Monday, July 27, 2009

Why Star Wars is better than Star Trek [Ryan]

Our world is full of conflicts — the Americans versus Iraqi insurgents; Israelis versus Palestinians; PETA versus actual carbon-based, food-eating life-forms; Twilight versus the free world. Beyond all of these is a conflict that touches the outer reaches of the galaxy.*

I’m talking about Star Wars versus Star Trek.

Let me be clear on one thing: I’m talking about the franchises as whole entities, not considering individual mediums. I mean, anyone with the brain of a B’omarr brain spider knows J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek film is light-years — or parsecs — ahead of Attack of the Clones. But when you consider the big picture, what you see changes.**

Let’s begin. Let’s look at the depth behind each. What is Star Trek? I can understand the “boldly go where no man has gone before” allure — but there are some places that man was no meant to go, like Star Trek: Nemesis. (Did you see that one? Felt like someone had puked all the science fiction cliches they could think of all over the carpet.) Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Seriously, though, there are only so many times you can boldly go before you’re boldly rehashing old plot lines.

The there’s Star Wars. Entire books have been written on the mythology of Star Wars, how the saga brings the age-old story of the Hero’s Quest and places it in a galaxy far, far away. The light and dark side of the Force appeal to our innermost nature. Within each of us are light and dark, our own yins and yangs, and we cannot help but find ourselves immersed in a story that highlights the definition of humanity.***

Star Wars redefined special effects and the action sequences those effects could create. The hum of lightsabers could be heard as scarlet and green blades crashed while Captain Kirk was still shuffling around trying to defeat zipper-suited lizard men with nothing but his facial expressions and phasers that shot beams that appeared to have been drawn on the screen with a Sharpie.

Does anyone else think that, as a whole, Star Trek ships look goofy? The Bird of Prey being a possible exception, nearly any Star Trek ship of the line could have been designed by a monkey with a crate of Legos.

While we’re on the topic of vessels from the respective franchises, let’s not fret about who would win if vessels and forces from one franchise were to meet those from another; such a contest could hardly decide which one was better. (But if we were to use such a finicky method to decide superiority, Darth Vader could Force-choke the entire Borg collective and fling their dorky cube ship — remember what I said about monkeys and Legos? — into a moon before they could utter their tired “Resistance is futile” line.)

Both franchises have their weaknesses, especially in the dialogue department. I concede that I’d rather eat bantha poodoo than watch Anakin woo Padme by mentioning how her skin is soft, unlike sand (really, Anakin? Does that one work on Tatooine?), but the alternative from the other universe is to hear technobabble like this:

SCOTTY: Captain, we’re experiencing a hyperwarp electro-skype!

CAPTAIN KIRK: Only one thing we can do! Engage hypermatter polar thrusters and defibrillate the starboard filament decondensors!

SCOTTY: I can’t, sir! We’ve got a wee problem! The electro-nacelle preemptors are gravitizing to the point where the transmogrified crypto pistons are scrambled!

CAPTAIN KIRK: That sounds like a serious problem. Do we still have wireless internet, at least?

There you go: in one galaxy, a thrilling space opera full of love and betrayal, heroes and villains, action and intrigue. It’s the stuff dreams — and a lot of eBay-based collections — are made of. On the other end, you have a story full of promise but that get stale with every new inflation of Willam Shatner’s ego. ****

Join me. Together we will …

Yeah, you know.

* Or beyond the far reaches of the galaxy, if you count the Yuuzhan Vong incursion 25 years after the Battle of Yavin in Episode IV.

** Point of interest: the new Star Trek utilizes elements like man-eating creatures on a snow planet, a world-destroying superweapon that reduces a main character’s home to extragalactic rubble, and other Star Wars elements. Chris Pine, the guy who played the young Kirk, said he used Indiana Jones and Han Solo as his inspiration for his role. See,23739,25346545-7642,00.html

*** No idea what I just said. But it sounded cool.

**** Man, I hate that guy.

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