Friday, July 3, 2009

The Trouble with Abrams' Trek

So, my fellow Trekkers, you've seen Star Trek three or four times and now when you think about the film, you feel empty. What is it about the movie that makes you feel like a tribble that has just ate the grain on space station K-7?

Canon Fodder

The filmmakers have consistently argued that their film follows the canon of forty years of Star Trek. (Star Trek Magazine, April 2009, pg. 46) Nonsense. When you have a plot that alters the timeline, that' not canon. By destroying Vulcan, and kill Spock's mother before her time, that's not canon. Vulcan is a founding member of the Federation. So under Director J.J. Abrams' timeline, we have to depend on the pig race Tellarites to help us fight off the Romulans and Klingons? God save us.

Under the Abrams' timeline, forty years of great science fiction could evaporate. What stops Abrams from wiping out the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Voyager? Nothing. Instead of being the captain of the Enterprise D, maybe Jean Luc Picard decides to stay a vintner. Yes, I know Captain Janeway changed the timeline in the Voyager series finale, "Endgame." But she didn't change the past but the future. Abrams' film changes the past and the future because the aforementioned TV series now may not exist, at least not in Abrams' timeline. It's like when Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I, when Moses comes out with fifteen Commandments instead of ten.

What about the humor in the movie? It's a funny film but were we laughing at the situation or Trek conventions? When Kirk is making love to the Orion girl were we laughing because in the light she's green and Kirk is the ladies' man or the situation? This movie at times borders on parody. Abrams says he got spoiled on Star Trek because of the movie Galaxy Quest, (1999) (Entertainment Weekly, 10-24-2008, pg. 28) It shows. The catchphrases were forced. Did you laugh at Scotty's line, "I'm giving her all she's got"? You didn't when you watched the series. The comedy in Star Trek has always arisen from the situation not from looking down on itself. By the way, Trekkers do have a sense of humor. We laughed when William Shatner told us to get a life, and enjoyed Galaxy Quest. And check out the Onion skit below.

Scotty's Technical Files

I appreciate the beauty of the film. The special effects were just great. But about that music. Composer Michael Giacchino is an excellent composer, his scores for "Up" and "Ratatouille" were warm and sophisticated. But his main theme here sounds like it is the music for Vulcan and not the franchise. It doesn't inspire the way, Jerry Goldsmith's magnificent score for "Star Trek the Motion Picture" and theme for "Voyager" does. Thankfully, at the end he decides to use Alexander Courage's theme for the series.

Oh, and watch the excessive use of the hand held camera. This a fictional film not a documentary. Hand held cameras induce nausea on the viewer.

Don't Use the Force

There's too much Star Wars influence on the filmmakers. (Entertainment Weekly, pg. 29) Star Trek is not Star Wars. Star Trek has stood for intelligent science fiction for forty years. Star Wars is science fantasy. While the film moves at warp speed, it lacks the sharp dialogue that Trek is known for.

Star Trek is about ideas. Political. Philosophical. Scientific. This movie is loud. Don't get me wrong, the action is good but some of the set pieces seem illogical. Chekov running to the transporter room before Kirk and Sulu fall to their death is ridiculous. By the time he gets there Kirk and Sulu should have been pancakes. While I don't agree with Roger Ebert's review as far as number rating (it should be a little higher), he makes great points about the film.

The Great Bird of the Galaxy

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie. I just want more intelligence in my science fiction. I hope there is an extended cut on DVD. I am optimistic. Abrams did dedicate the film to Gene Roddenberry and his wife, Majel. Let's hope that the next film not just entertains but inspires the way the series has always done.

Get a Life

Okay, check this faux news report from the Onion on serious Trekkers like me who have problems with the movie. See, we Trekkers have a sense of humor.

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