Last week we rode a wormhole down “memory conduit” to discuss our first experiences with the Star Trek films. But one was noticeably absent. While it may seem strange to be nostalgic for 2009, the time has come to crack out some red matter and recall the transition to what I'm still calling the Abramsverse.
Never, not even as small child, had I anticipated seeing a movie this much. At the end of Enterprise, it looked like we'd never see Trek again. Listen, I'll argue til I'm as blue as Shran that Enterprise was good, but I'll concede that its conclusion did not befit the greatest franchise in the history of entertainment.
For years, nothing. Then, rumors. (Remember the one about Matt Damon playing Kirk?) Finally, a deal with J.J. Abrams is announced. We're getting a new cast, a younger cast. But at Comic-Con 2007 Nimoy appears. Weeks later at the Vegas convention we're sure Shatner will announce his involvement – but there's silence. Abrams mentions in interviews that he's not a fan of Star Trek (boo!), but his writers Orci and Kurtzman prove they've got cred (yay!). Then there's a writer's strike during production, leading to fears there can be no on-set revisions.
It culminates to an evening I should be too embarrassed to talk about, but will share with you, in part, in screenplay form:
INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT.
Hoffman lies awake, tossing, turning, sighing.
Hoffman's Wife: Is something the matter?
Hoffman: Yes, yes there is. But I don't want to talk about it.
Hoffman's Wife (with growing concern): What? We have to discuss it. We have to be honest with one another. If something is the matter, you must get it out in the open.
Hoffman (wondering if his wife is half-Betazed): I'm worried about the future. Or is it the past? Oh, honey, I simply can't sleep! I … I just don't know what I'll do if they ruin Star Trek!!
Hoffman's Wife: Go sleep on the couch.
For months, the new Trek film is the only thing on my mind, and I'm not alone. My friend, the writer/producer/Trek Manga author F. J. DeSanto and I make a pact that should either get an opportunity to see the film early we'll bring one another as dates.
And then a phone call. My contact at Paramount in Los Angeles tells me there's a screening in New York that very night and asks if I'd like to attend. One hit of smelling salts later I'm canceling my previous plans. (Sorry, Pop-Pop, you'll have a 100th birthday again soon, right?)
I'm told, however, that I can't bring a “plus one.” Sorry F. J.
I arrive at the theater, check-in, and I'm told, why yes, of course I can bring a guest.
I call F. J. and tell him to get his butt to 34th and 8th as quickly as possible. He's all the way on the east side and, if you are unfamiliar with the way New York works, let's just say that Jimi Hendrix's remarks about crosstown traffic are 100% valid.
He jumps in a taxi and tells the driver to step on it.
I'm outside the theater and now I start pacing. I can't go into the theater and have F. J. meet me; I'm told I must escort him, and the clock is ticking. The theater is filling up, and it is likely they'll be past capacity. I consider the moral implications of ditching him, but quickly remember that I don't believe in a no-win scenario.
“Warp Factor Ten, dammit!” I shout into my cell phone. “We've givin' her all she's got!” he shouts back.
He makes it to the theater and like maniacs we race to one of the back rows. I realize I have to urinate profusely, even though the lights are about to dim. This theater has its facilities on a separate floor, so I run upstairs.
Here's where I confess to not exactly defying cliché where Trekkies' physical attributes are concerned. Activities like running up stairs are as alien to me as the Delta Quadrant pre-Janeway. I'm out of breath, taking care of business at the urinal and so paranoid the film is about to start that I move to conclude my task prematurely.
Yes, friends, to an outsider it would appear that I've wet myself with excitement about seeing the new Star Trek movie.
Back in my seat, out of breath, praying to the Prophets that the darkness is obscuring a clear incontinence stain, I hear the conversation from the group of people behind me.
I've no idea how they got there, but they are clearly not fans. One even remarks, in the most cattily condescending tone imaginable, “this is definitely not the type of movie I'd pay money to see.” Then come snide comments about Trek fans, nerds, comic book readers, etc. I'm boiling with rage thinking of all the friends I know who'd eat live Gagh to be in their place.
But most of the audience is excited and this is evident by the cheers that erupt at seeing the Paramount logo. “Oh, God, people, it's just a logo!” the repugnant man behind me snorts. And that's when I lose my mind.
Normally, I am a calm, gentle, forgiving soul. But the thought of having to endure this screening – this most important of all screenings, where everything I love about my favorite characters is ON THE LINE – while Statler and Waldorf gripe behind me is just too much to bear. I turn around, suck in a ridiculous amount of air, look them in the eyes and unleash the Galaxy's largest SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Spittle rains down on them and they are stunned into silence. I even terrify my friend F. J., who is afraid to offer me any nachos, lest he disturb my concentration.
This feeling fades when we both explode with nerdboy joy at seeing Nero handle a Centurion Slug (even if we call it a Ceti Eel.) By the time Spock and Spock Prime are speaking to one another we're practically embracing and holding back tears.
All the sleepless nights and stress were worth it. Star Trek (2009) isn't just a great film, it is a resuscitation of a way of life. And, sure, you can gripe about the expulsion to Delta Vega all you want; it is important to think back to the anxiety we had before the movie came out, and just how lucky we are that the movie came out the way it did.
And the clowns behind me kept their mouths shut. Of course they did… they enjoyed the movie.
Now that some time has passed (and we've already begun hyper-analyzing every bit of news about the sequel) let me know in the comments what your experience was before, during and after your first viewing of Star Trek (2009).
Jordan Hoffman was the movies editor at UGO.com for more than four years. He has produced two independent films (look 'em up!) and is a member of the New York Film Critics Online. In 2005, he was named the Ultimate Film Fanatic of the NorthEast by IFC. Jordan fell in love with Star Trek through TOS reruns just as TNG was getting ready to launch. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels. He has a funny story about the one time he met Leonard Nimoy.