Things have been nuts lately with finals, new romance, and the comings and goings of life. I haven’t been able to get time to sit down and watch Goldfinger (my next James Bond movie) until today and then I realized that, post-Avatar, I was in more of a science fiction mood.
Thus, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I’d never seen it before. Not even little parts on TV, I don’t think. I’m kind of glad. It could barely hold my attention as an adult, let alone as a kid (assuming that’s when I would have first been exposed to its bloated, self-indulgent sloth).
It’s not a very good movie, I’d say. I mean, the central scifi conceit is interesting (two hours later when they finally get to the fucking point) but the overall discourse is pretty trite in Star Trek terms. It’s basically making the same humanist point Star Trek often makes: there is something about humans that makes us special, whether or our emotional insightfulness or our ability to hope, love, have faith, etc. And oh look, Spock dovetails with Vger as he has committed himself fully to non-emotional Vulcanism. Good thing Spock doesn’t have to merge with a toaster to find a balance, all he has to do is broshake with Kirk and he’s back to struggling with his dual nature.
And really, while having a space probe we sent out come back with weirdness is an interesting premise the way it’s executed here is just silly. Give us the space mystery, the crew getting back together, the conflicts… but jesus, please give us some depth other than “oh, it comes from Earth and it’s a child-like intelligence… let’s birth it and let it go out to the stars!”. I would have been far more interested in seeing Kirk et al deal with the consequences of creating a transcendental life form, but I suppose that might lead to darker places than “aren’t humans great?”.
Not that I really want to overly criticize the humanism rampant in Star Trek. I’m chiding mostly, I respect the underlying concern: that out in the universe, amidst strangeness and technology and aliens, there is still our ontological humanity to anchor us and pull us through. Or something like that. I always figured guys like Roddenberry simply rebelled against the somewhat post-modern notion that technology (for one) fundamentally changes what it is to be human. Rather, the idea is to posit that humans are an essential being, fundamentally changeable only via free and rational human choice (as with Dekar’s choice to become a God).
In the end, though, I’m with the post-modernists on this one.