A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 334 – Trekkies 2

Trekkies 2 – January 28th, 2011

I think that by this point it should be rather obvious that Andy and I are most definitely Trekkies (that’s the term I was raised with and it’s the term Roddenberry used and that’s the entirety of my reasoning). We bought Star Trek V specifically for this project. We watched it! We have spent the past two weeks watching a Star Trek film every night. After Wrath of Khan we put in the reboot even though it was late and we’d be watching it for this project in the next week. After some of the TNG movies we put in episodes from the series. We even watched one (Masks) before we put in tonight’s movie. We don’t do cons or collect stuff (though I do have a few action figures from early in TNG’s run – I played with them and they are not mint in box) but let’s face it, these fandom documentaries speak to us because we fit right in.

Seven years after the original documentary Denise Crosby returns to guide us through even more Trek fandom. This time we get to leave the US and meet fans in other countries, see how they show their love of the show and visit their conventions. We also see more of the US and get to revisit some familiar faces and meet plenty of new people. More aspects of the fannish universe are explored and there’s some meta commentary where the fans in this documentary talk about the portrayal of fans in the first one. And once again, while Crosby is the one going around from country to country – in theory – the focus is mostly on the fans themselves, which is just perfect in my opinion.

This documentary really does make an attempt to show a wide variety of geographical areas. They travel to several different countries and talk to fans in each, both at conventions and not at conventions. They visit stores selling merchandise and they visit homes full of posters and tapes and figures. It’s fantastic, because it quickly becomes apparent that there are some wonderful differences in terms of cultural influences and some amazing similarities in terms of the overall tone and sentiments. Every group of fans seems to have imbued their activities with parts of their culture, making it distinct while keeping it immediately recognizable as Star Trek

They start in Germany and it’s largely like what’s in the first movie, but in German and with German accents. Then it’s off to London where we meet a dude who’s constructed an elaborate set in his flat. The flat would be difficult to live in, but it’s amazingly intricate. Then to Italy, with more conventions and fans and cosplay and oh, the food. We visit Brazil, where a publisher of Portuguese language Trek items says “This is a wonderful way to be crazy.” They go to France, where it still seems like it’s not terribly accepted as of the time of the movie’s filming but people love it anyhow. Still, I would love to have a Star Trek quiche party. Australia gets a visit too, and Serbia.

The bits in Serbia are really the most inspiring to me. The fans there talk a lot about the show being a symbol of hope for them. They visit the first Star Trek convention in the area and I am not ashamed to say that it brings tears to my eyes. The fans there are just so amazed and thrilled to find each other and have the opportunity to get together. What’s really wonderful about all the countries they go to and all the people they talk to from all the cultures represented is that they’re all saying the same thing. They use different worlds and different languages, but they’re talking about loving the ideals and finding a space where they can be comfortable and enjoy being who they are. And in every country there is a feeling that having Star Trek is a hugely positive thing.

And there’s still plenty to explore in the US too. We visit with Daryl Frazetti and his cats, we see Barbara Adams again, and oh, oh there’s more Gabriel Koerner! He’s so much more aware of himself here, looking back on his teen years with fondness but also knowing that yes, he was, in his own words, socially oblivious. But he’s done well for himself, working on CG stuff professionally and married and all, so who cares, really? There’s Star Trekkian Shakespeare, filking, more conventions. There’s a whole section on the charity work done by fans and fan organizations as well as the cast and crew.

One major difference I noticed between the two documentaries is that while this one does have quite a few little bits and pieces from various cast members, they’re mostly newer cast from the newer shows and the clips are short. They’re little reactions to questions, not longer musings on the general topics. And I don’t mind that. After all, we did get thoughts on the show and the universe from quite a few of the bigger names in the first documentary and in this one we get some people who weren’t a part of it all yet. But we also get a whole lot of fans, and the title of the documentary is a reference to the fans, so that’s fitting.

There’s also a lot of focus on fan creativity. It’s not just about wearing uniforms and going to conventions and having parties and watching the show. It’s about making fan movies – and there are several, in different countries. It’s about filking, which gets a good little clip. Fanfiction is mentioned again and shown to be more than just the Kirk/Spock stuff (I mean, come on, there’s got to be some Chekhov/Sulu too, right?). They talk about the roots of dressing up for conventions (check out Forrest J. Ackerman dressed up for the 1939 WorldCon) and really get into the world of fan art and all the myriad ways people express their creativity and funnel it through the Star Trek universe. There’s a whole section on Trek-themed rock bands in Sacramento. My personal favorites are Warp 11, who seem pretty rockin’ to me, and Stovokor (a Klingon metal band – perfect, right?).

