The New Yorker’s legendarily outspoken film critic Pauline Kael once said of Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan “Now that’s more like it.” At least, I think that’s what she said. Whatever the case, it’s a phrase that went through my mind last night as the credits went up at the end of JJ Abrams’ wonderful reboot, reimagining and reinvigoration of Star Trek.
Let me make my position clear: I’m what you might call a lapsed Trekkie. As a kid, as a teenager and even into my twenties I was addicted to all things Star Trek. I watched every episode of the original series countless times, went to see each movie on the opening weekend and even learned to embrace The Next Generation. In my defence, however, I never went so far as to attend conventions, dress up in costumes or sport a pair of fake pointy ears. As Mason said to Dixon: “You’ve got to draw the line somewhere”.
At some point, though, something went wrong. I began to despise Star Trek. This didn’t happen overnight; there was no Phantom Menace-style moment of clarity. Over time, however, I became increasingly disenchanted with the franchise. The TV shows became increasingly anodyne and even the old Trek movie ‘even-numbered good; odd-numbered bad’ maxim was replaced with a new, entropic holding pattern of ‘even numbered dull; odd-numbered duller’.
Thank God, then, for JJ Abrams. He’s not only created a Star Trek film that’s exciting, kinetic and full of great characterisation, but he’s done something that hasn’t been done before. He’s made a cracking piece of mainstream entertainment that just happens to be a Star Trek movie.
Now that’s more like it.