Star Trek 2.0
J. J. Abrams updates the classic sci-fi franchise.


Jonah Goldberg

So J. J. Abrams has reimagined (“rebooted” is the popular term) the Star Trek franchise by starting over with a whole new cast playing James T. Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Spock, and Sulu — now with twice the macho gayness. The movie purports to tell the story of how Kirk and Spock became friends and how Kirk became captain of the Enterprise. In order to placate the fan base, Abrams uses a time-travel gimmick that preserves the original Trek universe somewhat.

If you don’t know that much, you’re probably not reading this article. And if you are reading it and didn’t know, you probably don’t care too much. Still, I’ll save the spoilers for the end of page two (you’ll be warned).

Actually, let me just dispense with the people who only want to know if they should see it. The answer is, Yes. It’s an enjoyable, good sci-fi action movie. The cast is surprisingly good — particularly Karl Urban, who plays McCoy. It helps to have passing familiarity with the TV show, but it’s far from required. Indeed, in a sense, less is more — because the more you know about the Trek canon, the more likely it is you’ll have problems with the movie.

Okay, now, back to the important stuff.

The do-over debate has been intense. It’s been “amok time” for Trekkies and the “Red Hour” festival for Trekkers. Now, strictly speaking I am neither a Trekkie nor a Trekker (think, roughly, Shia vs. Sunni), in that I neither own an authentic Star Trek uniform nor have I even read a single Trek book, never mind committed them to memory (like so many Trekkian hadiths). But I am something of a Trek fundamentalist. By that, I simply mean that I take internal consistency seriously.

I don’t mean to sound like Christopher Lloyd in Taxi whining that Gene Roddenberry had Romulans do “things no Romulan would ever do,” but consistency matters. Successful artistic realms — be it Narnia or Middle Earth, Arrakis or that faraway galaxy a long time ago — seduce us and hold our loyalty by seeming possible, plausible . . . real. It’s easy to mock fans who get too caught up in the “it could really happen!” spirit, but last I checked, plausibility was a major aspiration of art and even good entertainment (if “art” is too snooty for this discussion). And for the Star Trek franchise, internal consistency is a big part of the show’s success. By staying somewhat loyal to the details, or what some call “the canon,” the franchise has earned the loyalty of generations of Trek fans

And that’s why I was so annoyed with renowned Orthodox Jewish soft-porn photographer Leonard Nimoy’s statement that fans need to “open their minds.” “Canon,” Nimoy explains, “is only important to certain people because they have to cling to their knowledge of the minutiae.”

This creeping Obamaism annoyed me greatly. Recall how last spring, then-senator Obama explained that those stupid hicks in Western Pennsylvania wouldn’t vote for him because they were too busy clinging to their skygod and boomsticks, not to mention their bigotry and xenophobia? It seems in Nimoy’s view, the people who made him a rich celebrity rather than the second fiddle has-been on a short-lived sci-fi TV show 40 years ago need to get over themselves. How convenient he tells us this at age 78, after a lifetime of cashing in on those silly minutiae-clingers.

Nonetheless, I was willing to entertain the idea of a Star Trek 2.0. This sort of thing has been a trend for a while now. James Bond, Superman, Batman — just to name a few — have been reinvented or updated in recent years, mostly with very good results. Why not Star Trek? Particularly since almost all of the Star Trek films suffered from what professional cineastes call extreme suckitude. The result couldn’t possibly be that much worse than the first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, or ninth Star Trek films. And guess what? The new Star Trek movie is better than all of those films.

Still, I was prepared to be furious at all of the heresies, but for the most part I wasn’t. I enjoyed the movie. Although, I will defend my peeves against all enemies.