Overall I think a second documentary had to be made. There’s just so very much out there. It says something to the phenomenon that is Star Trek that there is such a vast amount of fandom around the world. It’s inspiring and comforting and thrilling to so many people and they love it so much – we love it so much – that it’s impossible to hold back. There’s a whole extra hour of footage on the disc! We watched it after we finished the documentary and loved every additional minute. It’s just wonderful to see so many people enjoying it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there’s still enough unexplored fandom out there to warrant a third installment, though who knows if it would ever get made. Still, if it does I’m sure we’ll watch it. We’re just like that. We’re Trekkies.

January 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trekkies 2

January 28, 2011

Trekkies 2

As with yesterday’s loving look at those eccentric fans of Star Trek this is a series of interviews with Denise Crosby at conventions. But this movie leaves the comfortable confines of North America and explores Star Trek fandom across the globe. Yes, we catch up with some of the break out stars of the first Trekkies movie, but it’s the international fans that make this movie special.

There’s just something so cool and surreal about people in Star Trek uniforms speaking German, Portuguese, Italian and French. Fandom transcends all borders and boundaries. People dress up as Klingons in every country in the world apparently. There’s something surreal and comforting about that, which is what this movie is trying to convey I think.

This movie came out seven years after the first Trekkies movie, so part of the fun is re-visiting the BNFs featured in that film. Barbara Adams doesn’t seem to have changed at all. Except that she’s been promoted from Lieutenant Commander to Fleet Admiral. She’s still working in the print shop. She’s still wearing her uniform and spreading the word of Star Trek. We also get to see Gabriel Koerner and his lovely wife – proof, he points out, that nerds do sometimes get laid. Note also that he did the visual effects and starship flybys on the DVD menus and in the film.

The most emotional moment in the film is when Denise attends the first ever Star Trek convention in the Balkans – the former Yugoslavia. One attendee says that there had been some doubt that a Serbian Star Trek convention could actually work because, he says, every Serbian Trek fan thought that he (or she) was the ONLY Serbian Trek fan. It’s a beautiful moment captured on film to have all these closet nerds discovering each other. It perfectly depicts the sense of community that fandom engenders and how sharing their love for this seminal sci-fi series can help to bring people together. The notion that Star Trek helped so many people through hardship brings tears to my eyes. One fan talks about how so many people find themselves when in times of trouble longing for some golden past that probably never existed, and contrasts that with the Star Trek fan’s tendency to look forward to a better future instead.

We get to see a lot of fan productions in this movie too. In German. In French. There’s a fantastic looking Star Trek adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Gabriel Koerner is producing a Star Trek spoof in his free time (and I keep expecting Wil Wheaton to walk on to his set.) There’s an earnest but amateur German production that involves a meeting between TNG and classic Trek captains. (I was amused to not that although most of the German production was in German, the Klingons still speak Klingon – which is its own language and apparently is not changed no matter what language the rest of the show is translated into.) There’s a movie set in the old west where the co-captains of the USS St. Paul have to battle a backwards and corrupt sheriff. And everybody seems to have a trailer for their work. (A couple of trailers are featured on the DVD.)

There’s a great sequence that follows the Sacramento Star Trek theme band movement. There’s the classic Trek band No Kill I (taking their name from the thoughts Spock reads from the Horta.) There’s also NKI: The Next Generation and NKI: Deep Space Nine. The best actual songmanship seems to come from Warp 11 – and I’ll admit that I am tempted to dip into the internet and see what songs of theirs are available for download. Then there’s the Klingon metal band Stovokor – they are simply awesome. Really, how could a Klingon metal band go wrong? We also are treated to a much better representation of the filking phenomenon than in the first movie. Here we actually get some quick excerpts from real filk artists, and their songs are haunting, silly, and catchy.

Really this movie is just more of the same from the first film. More interviews. More costumes. More fans. More people brought together by a shared love of Star Trek. If you end up watching this DVD be sure you look at the deleted scenes. Just select “play all” because there’s an entire extra movie worth of material to watch. We put it on because we like to watch special features and fifty-five minutes later we were still smiling and laughing along with the movie. As with our Star Trek extravaganza as a whole, we simply didn’t want this movie to end.

January 28, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment