You know how five-year-olds will get one movie stuck in their heads and watch it fifteen times a day, usually driving their parents crazy? You know how they never get tired of the movie and always watch it as if it’s the first time? How they can’t stop laughing and screaming and always seem surprised by the hackneyed plot? Well, that’s how I am with Star Trek, and I need help. The movie has almost unlimited “rewatch value,” and that can be a dangerous thing.
Then I did a marathon of the movies, both original and next generation. I enjoyed the hell out of them all and started picking favorites. At this point, I was still a casual fan trying to get caught up before the release of the new “Star-Wars-esque” reimagining.
Then I went and saw Abrams film, and, well, I had more fun than I had had in a theater in a long time. It wasn’t just that the story was put together in a really fun, flippant and creative way. It wasn’t just that the filmmakers had somehow tracked down a group of young actors who perfectly fit their iconic roles without falling into bad impressions.
What really wowed me about the movie was the fact that the screenwriters had managed to do something that hadn’t been done before; they rebooted a franchise completely without negating any canon that had come before. It was a prequel, a sequel, and a reboot all in one, and yet it never let itself get dragged down by needless exposition or overly self-satisfied in-jokes.
I enjoyed the movie and saw it twice in theaters. No big deal. But then the movie came out on video. I bought the Blu-Ray…and now I’m in trouble.
Each viewing revealed something fun and new, and every time I’d jump on the internet to research some Trek reference I found a new layer of meaning in the film. Not just that, but the jokes and the action set pieces got funnier and more enjoyable the more I watched. It became the kind of movie you could pick up at any point and watch for any period of time and still enjoy the shit out if.
This quality is something that most critics seem to ignore. They cycle through films so quickly that they barely give themselves enough time to digest the basics of the movie before vomiting their opinion onto the printed page or, God help us all, the internet. I’m just as guilty as the next person, I know…
Most of the time this kind of criticism is adequate. You discover a movie’s story, characters and plot, and you’re done. The movie can be filed away in your memory with some arbitrary scoring system attached.
Every once in a while, though, there is a movie that is so fun or so interesting or so damn good that no matter how many times you watch it…no matter how familiar you are with each frame…the film never gets old. We film geeks call it “rewatch value,” and in this day and age of home video and digital downloads, it’s the holy grail.
Movies focus on garnering awards or blowing away opening day records. This is how filmmakers get paid. But rewatch value? That’s how they get remembered. It’s a quality that is intrinsically linked to the entertainment value and the overall quality of a film, but it stands apart. Movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future Part II (that’s right…part 2), and The Shawshank Redemption…these are what I call “go-to” movies. They’re films with such infinite rewatch value that you can always pop them into the DVD player (for either twenty minutes or two hours) and be entertained. Whatever mood you’re in, they’ll suck you into their all-to-familiar story and PUT you in the right mood to watch the film.
Whenever I look back on the year or the decade or the history of cinema to compile some sort of arbitrary top-ten list, rewatch value is the first thing I think of. Of course, I’m not arguing that J.J.’s film is one of the best ever made…but it is one of the most fun. And it’s one of the movies I’ll probably keep going back to so I can have that child-like movie experience.
I might drive my friends and family crazy (are you watching that AGAIN?!?), but so be it. It’s fairly rare that one of these films comes along, and when it does you have to jump on it, add it to your library, and watch the shit out of the thing until you finally lose interest temporarily.
Then it will sit silently on the shelf waiting patiently to be rediscovered. And a day will come along when you have that second epiphany. ”Oh, I haven’t watched this in a while.” If it holds up a few years later, then it’s most likely a classic.
Will Star Trek make the cut? I have no idea, but it’s definitely been worth the $25 I paid for the Blu-Ray.