Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Star Trek Movie is Not Really A Star Trek Movie

Star Trek:  Into Darkness uses familiar characters and story lines but it's really just another shoot people and blow up things adventure film.  It is entertaining except that I found the gratuitous violence just boring and tedious after awhile.  "Yawn...okay well...are we done cracking his skull yet?"

While I enjoyed the adventure, when I got home and thought about it I kind of felt like I had been manipulated as a Trekkie to go and see a film I probably would not have otherwise gone to see.

I understand that a movie cannot be as cerebral as the television shows and has to have more action.  But I thought the 2009 Star Trek with Chris Pine managed to make an exciting adventure film AND stay true to the star trek "feel" as well as enhancing the narrative by giving us an insight into the young Captain Kirk and what made him the captain he became. 

Into Darkness gives us no real insights other than the cliche he's a rebel who does what he thinks is right, damn the consequences.  Blah blah blah.

Take the opening scene.  The crew of the Enterprise have violated the Prime Directive.  Personally I think the whole of Star Trek is about the Prime Directive.  Can we really interact with other cultures, other people, without interfering?  What is the price of our influence?  What is the price of our refusal to get involved?  Do modern humans bring good or ill?  Or both?  For me, grappling with these questions is the real draw of Star Trek for me.

There was no such grappling in this movie.  Kirk disregards the Prime Directive because it's stupid.   We are not even supposed to question if he did the right thing; we are just supposed to feel sorry for him that such a talented and earnest young man is thwarted by stupid Federation rules.

I thought most of the dialogue was not particularly clever or insightful to the characters.  If it was a little amusing it was only because it exploits what we know of these characters from other movies and TV shows.  It is disappointing that the movie does absolutely nothing to further our understanding of them as young adults as they are forming their characters. 

Without "spoiling" it, I'll just say the main storyline is just a further exploitation and cannibalization of a familiar plot that does nothing to enhance that story either.

And my final complaint is that in trying to entertain us with the special effects of explosions and giant star-ships crashing into San Francisco, the loss of property and life that would be so devestating to real star trek era people was glossed over.  That is probably the most "un-Star Trek" part of the whole movie.

All in all I give it a "meh".

Monday, May 6, 2013

Who We Are

Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis and daughter Anna

No cemetery is willing to take the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Not just Boston.  Anywhere in the US.  "Send him back to Russia!" is the rallying cry.  

I was not one rallying to insist everybody sing Kumbya and forgive Tsarnaev.  But this is a really disturbing trend.  The man is dead.  His final resting place can only cause more pain if people choose to make it so.  And people are choosing to do so.  This is why forgiveness is so important.  Not because of any love or sympathy or understanding of the one who hurt us.  But because if we do not forgive and let go of our anger and grievances, they continues to hurt us.  Tsarnaev is dead.  We do not hurt him by refusing his body a place to rest.  We hurt his family.  But most of all we hurt ourselves.  Because of this story, he is still in the news, still taking up our attention, our thoughts, our energy.  We are the ones who choose to make this an issue.  

And it hurts us because we become less than who we are.  Civilized people do not desecrate the dead of our enemies.  Desecrating bodies, refusing burial rites, condemning the dead to some sort of hellish after life by what we do, all these practices are from another time, an ignorant and brutal time.  Do we want to be *that* people?

Mother's Day is coming up.  Few people remember the origins of that day.  Anna Jarvis campaigned for this day in honor of her mother who worked to bring mothers of soldiers on both sides of the civil war.  One of the things those mothers did was care for the graves of soldiers of the other side.  These mothers of slain boys did not grieve their losses any less than the people of Boston.  They did not view the soldiers who killed their sons any less "traitors" than we view Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  And yet they brought themselves to take care of their graves. This is our history.  This is who we are.

I don't even believe this is a Christian issue.  This is about who we are as Americans.  If it is no longer who we are, then the terrorists have won.