If you’re one of the few people who haven’t yet seen the new Star Trek film, stop reading right now and go to the theater. Of course, if you’re one of the few people reading my blog, chances are you’re the sort who’s already gone and you’re wondering what took me so long.
My younger brother, the pastor in El Paso, called about two weeks ago to ask if I’d gone. You have to understand, while my brothers and I have strong bonds of affection, we live in very distant parts of the country, and we’re all busy enough that literally years can go by between calls.
I know: It’s weird. But even weirder is for my brother to call out of the blue, ask if I’ve seen a film, and tell me to call him right after I do. Obviously, he was excited.
Me, not so much. First off, I’m old enough to remember the original series when it first aired, to have fallen in love with it, and to have felt utterly betrayed when the first film came out twenty years later. I mean, that series had been all about three guys talking out problems: Spock (mind), McCoy (heart), and Kirk (will). Then some Hollywood hacks with more money than brains, heart, or principle put out a special effects extravaganza with virtually no dialog! No dialog? Really? And then, to kick me in the ‘nads, five films later, they have Kirk die ignominiously by falling off a bridge?
Sure, reviews and reactions to this new film sounded uniformly good. But I did hear that they took liberties with the original universe, and after the debacle (in my opinion) that was the Enterprise TV series, “liberties with the original universe” were words I wasn’t prepared to accept.
Then there’s my whole love/hate relationship with the big screen. Sure, I love the size and the sound. But I hate the way some people nowadays chatter through a film. So I tend to avoid the theater in general, going only for films that just wouldn’t be the same on my TV, and choosing times and locations when few people are likely to be there.
So here it is, the end of the Memorial Day weekend, my wife wants to see the film, and my brother says it’s great. So my wife and I head off for Beloit for an Arby’s roast beef before a 6:40 showing. We arrive at the theater plenty early, get some snacks, and pick optimum seats. A half dozen other people dribble in, and they’re all pretty old, so I’m feeling hopeful for a quiet show.
The film starts. It’s looking good. But the mother/daughter/grandmother trio in the row behind us won’t shut up. I let them go on for about five minutes, hoping they’ll wind down. They don’t, so in irritation I turn around and say, “Excuse me, but I didn’t pay $25 to listen to you chatter.” The whole theater can hear me. Silence descends.
After that, the film was awesome. Virtually perfect.
Being a guilt-motivated sort, however, when my wife says on the way home, “I think the mother was explaining who was who to the daughter,” I worry about having embarrassed the woman in front of her family. (Not as much as I worried about getting in a fist fight with the guy I told the same thing in front of his family during King Kong, but worry nonetheless.)
Still, true to my word, I call my brother the preacher as soon as we get home. He asks how I liked it. I tell him it was great, except I had to tell the people behind us to hush. My brother the preacher laughs and says, “Yeah. I had to do the same thing. I told somebody they had two choices: Shut up or pay me my ticket money back. The rest of the audience said, ‘Yeah, me too!'”
So go see Star Trek. And don’t be afraid to tell the people in the row behind you that you didn’t pay to listen to them talk. If they want to chatter through a film, they should do it in their own homes while watching on DVD, and leave the big screen and big sound for those of us who want to immerse ourselves in the experience.