Last month I spent a Sunday marathoning five Star Trek films. They were films 6-10 in the series and the only ones I’d yet to see. It was probably over a year ago that I slowly started to watch the original films starring the original series cast. I’d watch them whenever they were in TV and had watched the first five films.
Of course I vaguely knew stuff about Star Trek growing up. Names and phrases like Spock and Live Long and Prosper are now a part of society’s everyday lexicon. But the first Star Trek film I ever saw was the 2009 reboot – a friend and I went to the cinema to see it and the main reason was because we both watched Heroes and so wanted to see Zachary Quinto on the big screen. I gotta say seeing Sylar with a bowl haircut did make us both chuckle when he first came on screen.
Watching Star Trek (2009) I instantly fell in love with Chekov and he became my favourite character. I got really rather worried when the trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness showed Chekov in a red shirt – because we all know what happens to people who wear red shirts that aren’t Scotty or Uhura. So when I started to watch the original films with Walter Koenig as Chekov I was hopeful that I’d like the original portrayal (because they’re the same character just played by different people) And I did! Walter Koenig was brilliant and Chekov was funny, clever and just brilliant – I got rather worried when Khan held him in the like he weighed nothing in The Wrath of Khan. Seriously the amount I care about that character is quite a lot.
Watching the original films gave me a love of characters that I liked well enough from Star Trek but didn’t necessarily love. For instance, DeForest Kelley as Bones made me love that cranky doctor and appreciate Karl Urban’s portrayal of the character more.
The thing about I love the most about Star Trek is that the crew of the Enterprise is a family. By the end of Star Trek Into Darkness you start to see that family really coming together but even in Star Trek: The Motion Picture you see that this is a strong family (obviously this is down to having however many episodes before the film but still). Even when the films progressed to the Next Generation cast, they were still like a family.
I have to say that the “curse” that even-numbered films were better than the odd-numbered films (until Nemesis (film number ten) and the success of Star Trek (number eleven) broke the trend) is kind of true – or at least my favourite films in the series have mostly been even numbered. My favourites are The Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home (Bones plays around with medical history), The Undiscovered Country (which is actually peace and that’s one of the most beautiful metaphors and quotes throughout the series for me), First Contact and Star Trek (2009).
I just love how Star Trek is about hope and exploration and friendship – they’re three qualities which make any story great. Yes, watching the original films in this day and age, they do look a bit silly and the special effects are certainly something but if the story is good then the execution doesn’t really matter that much.
I’d definitely urge anyone who likes J.J. Abram’s rebooted Star Trek movies to give the original films a go. Watching the originals made me look at the reboots in a different way and gave me an appreciation for some of the changes (both good and bad). I now want to watch the original series sometime soon, whether I’ll go onto watch all the spin off series I’m not so sure, but more stories about Kirk, Spock, Bones and the rest of the Enterprise crew are definitely for me.