Once I received notification in a fortune cookie that my life would be a bold and daring adventure. I’ve taken that prophetic treat and tried to make the most of it. Last Friday I did something I’ve never done before. I hopped on my new bike (which I found via Craig’s List-reassembled but with almost no use) and rode down gravel and back roads to the local movie theater in Hudson, approximately seven miles. I got there in time to buy my ticket and a large popcorn, wash my hands, and catch a few ads before the previews started. Perfect.
The film was the latest incarnation of the old sci-fi standby, Star Trek. Before going further I should clarify that I am a Star Wars fan, and know very little about the Trek franchise. But I had heard good things about the film, most notably that the space adventure was decent. I’ve no loyalty to the characters, and no knowledge of spinoffs, fanfic, or the Klingon translations of Shakespeare. In fact, I’ve never seen any Star Trek movie before. This was “a nothing ventured nothing gained” exploit. I had no expectations, other than beautiful shots of space. The film delivered them. It was fun. It was adventurous and humorous (at times rather over the top: Scotty beamed into a water pipe?). Matty Robinson of Filmspotting made the comment that the Trek franchise originated out of the science based fantasy (true sci-fi) popular in the fifties and sixties, and the move to action-adventure has lost something. I wholeheartily agree that this film would have benefitted from a lot less punching in the face and “a lot more Tribbles” (one of the few Trek references I know).
It’s an interesting idea: more science in the fiction and less violence. More adventure, less explosion. I’m pretty over the big explosions and heroes being beaten within an inch of their lives. Even strange CGI monsters that look in no way realistic (something with red scales on a frozen, Spock inhabited planet? Did any of the artists take science courses?) would be preferable.
The ambitions of the new Star Trek seem pretty minimal. It is supposed to be escapist fare. A good time, not a heavy-handed political or social statement. (Note: great sci-fi is both. This is why I am a Star Wars fan. Okay, a classic Star Wars fan.) I got what I paid for. I had a good time, and was still a little lost in space fantasy while biking home.
Good sci-fi is also teriffic food for the imagination. It doesn’t stop our imaginations from working by painting the picture too specifically, it propels into using our imaginations more. Hence children (okay, and adults) buy plastic lightsabers and continue to live out the fantasy. As a kid I turned the pear tree south of my parent’s house into a forest moon. It was great. My brother lost three Wicket action figures in that tree, I think. Star Trek took me into space, gave me food for the imagination, but it didn’t last long. It was a light meal, not sustaining. Nothing I need or want to see again, but something I enjoyed once. I can’t imagine enjoying it half as much outside a theater.
On the way home dusk filtered in, and before I was halfway home the sun had set and I was glad to be wearing light-colored clothing and a helmet. I also discovered that the handlebars had not been properly tightened, and the last couple of miles were pretty rough. (Picture the scene: a nearly-thirty-year-old woman on a mountain bike, pedaling down a country road after dark. She’s alternately adjusting her helmet and twisting her drooping handlebars. I’ve no doubt some people looked out their windows and thought, “Who is this nut?” Those that recognized me have probably already dismissed me as crazy.) Now that I am several days removed from the experience, I do not remember the pain, weariness, or frustration. All I remember is the adventure.
In considering the film, it took me a while to remember the things that I didn’t like about it. I had concentrated on the images I got lost in, on the characters whom I had enjoyed. The meal was good. The adventure was good. But just as some dishes don’t ever taste the same outside the restaurant, I’ll remember the experience and not try to separate the film from the watching of it, or the events that surround it. It was better on a bike.
This week the local theater is playing Angels and Demons. I think I’ll just bike around the block.