Saturday, June 16, 2012

The New Star Trek

Back in 2008, when I started the Starbase 66 podcast, my cohosts and I talked a lot about the impending JJ Abrams Star Trek movie. I had grave doubts about it, yet gradually I warmed to the idea. Finally, a year later, the movie premiered, and at first I loved it. I even saw it four times in the theaters, a feat I had not achieved since high school. It was even the first Blu-ray I purchased. But in the intervening three years the blush has come off the rose, so to speak. I can't say I hate the movie, just nearly everything about it. I loathe the 'new' ship. I despise the uniforms. The hardware is cheap looking and obviously designed to look good in a box on a Wal-Mart shelf, and the inner workings of the Enterprise look exactly like what they were, a fucking brewery! And don't get me started on the lens flare and overly contrived plot devices. In fact the only thing that keeps me enamored of this film, and despite my above kvetching I do still love this film, is the performances. The actors totally saved Star Trek from out-sucking The Final Frontier and The Motion Picture combined. Sometimes you get a film, such as The Avengers, that becomes greater than the sum of its parts...this was not the case with Abram's Star Trek. Abrams seems to be the anti-Lucas. Lucas can direct an action sequence like almost no one else, but his work with people leaves much to be desired. Abrams is the opposite. Everything about his movies...in my opinion...is trite, yet he directs his actors with a dexterity and respect that makes the performances shine. Yet the overall effect, as seen in the snooze-inducing Super 8, is just meh...with lens flare. But, Marius, why are you revisiting this now? Well, I'm glad you asked. Lately the news feeds have been full of speculation, teases, hints, and interviews about the sequel to Star Trek 2009 which finished principal photography a couple of months ago. Abrams will be directing it again, and the original creative staff is on board as well. This has been filling me more and more with a sense of dread that has been made even worse by the severely disappointing Prometheus, of which Damon Lindelof was the executive producer and co-writer. He's also the producer on the Trek sequel and was the executive producer of Lost and Cowboys and Aliens. With the exception of Lost, which didn't do anything for me, that is not a promising pedigree. The first Trek reboot was saved by the actors, and by my enthusiasm to see the characters and worlds that I love reborn on the big screen. Now that the novelty is gone, I have serious doubts about what is to come. I hated hating Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and over the years have found my way to appreciating the good parts of it, and Star Trek V is still a stinging, open wound, but at its worst the original Trek films and shows are the companions of my youth, and I can forgive them their occasional offenses. But this new Trek, and Abrams attempts to make it more like Star Wars, is getting very close to making me loathe the thought of any more Star Trek being made. If it's just going to be a pale shadow of what we grew to love over the past 46 years, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing, then I'd just as soon it rest in peace, and leave us to our memories.

1 comment:

RedCornwall said...

Have to disagree with you about ST:TMP. It is still the most cinematic of the franchise and I still remember the feeling I had of watching ST on the big screen, especially as I had waited a while for any new ST and was existing on constant re-runs.
I'm glad that people are finally beginning to see through what JJ did with ST2009. I make you right about the characters. He really did bring the majority of those old and loved characters to the screen, well cast and spot on in most cases and they personified those characters for the most part as I would wish to have them portrayed. I just had problems almost immediately with all those other aspects that you mentioned and more which made the film only a 6/10. In many ways I consider it nothing more than a watchable summer blockbuster.

Where I again disagree with you is that I actually have grown more excited by the possibilities of the new universe which allows them to revisit many loved episodes and characters in a new way. I still would prefer a continuation of canon Trek made by at least some of the people that have respect for it's rules and traditions. But the reality is that that version of Trek is for the moment dead and all we have left is JJ.