Saturday, February 9, 2013

KHAAAYAAAWN!


Entertainment Weekly may have just accidentally spilled the beans on the GREATEST GEEK SECRET EVAR OF 2013 (sarcasm, mine) or more prosaically, the identity of Bert 'The Otter' Cumberbatch's character in the upcoming Star Trek movie.

That sucking noise you just heard was the last of my interest in this film draining away. While I enjoyed the first reboot, I freely admit that it was a frakin' mess and I don't think I could tell you the plot beyond, 'how Chris Pine took over the Enterprise using lensflares'. Despite blowing up Vulcan, poor Mr. Nero was something of a non-starter as a villain so this time they went back to the well.

Having the Cumberbatch play Khan demonstrates that the new geek-chic isn't about breaking new ground, but taping into the rich, nougaty veins of nostalgia that well up in thirtysomething adults and drive them to throw buckets money at trivialities they remember fondly from their childhood. It is in fact common in this day and age to see toys proudly displayed in living rooms of people who are otherwise adults (can you remember your parents dong this? any of your friends' parents?). That in itself isn't a problem. I am smack dab in the middle of that demographic and there is a small army of LEGO minifigs currently mounting an assault on our plant stand. And I like that I can finally see a comic book movie that doesn't look like it was made by my cousin Jerry and the costume department at Value Village. Though I will scream like the Black Bolt if I have to sit through one more boring arsed origin story (to use an appropriate geek ref).

But I've seen the Khan/Kirk story played out. I really liked it and hope to see it again. The performances of Shatner and Richardo Montalban were two golden, shining pieces of pure, glorious, golden ham. But it is not 'Julius Caesar' and I do not need to see it reimagined by Abrams, Pine and Cumberbatch at the Mercury Theatre. I've heard the argument that the originals are dated and they are invisioning the story for a new generation. Bullshit. I am not of the generation that watched the original Star Trek. I did not really start to appreciate it until well into the early 1990's, more than twenty years after the episodes first aired and almost ten since the second movie. I watched the tv show on reruns and the movie on VHS, and I'll wager real money that this how most of you saw it as well. The throwback special effects, dialogue and fashions were a large part of the fun.

This new Star Trek isn't a reboot ... its a rerun, but a rerun without the nostalgia that they are hoping to tap. I don't doubt that the film will make a bazillion dollars, but I'll bet that in less than five years Shatner's "KHAAAAAANN!" will still be a cultural touchstone, while poor Cumberbatch will be but a footnote, filed alphabetically behind Bana. Sadly, I suppose that really isn’t the point. 

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