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Star Trek Junior: A Review

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star_trek_posterThe inevitable has happened. After many years coasting into oblivion (for the non-Trekkies), the Star Trek franchise has released its eleventh film. Yes, there have been eleven films since Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Dopey, and Doc left the television series, learned that they couldn’t make money doing anything else except Star Trek conventions, and came back to film the first movie. But what does it mean?

It depends on who you ask.

For instance, many Trekkies (those loveable people who are so charmed by the franchise that they dress in costumes, play with imaginary phasers, and even have their own religion) may not like the movie. Why? Because unlike all of the other movies, it does not continue its story from any of the television series: William Shatner does not rise from the dead to command the USS Enterprise, again (although, there is an interesting twist to an old character in the new film); Captain Picard doesn’t leave his vineyard to wax philosophical and his bald head with Q; characters from Deep Space Nine and Voyager didn’t give the silver screen another shot with even a cameo; Scott Bakula didn’t get to explain the sensual nature of green women. The movie wasn’t even animated.

That was one thing that all of the other Star Trek movies had going for it: some sort of continuity for fans. You already know the characters and, for the most part, enemies. You knew the ins and outs of whatever version of the Enterprise the crew was flying around in. It was a comfortable place for die-hard fans, so much that you may not mind if Kirk and the crew decided to go back in time to pick up a couple of whales, bring them back to the future, and have them tell a giant, flying space turd not to destroy Earth. If nothing else, it kept pace with the original series.

Enter this new movie. With the depiction of Zachary Quinton (Sylar from television’s Heroes) as a pointy-eared Vulcan and Chris Pine (of…The Princess Diaries 2?) as an arrogant blonde with some wit, it’s no surprise that the movie is, indeed, a new portrayal of the old leg of the franchise. You would have had to live in a cave, or Nebraska, to have missed those hints. However, for better or for worse, the storytelling for this new film is nothing like the others. It does not have much to do with the original series’ timeline.

Sure, we find Vulcans, Romulans, particle transporters, phasers, Starfleet Academy, the Vulcan peace sign, and Winona Ryder in the movie. We even get many of the quirky taglines from the characters, but the feelings of these devices doesn’t seem like homages or parodies to the original. These screen devices are set up for the viewers that this movie seemed geared to: young, non-Trekkies.

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This movie was a move to dislodge the franchise from the cycle it was stuck in of catering to fans of the television series, and instead try to appeal to the masses. It worked. By starting the story again, but with a twist(which I will not ruin for you), the necessity to really “get” a Star Trek movie by knowing the television show was tossed out.

Maybe that was why I liked this movie so much. I am not your normal Star Trek fan. I’m not a fan at all. I liked Wrath of Khan like everyone else in the world, but apart from that I watched the original series with tongue firmly planted in cheek, and randomly saw episodes of The Next Generation when I watched television with my father. Did I see all of the Star Trek movies that came out? Yes (although I don’t remember the first movie all that well.) Does it matter to me? No.

enterprise As a movie on its own, it was quite amazing (I expected to hate it.) The opening part of the movie, as cheesy a plot device as it may be, was fantastic. I think I got a little misty-eyed. From there, all hell broke loose. Acting, special effects, phasers changing from “stun” to “kill,” Uhura half-naked, the spaceships exploding, everything popped.

It’s hard to explain the great things about this movie, as it is all spoiler. Not just storyline, but emotional impact as a movie itself.

There were some things about the movie that definitely made me cock my head. For one, the storyline was old: “It’s been done at least five times in the same movie series” old. The characters and events may be a little different, but it is still the same idea. You’d figure with this brand new push into popularity, Star Trek could have chosen a less overdone theme.

Also, the title of this review must be addressed: Star Trek Junior. What makes this movie appeal to the younger, less-Trekkie public is also what waters it down. Everything has a youthful, annoying freshness to it that the original never had. Even the new uniforms are “prettier” than the old uniforms. And, of course, let’s not forget the politically correct version of the well known monologue: “Where no one has gone before…” Incorrect. You’ve already gone there, before. As a man.

Gripes aside, I did enjoy the movie, as a non-Trekkie (unless I’m in the closet. You’re welcome to tell me so.) I give this movie 4 out of 5 half-naked green alien women.

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Patrick began collecting a library of VHS tapes, DVDs, and CDs when he was young, and continues to build a library that could easily double as a video store and/or a revitalized Tower Records.

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