Abrams bridges gap between Star Wars and Star Trek fans
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 22:01
The first movie going experience that I can remember was when my father took me to go see “Star Trek First Contact,” further proving that my dad is cooler than your dad. He talked about the film for a few days before we went, and I remember the anticipation being almost as good as the movie itself. Once we left the theater, two things became very clear. The first was that going to the movies is best when it is a big event, something that you and those close to you can get excited about and an experience that you can all share. The second was that our household would be a household of Trekies, a philosophy that I continue to religiously follow to this day.
In 2009, after pop culture had thrown the last rose atop the “Star Trek” franchise’s coffin, J.J. Abrams, best known for his work on the hit show “LOST,” stepped up to the captain’s chair. He not only revived the series but brought it right back to the mainstream, where it belongs. Not only was the new “Star Trek” giving contemporary life to otherwise dead characters, it was an event-level movie if I’ve ever seen one. Everyone and their mother went out to see it, causing phenomenal word-of-mouth. For the first time in a long time I had that same feeling in a theater that I had with my dad back in 1996. Abrams had brought the characters that we love back, and America was 100 percent on board.
Earlier this week, hot off the newest trailer for the sequel to his Trek masterpiece, Abrams was announced as the new director of the upcoming seventh installment of the Star Wars movies for Disney. I was about to dust off my phaser and support my fellow Trekies against the Star Wars fans – like the Jets rumbling with the Sharks, except at Comic-Con. However, in true Picard fashion, a cooler head prevailed and I began to wonder if this silly rivalry has been a bit unnecessary by now. After all, Star Wars and Star Trek have been competing for top spots in the science fiction zeitgeist for decades now. Like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, they’ve dared each other to be greater throughout the years. Both have had their missteps (see “Star Trek Generations” and “Jar Jar Binks”), but they’ve always given the two most devoted fan bases reasons to be so devoted.
So rather than have fans of each franchise get into a tug-of-war over Abram’s attention, let’s consider the positives. Abrams has garnered a reputation for being a bit of a movie doctor, coming in at the eleventh hour and rescuing troubled projects like “Armageddon” (you know, that really huge summer blockbuster of 1998). The man has a knack for creating movies that become events for the whole country. When he was only a teenage film nerd, he landed a dream job restoring Steven Spielberg’s old teenage films. Since that time J.J. Abrams has kept America on the edge of its seat with “LOST,” “Alias,” “Super 8,” “Mission Impossible III,” “Cloverfield” and many others. His movies hit pop-culture so hard that his name should be on a banner over every water cooler in the country. Abrams understands big budget blockbusters because he’s been learning from the best ever since his youth. If anyone has a shot at taking the troubled Star Wars series and making it into something that is worth friends gathering and a bucket of popcorn, it’s him. With Star Wars in good hands, it means that whatever comes next for the Star Trek franchise needs to be that much better. Luckily, the only man capable of topping Abrams’ rising star is Abrams himself.
The rivalry is over, science fiction is back and it’s in the hands of a visionary director who makes nothing but popular films. He’s proven that he can do something wonderful with one of America’s most beloved franchises. So why not let him take a crack at the Jedi? Those light saber-wielding maniacs deserve to experience the same renaissance that Trekies have been going through for the past three years. After all, fans are the greatest thing in the world, and whether they use the Force or live long and prosper, they deserve to be rewarded for being capable of that kind of love.