Sci-Fi Junkies: Put Your Past Loyalties Aside and Take a Fresh Perspective

Shapan: Getting excited about a movie is fun. A lot of people hate being late for movies not because they missed that critical first five minutes of the movie, but because they missed the trailers. Trailers are like Christmas gifts you can tuck under a tree. You might have an idea of what it is, but you’ll never know for sure. Isn’t that exciting? And isn’t that excitement refreshing?

Well, usually. There are exceptions— in a galaxy far, far away.

Franchises like “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” have a new breed of fandom. Being a Trekkie or a Jedi is all good fun, but there’s enough pretense as it is going into a movie without adding a whole new dimension to it. The new “Star Trek” movie, despite absolutely glowing reviews from most critics, will likely get some frowns from its fans simply because it wasn’t like one of its nostalgic predecessors that came out decades ago.

Why can I say that so confidently? Well, one, because I often do the same thing myself whether it’s in music or in film, and two, because this stuff especially happens with fans of a long storied franchise. All you need to do is walk around the line for the next “Star Trek” movie premiere to hear people talking about how it couldn’t possibly measure up to the last one.

Kind of sucks, doesn’t it? The comparisons are a natural thing. They can be borderline obsessive when hype lasts so long for another movie in a sporadic chain, and that’s not so bad. But these conversations? Listen to how people talk in line when they’re waiting for a “Star Trek” movie. They speak differently.

No, this isn’t talking about how Wolverine kicked some dude’s ass in the last “X-Men” movie. No, it’s not about one of the countless ways Michael Myers killed that dude in the last “Halloween” movie. These anecdotes aren’t accessible little tidbits, but morsels that are part of an epic saga. Believe me, it’s really, really, epic.

However, with all this snobbery there is a nice deal of fulfillment. The conversations between two legit Trekkies are probably more stimulating to them than any of the conversations I’ve had with anyone about movies. So, for people who haven’t seen these movies, is it worth it getting into the club?

Well, if you want that engaging conversation with someone you feel finally has the same understanding that you’ll eventually have, go ahead. But after all this fandom, some fans must miss watching these movies at face value rather than have them haunted by old ghosts. There’s a certain beauty in watching a flick without having a constant expectation for it, and then having honest conversation about it afterward.

Unless you haven’t watched the “Godfather” trilogy, then I want nothing to do with you.

Pat: “X-Men” really showed fans that their favorite franchise could be translated to the big screen without the yellow spandex and still be faithful to the source material.

Before seeing the film, fans were already haranguing about the black leather, but when it finally graced screens in July 2000, “X-Men” started a revolution in action and comic book movies.

It’s a matter of knowing your audience and being able to tell a story. David Hayter penned the screenplay. Not only was he an experienced scriptwriter, but he was a long-time “X-Men” fan as well.

It is, therefore, never really about staying true to the source material by the letter so much as it is about telling a good story around the original tale.

Christopher Nolan proved that again last year with “The Dark Knight.” The story doesn’t follow Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns” or any other Batman story to a tee. Instead, it is a thoughtful allegory and a brilliant action drama in and of itself.

On the other hand, comic book movie failures like “Daredevil” become a victim of its own absurdity. Ben Affleck’s ridiculous red costume, though true to the comic books, turned off a lot of viewers.

The most successful comic to movie franchises have been handled by experienced film vets who are also fans: Hayter’s “X-Men” and “X2” scripts, Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” series and Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man” all took the right cues from the books and enough license to make a widely-appealing movie.

As Trekkies discovered last weekend, it really doesn’t pay to inject high expectations into your favorite franchise, hoping that it will continue to thrill you in the exact same way it did 20 years ago. The best franchise films and tales re-imagine their source material for a new audience, as any connoisseur of stories knows.

Next up this summer are the “Transformers” fans, some surely to be disappointed that Bumblebee still doesn’t transform into a VW Beetle like the old cartoon. Do yourselves a favor: check your fandom at the door and enjoy the movie.