Monday, December 14, 1998

Dammit Jim, I'm a Dork

In a fit of indiscretion I once admitted to the World's Greatest Helmetless Soccer Player that as a child I enjoyed watching Star Trek. She thus lumped me in with all those Spock eared wearing techies so associated with the show who have developed a near religious like following (which is a tad bit scary in its devotion ) to all things Star Trek. I even admitted to watching The Next Generation because it was the only way I could talk to my nephew who was the show's number one fan (and as you all know, it's very important for me to be able to talk to the kids as part of my ongoing tough love program).

Once she had that bit of dirt on me however, the World's Greatest Helmetless Soccer Player couldn't resist giving me the business. Though she had seen every other movie ever made she insisted she had never stooped to watching any of the Star Trek movies. On the day that the Hale Bop news hit the airwaves she made it a point to call me up to check to see if I had gotten my purple shroud and Nikes out of the closet (I think she was relieved to know I hadn't). I don't think I was ever a "Trekkie" or a "Trekker." My tolerance level of the show is it is OK to watch but I needn't study any of its pseudo philosophies. If I have to watch a TV science fiction show I much prefer Red Dwarf.

Thus as I was standing in line to see the latest movie in the series, Star Trek Insurrection, I must admit I really gave my harshest pair of skunk eyes to the gentleman standing in the lobby dressed in a Starfleet uniform. I may have sunk quite low these days but as this sighting so accurately proved, there is a whole social strata below me. So I'm a bit sheepish to report that I actually quite enjoyed the movie. The energy crackles from the screen and there are bits of humor that work- which is in distinct difference to much of the series' writing.

Insurrection is sort of an update of the second Star Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan. In that movie the crew was battling a madman who was after the scientific equivalent of Genesis. In Insurrection the crew is battling a madman who is after the scientific equivalent of the fountain of youth. Early on I thought I was really in for something special as they hinted at an anti-technology theme underneath the main story line questioning when the good of the many is worth sacrificing the good of the minority. By the end of the movie of course, that anti-technology sentiment is watered down as we see what the series always teaches us: to live a more spiritually pure life requires the rescue of conventional heroes with their computers and weapons (sort of an update of Witness). Like all good Star Trek films, Insurrection gives us a little sermon to ponder: about the benefits of living in the moment; of somehow stopping time to appreciate what's in front of us. Stopping time is what the greatest movies magically do for us, and that this movie doesn't quite manage to do it without openly stating the notion is one of the film's few flaws.

Things I learned and was amused by? That Dr. Bev (still looking fab) is quite the sharp shooter. That in an emergency, Data can be used as a floatation device. Seeing Worf go through Klingon puberty. Things I wasn't so amused by and didn't really need to see or know? Commander Riker in a frisky mood; Deanna Troi talk about her boobs; Jean-Luc get all googly eyed over an older woman (We expect that from Cap'n Kirk and expect better from Cap'n Picard).

Insurrection is one of the better efforts of the entire series. The movie moves at a brisk pace and the villain (played by F. Murray Abraham) isn't merely evil incarnate, but rather a fleshed out (with stretchy skin) character (we're even allowed to understand what is at the root of his madness). I doubt the World's Greatest Helmetless Soccer Player will stand in line to see the film, but if she should happen to think of me while seeing an ad or a preview, I hope she understands just how much she is missing.

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