Star Trek: It’s Made of People

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Lately I’ve been watching a feature-length fan-made Star Trek parody called Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning. There are dark abysms of Trek fandom that kinda scare me, but you know what? This is really very, very watchable. It was done by a small (but apparently very scrappy) group of Finnish guys, amateurs, who spent 7 years on the project. (My colleague Dietmar, who’s one of Time’s photo editors, tipped me off to this.)

The movie starts with our hero, the cynical, bumptious Captain Pirk, hurled back in time and stuck on earth. (His name sounds like a cross between Kirk and Stanislaw Lem’s Pirx the Pilot?) Pirk eventually gets bored, says to hell with the integrity of the timeline, throws in with some callow post-Soviet Russians, builds a starship and conquers Earth. That’s all in about the first 15 minutes.

It’s a no-budget affair, and that shows in all the ways that you’d think it would. But it’s pretty damn funny, and the effects, especially the starship exteriors, look fantastic. Samuli Torssonen, whose brainchild this is, plays Pirk with just the right mix of fecklessness and wide-eyed Finnish innocence (Finnocence?) — he’s really an appealing leading man. And even the people who obviously can’t act have a good attitude about it, like you’re happy to be hanging out with them even as they’re puncturing the fourth wall. It’s mostly tongue-in-cheek, but to see an armada of Enterprise-esque ships churning through space, in a non-eye-wateringly bad movie, revived some of my poisoned, embittered, hopelessy ironized love of the Trek franchise.

And you gotta love a bunch of Finns with a sheet of linoleum for a bluescreen and a heart-tuggingly sad render farm in their kitchen actually pulling off a watchable space epic, and reclaiming for the fans a franchise that has been sadly misused by those who profit off it. You — you — really are person of the year. You may snicker, but in your heart you know it to be true.

Meanwhile the Spitzer telescope has been spying on some extra-solar planets, and they’re just a bunch of useless hot Jupiters.