Saturday, 1 June 2013

Why this Star Wars Fangirl cried durring a Star Trek movie: a love letter to JJ Abrams.


Star Wars in Concert- 2009.
Firstly, is has to be made clear that I am a huge Star Wars fan. The original trilogy have been my favorite movies for as long as I've been expected to have one, stretching back to a time when most girls my age were watching Disney movies and through that phase where I totally missed seeing 10 Things I Hate About You. I have Star Wars bed sheets that were given to me for a high school graduation present (yes, at the age of 17), which I then proudly displayed in my college dorm room, much to the great confusion of my former prom queen, Kenny Chesney loving, much-more-feminine  roommate (who I got along with very well, for the record, despite the fact that in real life, we would have never even met). I can tell you exactly what is happening in any of the old movies just from hearing sections of the soundtrack, I know what the TIE in TIE fighters stands for (Twin Ion Engine), and I have a life sized cardboard cutout of Han Solo (blaster in hand, battle pose) back at home that was displayed proudly in my bedroom for three years in college, and would be in my room now if it was socially acceptable to buy an international plane ticket for a man made of cardboard.  I’ve been to Star Wars in Concert, dressed as Princess Leia, stood in line for the midnight showing of Revenge of the Sith, again in costume, and I own Star Wars Monopoly, although I hate the game with a fiery passion. 

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s proceed to why I love JJ Abrams. I think you can see what this is all leading to. 

It all started with Lost- that sprawling, mysterious, confusing, action-packed TV show that, perhaps cursed by its own name, left many viewers very lost after the first three seasons, many jumping ship for the calmer waters of 24 and maybe Heroes (I don't really know what else was on- I was watching Lost). However I stuck with it and to this day it is still the only TV show I’ve ever watched live, as it came out, in its entirety. In the digital age we live in, this is quite a feat. The longevity of my viewing had little to do with the plot- as soon as the polar bears showed up I stopped caring what was really going on. It was for the characters that I stayed around, and not just because they were hot (but a little because they were hot). Sun and Jin, Sawyer and Jack (let's forget Kate ever happened- not my favorite), Charlie and Clarie- so many stories to be told and new ones to be made. Those episodes were so emotionally packed that I came to love the characters so much that I genuinely missed them when they were gone (no matter how much I hated the last episode. Go into the light, really? It was all I hoped it wouldn’t be). I have the soundtrack to the first season (of course) and every time the track plays when we thought for a brief moment that Charlie was dead (before the episode when he actually died), my heart swells and I'm instantly shot back to a time when the line between fiction and reality was blurred more to my liking, a time full of Lost themed cakes and many a late night viewing party with those just as obsessed as me. Lost was a leap of faith that I gladly took. 

Lost cake- 2006.

Now, fast forward to the present. Lost hit me in those crucial teen years when everything is more real, when fiction matters as much as real life and when everything I watched/read/saw started to form everything I would one day come to believe/believe in/care about. So needless to say, when I heard that JJ was doing the new Star Trek revamp, my inner teen jumped for Joy with a capital J (see what I did there?). Not everyone agreed, not everyone loved Lost like I did (rightfully so- that shit was wack), but my inner child who I usually let dictate all my adult decisions and feelings could not have been more pleased. Previously, I’d been very skeptical. Why do the old Trek’s need to be redone? Were they not awesome enough as they were? Why must someone always defile my childhood? Were the Star Wars prequels not enough? Although I do like the prequels more than your average nerd, in their own way. Don't judge me- that's a whole different blog post.

Those of you who don’t know me (if anyone ever reads this besides myself and Alex) might be confused that such a self professed Star Wars fan would care about Star Trek at all, so let me clarify- although the Star Wars universe is my heart’s true love, this love also spawned a love of the entire Science Fiction (specifically space related) genre. I can’t relate with people who like only one or the other when they have so many similar qualities. Yes, I know I know I know, they are at opposite ends of the SF spectrum, but to me, they both involve space, spaceships and cool characters, so I’m on board. 

So, despite my initial harsh judgment of the new Trek direction, of course I was going to see it. Duh. Just because I didn’t agree that another Spiderman movie needed to exist did not in any way mean I would ever miss seeing it. Put the word ‘Wars,’ ‘Trek,’ or ‘Star’ in the title of anything and I’ll be in the front of the line. So I did- I saw the new Star Trek movie, and I loved every moment of it. And this is simply because JJ did a perfect, amazingly good job. 

A few weeks ago, I went to see the latest Star Trek film, but this time with a new frame of mind. Not only was I about to see another film by a director that was fast becoming one of my favorites, one that I knew was going to most likely be very, very enjoyable and action packed- this time it was so much more. This time, I was seeing a film by the director who is going to make the next Star Wars film, something everyone is very nervous about. And this is where the crying started. And the spoilers- beware. 

In the end of Star Trek, Into Darkness, we (those of us who have seen the original series films) were presented with an all too familiar scene: the Enterprise is about to die, along with everyone on board, and it’s up to one crew member in a suicidal act of bravery and selflessness to save the day.  As our favorite green-blooded alien once said; the needs of the many out way the needs of the few, or one.  But this time it was not Spock making the ultimate sacrifice, its Kirk, showing us JJ’s parallel universe in full force.  From the moment that Kirk punched out Scotty so he wouldn’t follow him I knew where it was going- honestly I should have guessed it earlier, like the moment that Cumberbatch turned out to be Khan. Either way, by the end of the film we’re presented with the iconic scene of Spock and Kirk separated by glass, but this time Kirk is the one dying to save the ship. And I cried. I’m not talking huge, crocodile tears or anything- I haven’t cried like that since Toy Story 3- but still, my eyes welled and one did manage to fall down my cheek. 

But the funny thing is that I was not crying for Star Trek. I mean, I was, but that wasn’t the main reason. I was crying for Star Wars. Because if JJ is able to do what he’s done for Trek again for Wars, we’re in for one hell of a movie. Trek was cast to perfection, had amazing space fight scenes, an awesome story, lots and lots of funny bits, and basically everything you need to produce a great Science Fiction movie. So, like one of my friends so poetically put- just like saying an ex’s name at that exact wrong moment, my first thoughts as the credits rolled were not of the amazing Star Trek movie I’d just seen, but of the incredible Star Wars movie I’m sure is yet to come. 

I’ve heard a lot of criticism of JJ for bringing back the Spock/Kirk death scene- I’ve heard that it didn’t carry, for other people, the same emotional weight of the 30+ year relationship between the characters that it did in The Wrath of Kahn, and therefore didn’t do the same thing.  But I completely disagree- I think it carried that entire 30+ relationship, plus the new one that we’ve so keenly watched since JJ rebooted the story. We were not just watching a friendship literally die, but a friendship that we’ve already seen start and end before, and to me that carries more weight than the critics give it credit for. But that’s just me- I’m a sucker for this kind of thing anyway. 

What this all boils down to is this: I have faith in JJ Abrams. I have faith that he will make the Star Wars movie we've all been waiting for, the one we were disappointed to not find with the prequels. JJ Abrams is, if nothing else, clearly a Fanboy himself. He respects all that has come before, he respects the cannon he is working with, and clearly works very hard to give audiences the same feeling they did when watching the originals. That’s all I can ask for. I know a lot of people are involved in making a movie, and a lot of other things can still go wrong, but still- I have faith that JJ will pull it all together and make something new with the same fun and excitement of the old movies we all love so dearly.

It’s a leap of faith. Who’s with me?

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