Tag Archives: J.J. Abrams

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 274: Star Wars — The Force Awakens and Merch, Merch, Merch

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I was delighted to join Linda Holmes and Stephen Thompson — and to share my first Pop Culture Happy Hour panel with the estimable Gene Demby — to process our reactions to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We recorded this episode just a few hours after seeing the movie; the review I wrote to accompany the release of the podcast came from a day or so later. I know my opinion had not entirely settled yet, but we had a fun, lively discussion.

When I sat down to watch the film again two nights later, with Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon seated next to me, he asked if I missed the 20th Century Fox fanfare before the glowing green Lucasfilm logo appeared. We’ve spoken before about how that fanfare always gives us a ripple of excitement no matter what we’re about to watch, because of the sense-memory of Star Wars. Strangely, I hadn’t noticed its absence until Glen pointed it out. (There was a lot of other stuff to notice, c’mon.) Continue reading

Pros and Khans, or Star Trek into Dorkness: How the new movie reflects a 32-year-old battle for a 47-year-old franchise’s soul.

I once attended a midnight screening of the Cadillac of Star Trek films — that would be numero dos, The Wrath of Khan — wherein the projector bulb burnt out right in the middle of Mr. Spock’s heroic death scene. If the theater hadn’t given us four free movie passes to compensate for this effrontery against all that is good and decent, I would’ve suspected an especially cruel prank, perhaps orchestrated by a partisan of the bloodless, squeaky-clean Next Generation-flavored Star Trek, which I suppose is okay if vanilla is what you like.

Naturally, I had to dig up my Khan DVD at home and watch the final 10 minutes before I could go to sleep that night. Spock’s grand and tragic expiration would soon be reversed in a not-so-good movie with the surprise-negating subtitle The Search for Spock, but whatever.

All of which is to say that my love for The Wrath of Khan is mean and true. And it fascinates me that that film, more than any other of the hundreds and hundreds of subsequent Star Trek items (a great number of which — like the entire Deep Space Nine and Voyager and Enterprise series, for instance — I’ve never seen or read), remains the primary source document that continues to guide the cinematic Star Trek universe, especially in the heavily Khan-indebted new movie Star Trek into Darkness.

J.J. Abrams’ second Trek film takes a generation-old, backstage fight over the meaning and purpose of Star Trek and drags it right to the center of the camera-flare-buffered frame. I make my case today on NPR’s Monkey See blog. Continue reading