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The Curse of the Odd-Numbered Trek Film is Over

Updated on March 28, 2020
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty has successfully reviewed thousands of books, films, products, and vacation/retirement cities around the world.

Odd Numbers are My Favorite Symbols

A proverb that has threaded through fandom and critical opinion is that the even-numbered Star Trek® films are losers. At least, they seem not as good overall and not as was well received as the even-numbered movies in the franchise have been.

Until 2009, my favorite film was Star Trek IV®: The Voyage Home, because of its humor, its handling of time travel, beating the odds in danger, diversity of species, a focus on conservation, inter-species communication, surviving in a unfamiliar cultures (a true measure of intelligence), and some other aspects. It is the only movie that I could watch every day.

Star Trek® 2009, an odd-numbered Trek film at Number 11, is the second movie of any kind that I could watch every day. J.J. Abrams, not having been connected with Trek previously, made his own film and broke the curse of the odd-numbered Trek disappointment.

[My favorite numbers are odd, anyway - prime numbers, those that cannot be fractured by 2. Indivisible.]

Star Trek 2009: Star Fleet Academy

(flickr USER: Dallas1200am; Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic )
(flickr USER: Dallas1200am; Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic )

Fan Art (click to enlarge)

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(flickr User: Las Valley 702;Attribution 2.0 Generic)
(flickr User: Las Valley 702;Attribution 2.0 Generic)
(flickr User: Las Valley 702;Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Power in Sight, Sound, and Heart

ST:2009 is powerful in many elements. The treatment of the space-time continuum is a new one in science fiction. It ties together the cannon of the Star Trek® films and novels in a fresh way - cannons that otherwise diverge. Moviegoers, immediately enthralled by the surprising early storyline, begin to shake their heads at some of the early circumstances and then sit up in surprise as the timelines deal a surprising hand that can be played out well, even logically. Drama and comedy come in equal proportions.

Star Trek® is fun again.

In addition, after 43 years, the characters actually transcend the actors, in a positive way that draws in the engagement of the original ST:TOS cast. Leonard Nimoy cried during its premier. William Shatner smiled during a long trailer shown to him on a talk show. During the showing I attended, I did both.

This film is powerfully visual, in dark and light. The impact of film noir is captured even in the colors of this work, a background for visual effects that have caused Lucasfilm's Industrial Light and Magic® to outdo themselves by a magnitude of a hundred.

The background featured in several scenes is filled with giant stargoing vessels larger than several of our biggest ocean cruiseline ships put together (g.e., several-cities large). They brought gasps from several in the audience. Ships and starbases are larger and brighter than they have been in any other Trek film to date.

Looking at this visual wonder, the musical score and sound effects practically slam the audience back into their seats with a magnified energy provided by music-encouraged emotion and professional sound work. We hear new symphonies and old TV themes combined. Entry phrases from ST:TOS and ST:TNG leading into different parts of the score make one's hair stand on end. Among all of this impact, we hear a few certain phrases from past films and TV episodes as if for the first time, in normal conversation, and not, "He's dead, Jim!" Effects combine to becomes a homecoming for the older Trekker and a sure welcoming for a younger audience. Star Trek® is back.

This is first an action-adventure film. ST:TMP was more a thought film and seemed drawn out. The intelligence and philosophical questions are still there in 2009, but woven into a set of vital high-energy missions and purposes with ever changing problem solving demands. The action is fast moving and dangerous, with men flying through the atmosphere, huge beasts attacking out of nowhere, alien thugs we have not seen previously as they are here, and unexpected tragedy. There is also redemption, but at a price.


People, Places, and Things

Person, Place, and Thing is a measure of psychological orientation - Do you know who you and others are, do you know where you are and the date, and do you remember what things are called and how you use them? During the viewing of Star Trek® 2009, you can forget all three.

At the same time, the familiar combines with the new to anchor the whole phenomenon more deeply into the viewer's experience. Older Trekkers might need to lie down after seeing this film. For another generation, the film will be like the TV show This Is Your Life, with everything in your timeline, including your future, being presented to you in a room all at once.

Zack Quinto has portrayed Spock so thorougly that any departure from the TV character is believably a function of the youth of the actual character Spock. The physical similarity between Quinto and Leonard Nimoy is so one, that they walk with the same angle of movement between the left hip and shoulder.

Doctor McCoy is not the actor, he is the Doctor. This portrayal may be the most thorough of the film, and the interplay between Bones and Kirk is funny enough to make you fall out of your seat laughing.

Scotty shows up later and is as funny as he was in the TV series. Uhuru is younger than in the TV series, as are all the characters, but she is still intelligent and at times a spitfire, even though some critics have not enjoyed this character as much as they did others. Chekov is so ambitious, energetic, and over-Russian, that he makes you laugh as well. Sulu is believable from his first lines and enjoys a lot of action scenes, including sword play.

If you miss Star Gate Atlantis, you'll see some of the actors from that series, as well. On the silly side, I can envision Mad TV or SNL presrenting a Star Trek 2009 sketch with Denny Crane and Alan Shore in the midst of it.

Seeing this film will reorient your brain and fill it with energy and renewed hope, for that is what Star Trek® represents on one level: hope for the future. This one also shows how to use emotion for motivation and bonding and how to refuse to allow it to lead you into an uncontrolled, wasted reactionary response.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Patty Inglish MS


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