No, the Star Trek movie doesn’t take place on a tropical island. There are no polar bears, monsters made of smoke, frozen donkey wheels, or four-toed statues. But there are elements of the new movie from J.J. Abrams that have a strong LOST-ian flavor.
Trekking Through Time
There is time travel in Star Trek — and there is talk of destiny! There is even talk about how going back in time can change one’s destiny!
There is a major character (who I won’t name so as not to add even more spoilers to this post) who appears in both his young and old versions in the same time period. He even meets up with himself eventually — at which time he talks about how disruptions in the time/space continuum can be hard to process.
What could be more LOST-like than that?
Either J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof, who also worked on the movie, love the ideas of destiny and time travel so much that they feel compelled to use them over and over, or they ran out of ideas and had to recycle old ones — or this grafting of LOST plots onto Star Trek was a nod to us LOST fans.
Not Quite Flashbacks
Backstories are important in Star Trek. They aren’t quite LOST-style flashbacks — they are much shorter and, of course, are not signalled with a whoosh. But they serve much of the same function of showing how the past motivates the actions of the present.
The backstories are done very deftly. We are shown what drives Kirk and Spock with just two quick scenes each, one from their early childhoods and one from the moments they made the decisions that set them on their adult paths. We see the key aspects of their characters, which we later see come to fruition when they are adults. It’s economical story telling, and very well done.
The characters in the movie, especially Spock, were more moving than I remember the characters ever being in the original TV series. Having interesting characters the audience cares about is a LOST trademark, and a welcome addition to Star Trek.
Don’t panic, Kate haters! There was only the tiniest whiff of a love triangle in the movie. What would have been 30 hours of angsty dialogue on LOST was just a glance and a raised eyebrow in Star Trek
What would a LOST-influenced movie be without Daddy issues? In Star Trek, though, the Daddies were mostly benevolent and inspirational influences on their sons. There was some friction, but nothing like that on LOST, where the Daddy issues could make even Oedipus blush.
Lights, Camera … Action!
There were lots of sequences of fighting in Star Trek, more than I might normally like — but they were so goofy and over-the-top that they were harmless. I counted at least three times that Kirk was in a cliffhanger scene. I mean literal cliffhangers, where he was hanging by his fingers off the edge of one thing or another, with a huge, in one case infinite, drop below.
Reaction of a non-Trekkie
Although I’m a LOST nerd, I’m not much of a Trekkie, at least not as far as anything that came after the original series. That one I liked. I must have seen most or all of the episodes of the original series, some of them more than once. After that my interest in Star Trek fizzled out. I never saw more than a few episodes of any of the spin-offs. I saw a couple of the movies, but they bored me. As far as I was concerned, Star Trek had ended 40 years ago.
Even so, I heard so many good things about the new movie, that I decided to see it — though not without some trepidation. The characters of the original series were icons of my childhood. I was afraid it would be jarring to see these familiar characters played by strange actors.
I needn’t have worried. They did a great job. Spock looked uncannily like the original. As for the others, while they looked different, they either captured the essence of the old characters, or they were so compelling in their own right that it didn’t matter.
Two hours versus 103 hours. Okay, there’s no comparison to be made on this one.
The movie does live up to its hype. I think most LOST fans, whether Trekkies or not, will enjoy it.