2009 comebacks: The cinematic future


When Star Trek debuted in 1966, it offered an idealistic, utopian vision of mankind's future. From the kicky, space-age costumes to the integrated, multinational crew, it suggested that, if humanity ever gets its act together, there will be no limit to its capabilities. In this vision, as future Russians, Chinese and Americans travel the universe side-by-side, they bring hope, democracy, and order to the strange and wondrous species that they meet.

In the ensuing 43 years (my god, has it really been 43 years?!?), this idealistic, Camelot-fueled vision has been replaced with far darker perspectives of the future. From Space 1999's helpless astronauts to Battlestar Galactica' desperate quest for home to Star Wars' pyrrhic fight for freedom, sci-fi over the last few decades has seemed to lack the unabashed, unironic hope that underlay Gene Roddenberry's original vision. Even among Star Trek's various spawn, one could argue that there has been a trend toward observation, not involvement; in comparison with the idealistic activism of the original series,the sequels seem somewhat impotent.

This May, however, the J. J. Abrams-helmed Star Trek movie will reboot the original story. With a young, attractive, volatile crew, the new film promises to be a heck of a lot closer to your father's Star Trek. While the Prime Directive will no doubt rear its head, everything about this film, from the impressive cast to the original's bright, primary colors suggests that Abrams will be exploring the strange new world of American idealism that has been sorely lacking for a long time.