Sunday, May 10, 2009
To boldly reboot where no one has rebooted before ...
OK, in case you've been encased in a block of carbomite* since 1966, here's a recap:
Star Trek (the Paramount sci-fi franchise) had effectively written itself in a corner. Nemesis was depressing. Enterprise was inspiring, but had never built a fan base. J.J. Abrams, of Lost fame, pulled a clever hattrick. He lost the whole series of series that had gone before. Abrams rebooted Star Trek, not in the sense of reimagining it, but in the sense of shit-canning its existing timeline.
All the storylines. All the plots ...
Star Trek (the Original Series)
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Voyager
Gone. Not to mention ...
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek: The Search for Spock
Star Trek: The Voyage Home
Star Trek: The Final Frontier
Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek: Generations
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: Insurrection
Star Trek: Nemesis
A ballsy move on Abrams' part.
Even the freaking original Star Trek pilot The Menagerie (starring Jeffrey "good-enough-to-play-Jesus-Christ-but-not-up-to-the-task-of-seducing-green-women" Hunter) as Captain Pike is gone, because it happened after the disruption to the timeline in this movie.
To be fair, Star Trek: Enterprise remains canon, because it happened before the disruption of the original Star Trek timeline. Everything else ...
It's as the Star Trek universe was an Etch-a-Sketch drawing.
And Abrams picked it up and shooked it to a randomized nothingness of pure potentiality.
OK, so, what's up with that?
Essentially, a pissed of Romulan travels back in time, kill Captain Kirk's father and blows up Vulcan. Kirk winds up on the Enterprise after cheating on his Kobayashi Maru finals. Captain Pike winds up in a wheelchair again -- but he's not horribly disfigured and promoted to Admiral, so it ain't all bad. Kirk, in the process, saves planet Earth. Yay. Oh, forgot to mention, through clever manuevering, Kirk winds up in the Captain's chair of the Enterprise a full 5 to 7 years before he does in the original series. Essentially, this punk kid from Iowa winds up as a Starship Captain at the age of freaking 24 after being booted out of the Star Fleet Academy.
Abrams has managed to do a few big things:
He's jettisoned all the existing storylines and made infinite storylines possible.
He's also shitcanned the later, darker and/or more politically correct Star Trek incarnations. He's gone back to a young Kirk and the original crew -- a cocky, womanizing, Testosterone-soaked Kirk who, literally, sleeps with a green woman as the movie opens. Along with Kirk, there's a conflicted Spock, a 17-year-old Checkov who pronounces his Vs as Ws, a cranky Dr. McCoy, an engaging Scotty, a fencing master Sulu, and a multilinguistic Uhuru with her drop-dead gorgeous legs in the miniskirt of the future.
The diehard Trekkies who never accepted Star Trek: the Next Generation and all the rest of it will eat it up.
The 20something target audience -- who have no stake or nostalgic buzz from the original material -- will also eat it up.
Storywise, Abrams proves himself brilliant. Hey, great storyteller. Lousy logic, lousy science. (A black hole isn't a dimensional gateway, it's a dimensional trash compactor. There ain't no such thing as red matter. If the Romulans attack Earth with a ginormous intergalactic can opener, the evil ship would be surrounded with earth vessels attacking it. Etc., etc.) But, screw science and logic. It's a ripping yarn, however preposterous.
*This is a double pun, not a mistake. In "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back," Han Solo was encased in a block of CARBONITE. In "The Carbomite Maneuver," James T. Kirk bluffed his way out of an alien standoff by saying all Federation ships came equipped with a self-destruct device triggered to explode a lump of CARBOMITE.