07 May 2009

Coming Up- Friday, May 8th

Another week, another summer blockbuster. Star Trek is the movie to see this week, regardless of how tired the series may be. Next Day Air has The Wire connection that Obsessed did, but this week there is real competition.

J.J. Abrams made his fortune with Lost, now it's time to see if his magic can work on the big screen, and with an established franchise. To be honest, I'm worried. Wolverine's awfulness this weekend has reminded me just how easily a movie can go wrong when it tries to insert a new story into the continuity of an existing universe. Besides the fact that Star Trek has been done again and again and again, there's the additional danger of using CGI as a crutch. We've come a long way from the cheap plastic models of the original series, but replacing those models can't replace storytelling... there needs to be a compelling, plausible plot to back up whatever the effects department dreams up.

Further, that story must somehow fit into the existing mythology. For example, we know that Kirk cheats on the Kobayashi Maru test, the test that is supposed to be unwinnable. Star Fleet uses the test to see what candidates will do under extreme pressure, but Kirk thinks there is no such thing as a situation that is unwinnable. Part of the mystique of James T. Kirk is that he defeated this test... but that mystique was aided by the fact that we didn't know how he did it. Will J.J. Abrams's vision live up to what we have imagined? And finally, there's the time travel bit. From what I've been able to glean from articles and trailers, Kirk saves the universe in this film. Now, is that really necessary? Why couldn't the film just be about one man's struggle through the training process of Star Fleet, with a wink and a nod toward the audience who knows that he will become one of the most celebrated officers in the fleet? Instead of showing a simple story in extraordinary surroundings, they've decided to make an extraordinary story in extraordinary surroundings. It's possible, but not plausible.

Add all of this up, and it comes down to this: I'm worried.


Okay, I have to weigh in on this one,,,,, but from a completely different point of view. I know very little about Star Trek, other than having seen The Voyage Home and The Final Frontier when I was younger. I guess my principle way of assessing why I want to see this film is that as someone who doesn't know very much about the multiple series', the prequel is the best way to introduce the characters. It is also a genius way to incorporate new life and some hip-ness into a franchise that seemed to be losing steam. Also, the advertising Paramount has commissioned looks really good.

I agree in principle with the themes that Mr. Lucas addressed. Storytelling is often cut at the expense of thrills and explosions during the summer blockbuster season. However, from the opinion of the outsider, this series has never been based on special effects, but rather by grinding out a story (one of the main reasons that I never watched it, though I was intrigued by the philosophical/sociological themes is that I thought it was exceedingly dull) that is based on some great characters. I don't expect that to change.


  1. I didn't get into Star Trek either, but the guy in the blue shirt in the above photo looks like Joey from Friends, and is that the guy from Harold and Kumar go to White Castle?

    Casting FTW.

  2. It is,, I don't know if you noticed this, but he was also one of Lex Luthor's henchmen in Superman Returns.