The Star Trek Experiment: Can J.J. Abrams Convert A Sci-Fi Hater?
Four years ago, as J.J. Abrams' first Star Trek adventure prepared to open in theaters, Katey and Josh embarked on an experiment. Katey, who would occasionally refer to Leonard Nimoy's character as "Doctor Spock" and only knew about phasers because of a parody play called "Set Phasers to Pun!", would watch all six Star Trek movies starring the original cast. Starting with the toxically dull The Motion Picture and wrapping up with the Klingon armistice in The Undiscovered Country, Katey got a full immersion in Trek lore-- and when it came time to see Abrams's version of the story, she fell instantly, ridiculously in love.
Elsewhere at Cinema Blend but many galaxies away, there was Mack, a sci-fi hater who never bothered to see the Abrams Trek or any of the others, and who, when asked about which sci-fi he likes, can only muster up an "Inception is watchable." But this week it was clearly time for the student to become the master, so Katey forced Mack into a sit-down anyway. Mack agreed to watch the first Abrams Star Trek and test a theory the rest of us had that the movie's energy and openness to non-Trekkies would persuade him to get on board. After all, Abrams is going to have the exact same challenge when he takes over the reins of Star Wars. So why not test him on a Trek newbie first?
Our gchat mission: To Discover new worlds, or at least new genres of fiction for Mack to like. To boldly go where no sci-fi movie had gone before. These are the voyages of Katey and Mack and Star Trek Blu-rays on opposite coasts.
KATEY: At this point, do you expect to be converted?
MACK: No. I expect to be pleasantly surprised and think, "That was well made...just not for me."
KATEY: Right now,what do you know about Star Trek? Give me your list of Trek facts.
1) Captain Kirk and Steve Spock or whatever the hell Spock's first name is were originally played by Shatner and Nimoy. George Tekai was also involved in the original show along with some blonde chick who is now on Social Security retirement billboards.
2) I know their ship is called The Enterprise.
3) I know people constantly argue about what classic Trek movies are better than others, but that everyone pretty much agrees Wrath Of Khan is the best thing Star Trek achieved, at least with the original cast.
4) I know Khan is a villain .
5) I know Star Trek fans HATE being compared to Star Wars fans.
6) I know they killed each other with Phasers.
7) I know multiple races are involved including ones with fucked up ears.
8) I know Galaxy Quest was a parody or send-up of Star Trek, I think. Underrated movie btw.
KATEY: And one more thing: are there any sci-fi movies that you do like?
MACK: I can get excited about watching Star Wars now and again. I also appreciate Blade Runner, though I'd never watch that movie again. I liked Looper. I liked Eternal Sunshine. Terminator and Terminator 2 are okay. Inception is watchable. Is Eternal Sunshine a sci-fi movie? It might just be weird. [Ed. note: Yes, it is sci-fi. Yes, it is also weird.]
I don't really know the exact definition, but my wife gets VERY mad at me when I confuse sci-fi movies with fantasy movies.
KATEY: I hope that Star Trek clears some of it up. I'm tempted to give you advice going into this, but I'd rather you just jump in. Can't wait to hear what you think.
[A few hours pass. Mack puts on his copy of the movie. Katey re-watches hers for the 10th time, weeps a little over the death of George Kirk, stops paying attention to everything else entirely during the fight on the drilling platform, gets lost in Chris Pine's baby blues a few times.]
MACK: Okay. I'm ready to talk Trek whenever you are.
KATEY: Let's do it! Let's start with the easy question: did you like it?
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