“Well that sucked” – Me after seeing Star Trek into Darkness
Allow me to crack my knuckles and go nerd wild for a moment.
So to begin I really enjoyed the 2009 Trek movie. It was action packed, it was thrilling, it set it on a new course (see what I did there). When you look at the state of the film series, yeah it needed something new. Star Trek The Motionless Picture pretty much sums up that first trip out the gate. Star Trek 2 The Wrath of Khan got it right. Having enough familiar things for the long term fans to enjoy but giving something new to anyone just entering this world. Star Trek 3 The Search for Spock picked up where 2 left off with the addition of looking for Spock. Then the real home run came with Star Trek 4 The Voyage Home. A film that was for everyone and the box office showed everyone loved it. Star Trek 5 came and went and the less we speak of this the better (Although Into Darkness makes me appreciate 5 a hell of a lot more) and then Star Trek 6 The Undiscovered Country was a fitting end to the original series cast. A film with intrigue, action: it was the swan song for the original series cast and a nice bridge to The Next Generation.
Then we come to the Next Generation films and really after viewing them there’s only one real good one and one decent while the rest are just bad. First Contact is the best of the 4 Next Gen flicks with the return of the Borg. Star Trek Generations had the two best Enterprise Captains meet and while the idea souinded good on paper it ultimatly didn’t have the wow factor that a meeting between the two captains should have had. SPOILER: And Kirks death was so comical Im suprised he didn’t hold a sign saying HELP ala Wild E Coyote. Insurrection would be a good two parter during the series run but it was just a small film on the big screen. And Nemesis tried to ape Star Trek 2 but failed with an unexplainable villain and a death that was cheap and pointless.
The death knell was ringing loudly for our beloved franchise. Even the TV shows were losing popularity. Next Gen, DS9 and Voyager all had successful runs with 7 seasons while Enterprise only eeked out 4. Perhaps Trek had run it’s course. The 5 year mission which had become a 40 year ride seemed to be ready to for dicomissioning . And for while it was gone. Like Kirk in the Tholian Web it disappeared but periodically there would be glimmers of a return in some fashion. There was talk of a movies with the the DS9 crew or even the Voyager crew but those stories were squashed. There was talk of perhaps a new series that would deal with covert missions and more cloak and dagger stuff. But once the fans caught wind they made their disappointment their usual calm and subtlety.
Then and idea sprang forth, one that actually had roots with Harve Bennet, the man who saved the films with the great Wrath of Khan. It was right after the release and the less than stellar performance of Star Trek 5 where he had envisioned either a TV series or a film about Kirk Spock and McCoy during their Academy years. It had some traction, Paramount was intrigued by this notion. They saw it as a way of keeping the franchise going for a longer period of time. But at the end of the day the studio was worried about alienating it’s fan base with what might be perceived as usurpers to the thrones. So they scraped that idea and waited.
Enter JJ Abrams.
A work horse writer who penned scripts like Regarding Henry and Gone Fishin’ (yep he wrote that) who struck golld with such shows as Felicity and Alias. It was LOST and Fringe that made nerd fan boys wipe themsleves in excitment . He then went on to direct Mission Impossible 3 and Super 8.
Now at this point I’m not sure who came to who first but JJ and Paramount had a meeting and from there the idea of rebooting the franchise was brought up. Now this can be a tricky thing as what this basically means is starting fresh, from scratch. Creating new stories with old characters that don’t feel old but at the same time keeping their familiarity so as to not lose old fans. Its a difficult tight rope to balance on. And I get why they went this route. The cast was getting old (some dead), there was no way in Stovakor they were going down the film path with DS9 or Voyager. So they decided on the Academy years, young kirk Spock and McCoy meeting and having a grand adventure. But once again the powers that be were worried about nerd backlash having these new younger actors take these icon roles. And there was strong resistance (I will not make a Borg joke). How dare they attempt something new and fresh (might I add people were upset that they were using a whole new crew back in 1987 and that turned out to be Next Gen and it became a big hit so stuff it nerds)
So instead of a straight reboot they decided to bridge the new with the old. This would be a separate time line as Leonard Nimoy would don the ears one more time so he could interact with his younger self. Again I completely understand where they are coming from. Nimoy is Trek and having him in your film gives it that stamp of approval. It would silent some, not all but it’s a good start. I for one don’t have a problem with reboots and remakes for the most part. I know they have a built in audience and its kind of sort of a safe bet . Besides I still have the originals, so as long as they don’t Lucasify them (verb: meaning to enhance, recreate, add too an existing property and then taking away the original so you are forced to only watch the shit revised version).
