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Friday, May 01, 2009

...even in one of the series' high points, there's this lingering suspicion that nostalgia and sentimentality is all these films ultimately have to offer.
Jason Bellamy and Ed Howard at the House Next Door consider the various cinematic failings of the first six Star Trek movies.

I've written before, I think, about the Trek franchise's basic structural limitations, and how I've grown so sick of them that I find both episodes and movies from the series essentially unwatchable now. I think Bellamy and Harris do a good job unpacking that, and while I'd quibble here or there I find it hard to argue that taken as a whole Trek (like Star Wars) just isn't very good—or rather that it's fairly good at being fairly bad, which is kind of the point. There's a long history of popcorn-style fare in SF, from the Buck Rogers series onwards; quantitatively it's probably the bulk of SF ever produced, by a country light-year. But distill out the nostalgia and the ephemerality of spectacle and it's hard for that sort of material to get me excited anymore—and that's even before we start talking about the political perniciousness of a certain kind of Trekian science fantasy which I find both anti-historical and anti-ecological, implicitly arguing that technology will save us as a culture from ever having to take responsibility for our consumption, or to even simply think things through.