I have “opinions” about Star Trek. Opinions strong enough to be facts in my mind. Opinions such as, but not limited to:
- Arguments about the “Best Captain” are as pointless as arguments about the “Best Alcoholic Drink”.
- Being proud about knowing the technical details of pretend spaceships is like being proud of a fungal infection.
- About 60% of Star Trek is abject dreck.
- About 5% of Star Trek is some of the best Sci-Fi you’ll ever experience.
- Riker’s Beard is a more compelling character than most of the cast of ‘Enterprise’.
- Unless you’re talking about The Original Series, the first two seasons of any Star Trek show are crap.
- ‘Wrath of Khan’. Just, ‘Wrath of Khan’.
You might disagree, and that’s fine, other people’s opinions mean very little to me.
I also have “opinions” about the latest film to be released, ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’. When I first saw it at the cinema, I loved it. It was exciting. It was dramatic. Great opening scene. Brilliant cast. Fantastic directing. Delightful music.
It was so good that I went back to watch it a second time, and the cracks began to show.
I bought the DVD and by the time the credits were rolling, so were my eyes.
‘Into Darkness’ is bad. Like, really very bad. All of its components are superb, except one: The Story.
People who say that the reboot films “aren’t like Star Trek” have probably never seen an episode of the Original Series. For those of you haven’t, the Original Series is that one with Kirk in it, where he laments having a woman as his yeoman and where most of his clashes with aliens are resolved with punching and karate-chops.
‘Star Trek’ (2009) succeeded as a movie because it was fun, it was exciting, it had a simple story that didn’t warrant too much scrutiny and it was fresh. I hated its interpretation of the Kobayashi Maru test, but that’s mostly because I bum ‘Wrath of Khan’ so much that hearing the first five bars of its soundtrack gives me an erection.
‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ failed as a movie because, and I’ll keep this concise because I still haven’t talked about the trailer for the new film yet, but ‘Into Darkness’ failed because most of its plot is told in exposition, and that plot makes as much sense as a vomit-flavoured chocolate suppository.
Here’s a list of things you need for a Star Trek production to be ‘Star Trek’:
- Aliens (who might be people).
- At least one spaceship.
That’s it. That’s all that the collective Star Trek franchise had consistently through its entire run prior to J. J. Abrams taking the helm. Seriously, go back and check. That’s what has always constituted something being “Star Trek”.
Now, here’s a list of things you need for a Star Trek production to be ‘Crap’:
- Stupid stories that make no sense.
I mean, other things might make a crap Trek, but mostly if you get a good story going, you won’t go far wrong. And that’s why I’m still hopeful for ‘Star Trek: Beyond’.
‘Star Trek: Beyond’ has done something revolutionary, which even Ridley Scott couldn’t conceive of: it has told Damon Lindelof to fuck off.
Damon Lindelof is the “mind” (that word used with artistic license) behind such incredibly bewilderingly baffling stories as ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ and the ‘Lost’ television series. He is the hackiest of hacks, the dickiest of heads, a fraud, a villain and a charlatan.
And he’s now gone. In his place is British hero Simon Pegg.
Mr. Pegg has written some of the cleverest movie scripts in the last ten years. He’s got huge “nerd” credentials, he cares about the material, and he’s proven himself capable of writing stories that are both entertaining and comprehensible.
The first trailer of ‘Star Trek: Beyond’ is little more than a series of bright and colourful images, with a couple of good lines of dialogue thrown in. It shows McCoy being McCoy, it shows some fun action, humour, and what looks like the bridge of an old starship with some startlingly, reassuringly familiar design touches.
But it doesn’t hint at any pointless references to the rest of the franchise; we’re not getting “Benedict Khanabatch” with this one. Neither has it flashed us with gratuitous shots of Women In Underwear, a level of titillation truly mundane since the invention of both the Internet, and clothes shops.
It hasn’t simply shown us a string of scenes of people screaming emotionally, and it hasn’t particularly made any huge promises about sprawling, in-depth storylines. Indeed, the story as best as I can make out is: “Crew must survive without their ship”, and that seems like it could be really cool.
All this film now has to do to avoid annoying me to the point that I’m spitting spinal fluid is to Keep Things Simple. ‘Into Darkness’ attempted a complex espionage plot and failed appallingly due to a lack of any espionage and an absence of higher brain functions in its lead writer. ‘Beyond’ just has to stick to formula, give us the characters we love doing exciting things and I’m sold.
Yes, there’s a motorbike and yes, it looks almost identical to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ but, let’s be honest, what did you think was going to happen? Picard set the precedent for off-road vehicles in Star Trek in the abominable ‘Nemesis’, and ‘Guardians’ was popular enough that of course new sci-fi trailers will be shaped to draw in a lot of Marvel’s audience.
For now, I am going to maintain hopeless optimism that Star Trek is still capable of producing quality content.