec Kessel Run boast in A New Hope? A parsec is a unit of distance, not time, but we don’t care! This is Star Wars!
It’s science fantasy, not science fiction. That’s the difference between the two series and the perfect definition for the new Star Trek Movie.
That’s why Into Darkness is the best Star Wars movie since Return of the Jedi.
Spock doesn’t waste our time explaining what his volcano box does, other than freeze the volcano. Ancient cryogenic super soldiers? Who cares, I just like space Sherlock Holmes, but hate him at the same time. The science is dumbed down enough that anyone can understand it.
Yes, Kirk somehow kicks the warp drive back together. That’s ridiculous. But we can understand the “die from radiation in a scary room” part, and you better believe we understand Spock’s anguish as he watches his friend die while they both realize the growth experiences they had together. The dreadnaught-class starship? That’s all we’re told about it, but we see a huge, scary, black killing machine and know what’s going on.
The way we tell stories through movies is changing, and we aren’t abiding by the rules. We’re telling stories about people, without letting fancy CGI get in the way. We’re letting our stories be driven by the characters in them. And it’s wonderful.
I love the new Star Trek Movie and Iron Man 3. I’m hoping I’ll love Man of Steel for the same reason: people matter, and we connect and learn by being told about their struggles and achievements.
Now go tell a story.