Monday, 2 March 2015

Review: A Doctor Who Fan on Star Trek (2009)

To boldly go where no Whovian (well, not this Whovian) has gone before...

Recently, hundreds of people across the world fell into mourning over the sad death of Leonard Nimoy, the perhaps most beloved actor from the long-lasting Star Trek. Myself, I felt the loss of such a bastion figure of popular culture and thought, in his honour, this would be a good time to rectify something: I'd never really seen any Star Trek.

Well, not properly. I'd vaguely watched Star Trek Into Darkness for Benedict Cumberbatch but most of it flew above my head so I don't think I can really count it. Initially, it might seem odd that I had never given that other great sci-fi show a go but Trek's sterile-looking, emphasis-on-big-ideas take was so far from the (generally) cheerful, ramshackle feel of Doctor Who that they might as well have been different genres. I didn't dislike the idea of Star Trek I just hadn't given it a go. Having committed to it now, though, I decided a good starting point was the film I probably should have watched first: the 2009 reboot.

Firstly, I certainly enjoyed it more than Into Darkness. That film (apart from being, I gather, a strange semi-remake of 'the' classic Trek film) left me feeling like I should be caring for the characters but I didn't know them well enough to. Here, however, I did and the film does a really good job of introducing the characters to fresh eyes, particularly Kirk and Spock. Chris Pine strikes me as something of a generic Hollywood leading man but he does fine as a young hot-headed Kirk while Zachary Quinto impresses as the apparently emotionless Spock. Much like Bond in Casino Royale, it doesn't feel like a cheap prequel but an interesting exploration of how these characters developed into their more familiar selves.  

While watching the film I wondered what the Who equivalent would be. While Doctor Who has had film versions separate from the series (two movies were produced in the 60s starring Peter Cushing as 'Doctor Who'), in terms of awe factor it's more similar to 'The Day of the Doctor.' They both use time travel to give the franchise a new lease of life (rebooting the universe/saving the Time Lords), different incarnations of characters (Three Doctors/two Spocks) and lots of kisses to the past (even I got references like 'I have been, and always shall be, your friend'). Much like I imagine a new Who viewer watching 'Day', I felt like I was missing out on something - being new to the party - but was still sufficiently swept along.

Overall, I'm impressed that the film manages to both keep the original in tact while rebooting it (I've always found straight reboots to be a boring way of ditching continuity - Who and James Bond know that all you have to do is ignore all the stuff you don't want and let the fans work it out) although the plot was a little convoluted. That said, I enjoyed it enough to be willing to watch more Trek in the future. So thank you, Mr Nimoy, for your integral role in Doctor Who's rival from across the pond. This Whovian (Vulcan) salutes you.

'Pleasure to meet you, Mr Spock' - Perhaps the two aren't quite so different, after all...


  1. Hooray for your venturing into the Star Trek universe, even if for very sad reasons. And the Star Trek reboot film is where I began, too, and it caught my interest enough to send me back to the original series. It's all Spock's fault. I confess I didn't much like Chris Pine's version of Kirk (there is a fine line between charm and smarm and Pine's Kirk falls the wrong side of it.) I watched the reboot film when it was on TV, casually, so that I could see Into Darkness in the cinema with my friends, and Spock was the character who stuck with me for days afterwards. I was completely surprised to like him so much, for this logical character to strike such a chord with emotional me. I had to find out more about him. Zachary Quinto did an excellent job of playing such an iconic role, made me interested in Spock, but it was Leonard Nimoy who made me love him. Such a talented actor, and a wise and compassionate man. He will be sorely missed.

    Live long and prosper.

  2. Oh really! Yes, Spock is definitely the best one. I love characters who present themselves one way but really you know there's another side to them underneath and Spock is the classic unemotional/actually has a big heart type like Holmes. Without seeing any of the originals, I loved Nimoy as older Spock and was impressed he got so much to do in the film. Clearly he was one element they did not want to let go. It is so sad that he won't be appearing in any more.


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