So Nimoy is in so what we get is Kirks father is killed before his born which changes the road he takes to command. Now we can argue all kinds of things here so I won’t belabor the point. The film is good for someones interpretation of Trek. This is not MY Trek. On it’s own its fun and rousing. It does take the status quo and completely skews it. And that’s great, I appreciate someone going into a play ground I’ve enjoyed an showing me a new way, notice I didn’t say better. Again I don’t want to be THAT nerd who complains about every little thing. BUUUUT I will say that I have some issues with the whole time line thing. Now one can argue that any change in the time line has ripple effects. What happens to one happens to all (I hate to use this as the example: A Sound of Thunder pretty clearly brought that up with the whole kill a butterfly in the past and humanity becomes non existent in the future.) But the whole history of Trek was so thrown for a loop that I’m surprised they didn’t show Chekov and Sulu playing together in kindergarten. Just from a logic stand point half the stuff makes no sense. The biggest being Kirk getting his own command at the end when he was just a cadet at the start. I mean i know people who have excelled at their job and moved up quickly but there is still tiers one has to climb to get to the top.That would be like the mail boy doing such a good job handing out letters that the owner of the company makes him a Vice President. And don’t get me started on the highly coincidental meeting of Kirk and Spock and Scotty all on the same planet within miles of each other. But again I understand why they went this route. These Trek films are primarily made with the casual fans or newbies in mind so by the end of the film Kirk is Captain, Spock is science/first officer and everyone else is in their proper and Logical places (again see what I did there) So while there are plot holes you can fly a Death Star through (Star Wars reference, thought I’d change it up) all in all not a bad film. Until…
If Star Trek 2009 simplified things, Star Trek into Darkness is the special needs kid who rides the short yellow bus with his mittens taped to his jacket (from this time forward Star Trek into Darkness will be referred to as Ugh That Sucked)
Both films were written by the team of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who also give us two Transformers films and Cowboy and Aliens so take that as you will. Roberto Orci once said
“We always try to approach these big action movies from a place of: Could you remove the robots and the spaceships and aliens and whatever it is and take that character story and make an independent film out of that little story?” Orci told The Los Angeles Times in 2009. “If you can and then you sprinkle back in the giant robots, you have something very unique.”
So basically without the robots, Transformers is about Shia LaBouf acting like a crazy person…wow talk about art imitating life.
I won’t go into too much detail about Ugh That Sucked, basically if you watched Trek2009, Star Trek 2 Wrath of Kahn, a bit of Star Trek 3 and the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark then you’ve essentially seen the film. It’s such a mishmash of stuff that makes no sense topped off by the most ridiculous call back to the Spock Death scene in Wrath of Khan. My best friend and I threw our hands in the air (because we didn’t care) in frustration, it was just awful.
So now we are here, in the present. While Ugh That Sucked made money, it made less money than than 2009. At the big Trek Convention in Las Vegas, they ranked all the Trek films (they even included Galaxy Quest which I thought was genius) Ugh that Sucked was ranked dead last. A non Trek film was more Trek than Ugh That Sucked and it was also beat by Trek 5 which, up until now, was considered the worst Trek film ever, not anymore. The fans were speaking loudly but Paramount either didn’t hear or didn’t care because Orci was still involved, but this time for the upcoming Trek 3 there was a lot of talk of him taking the directing chair now that JJ was off doing Star Wars. Orci has no directing experience, I have directed 2 short films and a few plays so I have more experience than this guy. But apparently there has been a bit of a shake up and Mr Oric is no longer involved (His script was tossed out a so Simon Pegg wo played Scotty is apparently co writing the film and Justin Lin, director of 4 Fast and Furious movies, will be taking the captains chair so expect a Vin Diesl cameo) This film is scheduled to be released in 2016. Now any Trek fan worth his Salt Creature knows that 2016 is the 50th Anniversary of our beloved Wagon Train to the Stars (For you non trekkers that is how the show creator pitched Trek to the studio) so the studio is going to push Sha Ka Ree and Earth to get this film in the theaters.
As a life long Trek fan I want to really enjoy anything they put out. Things can’t stay the same forever, actors get old, stories become repetitive; If we want our shows to go on fresh blood has to brought in. But with that comes things that we may not agree with but we have to be open to the change. I’m completely ok with new actors taking on these iconic roles. Pine, Quintos and Urban are fantastic as Kirk Spock and McCoy the look of the films, while feeling like you’re in an Apple Store, still feels fresh and new. They have yet to actually explore anything and that’s what I’m waiting for. I want them to go where no one has gone before and show us those strange new worlds one more time.
Until next time. Live long and prosper