Sci Fi and Subwoofers

And then the Federation’s most fearsome enemy was made sexy.

Last night I went to the Fathom Events screening of the classic Star Trek: The Next Generation two-parter, The Best of Both Worlds.  You know, $12.50 seems like an awful lot to spend to watch a couple of 13 year old TV episodes, but I went with a couple of friends and it’s more about the intangible camaraderie of being among fellow fans of science fiction.  One can say, definitively, that this would be the most intelligent Star Trek related thing to be seen on the big screen since … Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country?  Unlike the big-budget encounter with the Borg in Star Trek First Contact this movie had a climax that didn’t depend on action movie cliche dialogue and inexplicable action to overcome the enemy.  This movie was slower, more methodical, and the solution relied on some ingenuity and even presented moral dilemmas for the heroes. At least they padded the night’s viewing with a somewhat informative documentary, which included an appearance by Seth MacFarlane, giving the fan’s perspective on the shows.  It was kind odd to realize that the man is only six years older than me, and so was in his teens when this show first aired (whereas I was only ten.)

There was a special, nostalgic thrill for me to watch these episodes on the big screen.  My family has fond, silly memories of watching Star Trek: The Next Generation in our old home, where my father had taken special pride in installing a surround sound system (my parents were always somewhat forward thinking in terms of home theaters, having a laserdisc player way back when).  However, the only thing that ever really seemed to take advantage of such a setup was Star Trek, where the ever present sound of the Enterprise’s engines would rumble out of the back speakers throughout any scene that took place on the ship.  For some reason, this background track has seemed somewhat subdued whenever I’ve watched the show on repeats.  It was great to hear that familiar rumble while at the theater last night.

I saw Oblivion today.  I thought it was good. Really good. I don’t get critics’ general dislike for the film, and it seems to mostly stem from the fact that one can pick apart the story and see antecedents in previous films, the most common reference being to 2009’s Moon. I’ve never quite understand critics’ (and fans’) need to dismiss a movie solely because they can identify something with similarities that came before.  I saw this behavior a lot in discussions of 2011’s Drive, where people basically said that it couldn’t be good because 1981’s Thief, starring James Caan, existed (and the even snobbier ones referred back to 1978’s The Driver.)    So how come Quentin Tarantino or Christopher Nolan can wear their influences on their sleeves and be lauded for doing so, whereas movies that may or may not be cribbing from other works–and don’t try to distract their audiences which drawn-out homages–are criticized?  Is “something similar existed beforehand” a valid criticism?  Should only wholly original works be allowed to be considered “good?”

Although one borrowed element I could live without is the presence of the Inception trailer’s iconic deep booming noise, which showed up in Oblivion as well.

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