(It’s the final countdown! Well, the rest of the week was the final countdown. It’s counted down now. The new film is upon us. There are lines outside of the theater, my cereal box has a cutout Star Trek poster on it (yes, I am cutting it out), I cannot go thirty seconds without seeing a commercial for the film, and I’ve been whistling the theme to The Next Generation all day. It’s make or break time. Let’s talk about the final piece of this week-long puzzle…)
It’s a big deal, this new Star Trek film, and one doesn’t have to be any sort of Trekkie to realize that. It’s a big deal that we’re starting over from scratch, replacing all the classic characters with new actors, changing how the Enterprise NCC-1701 looks, and rebuilding it all from the ground up, with a director who is a bit of a celebrity-director right now. It’s being treated as a big summer movie meant for everyone rather than just Star Trek fans.
It’s a big deal.
Some people are being put off by the trailers and bits of information that have leaked. Some people are unsure of these new actors, stepping into the shoes of familiar characters. Are unsure of the inside of the Enterprise (someone described it, memorably, as the USS Apple Store, and I chuckle and see why). Some people worry that it’s going to be “Mission Impossible in Space.”
Truthfully, the only concern I share is that last one. I do worry, from the trailers I’ve seen, that this one will be non-stop action from beginning to end. And the reason I worry about that is, if you don’t have the character moments, the human moments, then it loses any semblance of a Star Trek film.
I am all in favor of a functioning reboot of the franchise, if that’s what it needs. And it does need it. The basic formula hasn’t changed since The Next Generation, but the world around us has, and there’s no reason for Star Trek not to advance.
However, at the same time, it does have to keep hold of those human elements I mentioned. Otherwise, it’s a whole different creature running around with the same name.
What do I want to see this film do?
Succeed, mostly. And not be insular. I very much want people to say “I’m not a Trekkie or anything, but it looks good, so I want to go see it,” in much the same way that Christopher Nolan took Batman far beyond the realms of comic book geekery. I want a widespread popular audience, because if Star Trek appeals only to a closed-off crowd of fans, that’s no good for anyone. It should be a big deal, all across the board.
I want this film to do well enough that we get sequels. But also, I really want this film to do well enough that maybe someone says “let’s do another Star Trek TV series.” Because I really miss that. And furthermore, I want this film to do so astonishingly well that the theaters begin to fill up again with all sorts of Trek-rip-off films set on spaceships. Because I miss those too. They went away when Star Trek stopped being pertinent, stopped being a big enough deal that they could slip in around the edges. I love a whole range of science fiction, but I adore space operas and things set on starships in deep space, and I want more of that, damn it.
Mostly, I just hope that this film matters to people.
What are the odds of all this happening?
Well, I don’t know. It’s a horse race, really. I will point out a couple of things to bear in mind, though.
First of all: trailers are terribly deceptive things. They are taking a film and molding it down into a couple of minutes of sound bites, to appeal to the maximum possible audience. They don’t always have a lot of relation to the film.
An example of this is well outside of science fiction. To watch the trailer for Be Kind, Rewind leaves you thinking that this is going to be a goofy Jack Black film in which he spoofs other movies in a dumb, low-budget way. But watching the film, one is surprised to find that actually, it’s a quiet and touching story about a poor black neighborhood, and how it comes together. Jack Black is almost irrelevant to the story. So do you see what I mean? These trailers might be action-packed and yet actually show all the action sequences from the new film. It could wind up being a character study.
Second of all: A lot of my doubts went away when I went to the web-site and watched a handful of scenes that they have put online. There’s a scene in which Karl Urban, as Doctor Leonard McCoy, rants at Kirk about the dangers of outer space. And the most amazing thing was…he was an absolute spot-on Leonard McCoy. From the slight tremble in his voice, to the arched eyebrow, to the ranting. He was very, very good. Another scene shows us a very interesting Mister Spock, and a very enjoyable Scotty (played by Simon Pegg, who is always a delight). The only one I’m left unsure of is Chris Pine as James Kirk. But the fact that the other characters are being handled so well leaves me with a lot of faith.
And beyond that…all we can do is go see it. All other talk is just speculating and ruminating. We may as well wait to see the film and then form opinions.
And thus, there’s nothing left for me to say except thank you, for following me as I wandered through not only all of the pieces of Star Trek, but my own memories. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you go see the new film with as open a mind as possible. Look for the good bits, rather than dreading and expecting the bad bits. Encourage all your friends to go see it. Let’s try to make it a big enough splash that it gets us a new series, some new films, and all of that.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stand in line. Now that I’ve finished cutting out this poster from the back of the cereal box.