Friday, May 08, 2009

Star Trek

As everyone who has been near a TV or a movie theater knows, Star Trek is opening this weekend. I am hoping to take my eldest soon. He has seen all the Star Wars movies, so the violence shouldn't put him off. We can also then begin the debate as whether Star Trek or Star Wars is the better franchise (this form of debate has already started. 2 out of 3 offspring agree that Indiana Jones > Star Wars.)

Although I don't watch a lot of Star Trek today, I preferred it to Star Wars when growing up. This is a bit like the Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones, you don't dislike either band, but you like one better. My preference is not based on David Brin's argument that Star Wars is aristocratic while Star Trek is democratic. No, I think Star Trek just hit a different set of geek buttons, specifically the technology buttons.

Star Wars is justly lauded for creating the look of a worn down universe, but the technologies aren't terribly memorable. Characters yes, but the technologies no. Trek is much truer to the speculative nature of science fiction playing with transporters, genesis devices, cloaking devices, weapon systems, and the like. The ships were also much more varied on Star Trek, although this was less the case initially. As in navies today, there are ships with different roles assigned to them, instead of the very big ship vs. fighter that plays out in Star Wars.

The two major space battles in Star Wars are essentially the battle of Midway played out where an overwhelming naval force (the Japanese) is destroyed by a small group of fighters (US). Star Trek has no fighters, which is a little strange, but then the overall feel of its navy is that of the Napoleonic period. Roughly equal navies patrol vast distances and chance upon one another. The actions are quick and fierce, but rarely decisive. In such a universe, fighters might make less sense. Or maybe the designers just didn't want to make any.

Anyway, I suspect the movie will be a lot of fun, if this Onion News Video is to be believed.

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'

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