Trek Unspoiled

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Canon is set in stone but the future is in wide open space. Everyone might have “their” Star Trek, but the Abrams era is a Trek for everyone. At one point in the newest flick Kirk admonishes McCoy, “enough with the metaphors,” but the meta is in steady hands, as an all-action movie unfolds its morals with unfailing navigational skill. It gives away nothing you haven’t seen in ads to remark on the masterful mirroring throughout the movie, the ways in which we compare not just “classic” and “new” timelines but directions in which human choice and narrative invention can go. The enhanced humanity of…let’s just say Cumberbatch, vs. the accentuated humanness of those opposing him; he and his (for now-unnamed) ally wiling to do anything to achieve their aims while the Enterprise heroes are determined to always think of something more to preserve the common good; the immense efforts to keep one craft airborne by an entire model society while one man’s crashes with abandon, to untold innocent-citizen consequences; Pike’s mentor who wants him controlled and Kirk’s mentor, Pike, who wants him to flourish. That last point is pivotal since the movie hinges on the impulsive young Jim Kirk’s continuous re-creation of the rulebook and his right of passage to account for his own consequences. Uncharted territory and immutable principles for living (and letting others live) are an uneasy balance, and create the essence of adventure and of results we don’t see coming. But in this film we understand the quasi-military, semi-utopian Federation, in a widening world being defined as they move through it, as not a set of rules but a laboratory of values, and the movie’s nonstop cliff-jumps and space-races are a symbol of the kinds of risks and dangers that can still exhilarate rather than overpower us. In real life our own planet is in peril and the rest of our own history unseeable yet anxiously awaited; with classic optimism and fresh imagination, Abrams’ Star Trek gives us the future to do all over again.

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