Film/TV

Star Trek III – Beyond Abrams’ Notice


Sabotage is a great lead-in song for any film.

Any film but Star Trek … and certainly not twice.

Am I showing my age here? I’d like to think that I have an open mind about re-interpreting Trek for a new generation, but not at the expense of its core values. To me, Captain Kirk isn’t a rogue or a rebel – a guy who capriciously breaks rules for the sake of defying authority; he’s a guy who uses professional and experienced judgement based on a lifetime of service in Star Fleet. His dad was in Star Fleet and he grew up with those values. Duty, idealism, hope for the future.

Not in J.J. Abrams’ version of Trek.

You see, when George Kirk was killed by Abrams’ decision to mess with the time continuum, that’s what James T. Kirk lost, and to me, that speaks volumes about the where the core values of Star Trek went.

But I digress. This is about the trailer for the new film that was inadvertently leaked five days earlier than the projected release for viewing with millions of Star Wars films. Bad stroke of luck there.

It’s fast, it’s furious but it’s not Trek. I want to see hints of daring, not the Point Break style of overly-sensational stunts. I want to see a thoughtful and cunning Kirk, not a punch-drunk and black-eyed brawler who’s dropping witty palaver like a quarterback trying to impress the rest of the team.

Justin Lin is the guy who took over for the Star Wars director. It’s like Abrams got a new toy and left the old one in the rain for Lin to play with. The trailer has all the hallmarks of a Fast & Furious franchise film that Lin is famous for. You have vehicle acrobatics, lots of flashy violence and of course, there’s a monumental crash and yes, the Enterprise just HAS to be shown, downed on the ground, in flames and pieces. This is a ship that escaped a black hole in the first incarnation of the reboot – why is it that we have to see it spread all over a forest for it to be important?

I think the problem is that J.J. Abrams is not a Star Trek fan. His heart isn’t in this and he’s on the record for stating that he found Star Trek “too philosophical”.

An imagined future where money holds no value, people are free to pursue their dreams and humanity has managed to find its place in the stars as a galactic power. That philosophy? Yeah, it’s called hope and that’s what’s endeared Star Trek to its fans. You take that out and what you have is an action flick with very little to cerebrally occupy science fiction fans.

Look, I’m not trying to be the nostalgic curmudgeon pining for the days of Shatner and Nimoy – those days are gone and there are new versions of Trek popping up all over the internet. I know; I’ve spoken with their creators. Heck, CBS has even announced a new pay-for-view generation of a Trek show next year. Change is inevitable and even logical. I’m okay with that.

But this is a plasticized and processed version of Star Trek. It’s soul-less and its heart has been replaced by cheap banter. Explosions, motor-cycles, people falling from extreme heights and a destroyed Enterprise – again? There’s no subtlety to this trailer – it’s all laid out for the viewer with nothing left to the imagination. In short, there’s no wonder.

Even George Takei wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it. He’s said that he thought it would be a great action-adventure Trek film, but it lacked the social commentary that was present in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Yeah, in a sense you could say it was missing its conscience. One among many values of Star Trek that are absent from this trailer.

Maybe they’ve been sabotaged?

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