When I found out that there was an actual Star Trek movie, I found out in a movie book that I read in 1983. It amazed me that there was an original Star Trek movie. The networking was so bad in 1979 that I only found out about Star Trek three years later. By then, I hadn’t seen it. I only got to read the movie classifieds in the newspapers on the odd occasion. I have wondered what Star Trek: The Motion Picture would look like on the big screen if they had informed me earlier. Other people saw the movie then but being current eluded us for some reason. Star Trek just wasn’t on my radar. But they said it wasn’t that good, so I hadn’t missed much. About twenty-five years later, when I watched it for the first time, after work one day, I was looking for the flaws in it, because I was informed it was bad. Then I watched it again, forty years after its release, and found it a rather pleasant experience, no foul language and quite an amenable feel to it. I didn’t think it was that bad, as they told us. It might have been even interesting.
I’ve written a number of articles about film, Christians and film, and spirituality and film, but none of them come within a shot’s eye of writing film reviews, which, by far, outstrips anything else I’ve done on the subject of film. There came a time when I realized that I preferred reviewing films over writing articles about film. In fact, I don’t look too fondly at my articles about film, these days. I don’t feel much of an affinity for them. There were articles giving a variety of Christian perspectives, from the take caution type, to an egalitarian view, to seeking the spiritual common ground, but none come as close as enjoying writing a film review. Yet a writer must go through it. I mean, some writers may go through this kind of thing. Sometimes, one writes, and once all the work is done, one realizes what’s more enjoyable, as in one kind of writing or another, or one kind of writing sounds truer to the writer.
How many questions should a writer ask in writing a review? Let me start with one or two questions. I received in the post, that most neglected form of delivery these days, a postcard addressed to me advertising a movie coming up. I knew of the people who sent it and thought warmly about them. So warmly in fact that I imagined them asking me to review the movie, since they might have known that I am a reviewer. I wanted to know what the movie would be about. That’s my first question. Normally, the second question would be is it any good? And the third, what’s in it, the content in other words. For any review, a review need to only ask three questions — what is it about, what’s in it, and is it any good, and the audience will dictate where the stress is put. Does the audience want the content question over the critique question, for example. To end this kind of review, a brief, honest comment about the quality of the film that’s appropriate to the audience is enough.