Saturday, December 8, 2012

We Had to Destroy Star Trek in Order to Save It

When I left the theater at the end of the first installment of the Abramsprise franchise, I had already decided the following:

  • That was a technically proficient action movie with almost no real characterization or heart, barely any actual sci-fi except for being "in space," and no meaning at all. Every other Star Trek film, and the vast majority of the episodes, had some kind of meaning.

  • The conceit allowing Abrams to rewrite continuity is a clever one, reminiscent of a better-than-average fanfic—but the profit imperative will mean that subsequent films will use that conceit as carte blanche to go in thematic and stylistic directions Roddenberry would have gone postal over.

  • The Trek franchise will from now on resemble the Transformers movies more than anything else.

    Judging from the Twitter response to the new teaser for Star Trek Into Emptiness, I'd say my conclusions were right on. Not that it stopped the first one from being a colossal hit, or the second one from being made.

    Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying awesome action and ships crashing into stuff have no place in Star Trek; some of the best DS9 episodes are full of that kind of asskickery. I will admit to being impressed, visually and tonally, by the new teaser. And with mere seconds of screen time so far, Khanberbatch is already far more interesting than (*chortle*) Nero.

    But I can't conceive any conditions that would motivate me to pay theater prices to see this. I might not even be able to bring myself to Netflix-Instant it, depending on what reviewers I trust have to say.

    I guess I'm a dinosaur, but not every genre property needs to be completely drained of its original raison d'etre. We could leave some stuff alone, couldn't we? An Abrams sci-fi franchise based on, oh, I don't know, original settings and characters could have been just fine, couldn't it? What's next, Disney turning Star Wars into a tender rom-com involving a precocious puppy?

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