Last Sunday, I went with my son to see the new Star Trek movie. Visually, the movie is a masterpiece, although some of the special effects seem a little overwrought for my taste. But there was something missing, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
My son thought the movie was wonderful: “There seems to be more action, more fun. The older Star Trek was tied up in procedures, and the Prime Directive and such.”
Aha! That was what gave Star Trek its satisfying snap, and what was missing in this incarnation. Starfleet, we imagine, had its origins in earthbound military forces, and the earlier versions were bound to military traditions of respect and discipline. The current version, striving to be more like Star Wars, cuts loose from the tradition: the leadership is a bunch of old fogies, and rules are for sissies.
While the current movie establishes a basis for a new generation of Kirk and Spock adventures, they’ll probably follow the same pattern. The older movies presented serving on a starship as something to aspire to; now anyone can do it if they can bend enough rules.
Rather the same thing happened with James Bond: the previous incarnations of the character, through Pierce Brosnan, presented a man who lived and worked by his wits. The Daniel Craig Bond, in contrast, is an Energizer Bunny who dances through machine-gun fire, but doesn’t seem to have much to say.
No, I can’t go home again, except perhaps on DVD.