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Saturday, April 17, 2010

J. J. Abrams' Star Trek: An Addendum (to my review)

Some time ago I posted a scathing review of the new Star Trek movie. That post has since become one of biggest traffic and comment drivers on this blog. Thinking back, I do have some additional thoughts on the movie, and one thought in particular that I think may explain more about why I really dislike the newest film.

I am fully aware that time travel has been a staple within the Star Trek universe, what with the fifth movie having a plot centered entirely around that subject (the one with the whales is the fifth, right?). But what concerns me most about the newest Star Trek movie is that its use of time travel is essentially a non-starter. What do I mean by that? The problem with the newest movie is precisely that its time travel narrative essentially makes the entire movie pointless. If it is that easy to manipulate the course of time, then what is the point of telling a story in this universe? Some new writer could come along and rewrite the entire universe again just so we have something "fresh" and "new" to work with. And in another ten, the same thing (or maybe forty would be the more appropriate number, since that's sort of how long it took to get this reboot).

What about the characters? They become meaningless too, because nothing they do actually matters. It can simply be rewritten. Some characters might not exist at all and some will be replaced. This is the problem with time travel narratives as a whole. Back to the Future only works because it makes fun of itself; the series is centered around a purely comical farce and doesn't take itself too seriously because of that. But Star Trek is not a comedy, nor based in a universe centered on a farce (at least, it's not supposed to be). Star Trek takes itself fairly serious, because it should be a serious endeavor; the shows and movies try to address a possible future, not a farcical one (can you really take seriously a time machine built into a DeLorean or, dare I say, a hot tub?).

This fact is what bothers me the most about the newest Star Trek. It is too easy and simple to rewrite the course of history, to rewrite characters and plots and entire populations of people (you can now destroy planets, never mind that the very concept of one ship taking out an entire advanced civilization is so mind-bogglingly idiotic it hurts to think about). If Abrams wanted to rewrite Star Trek, he should have ignored time altogether. Just rewrite it. Take the old, update it, make it flashier, stronger, more character driven, and so on. Don't establish a precedent for the pointless.

Or, perhaps the better idea would be to ignore the standard cast of characters and start something completely new. It's yet to be done. Nobody has started a Star Trek movie with an unknown group of characters (or at least a group that hasn't been talked much about within the various series) and spawned a series of films about them. What a better way to reboot a franchise than to start clean!

But maybe that's why I don't make movies. Originality and logic seem to have fallen to the wayside in Hollywood.

Thoughts? Opinions?

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  1. Anonymous4:06 PM

    you can now destroy planets, never mind that the very concept of one ship taking out an entire advanced civilization is so mind-bogglingly idiotic it hurts to think about

    Read: Death Star

    Also Read: You're an idiot.

  2. Death Star = not a ship. It's a space station. It moves slowly, it's the size of a small moon, and it is host to other ships, all of which do not have the firepower to take out an advanced civilization on their own.

    If you wanted to go Star Wars on me, you should have brought up the Suncrusher, which I would have said was a stupid idea anyway.

    So, try again :P

  3. Anonymous3:57 PM

    I understand what you are saying. But I think you’re thinking too much about it (ridiculous as that seems) Movies like the new Star Trek are just for fun. Not really meant to be absolutely amazing. And anyway, some people just don't like change, and would not like a completely new story and cast. (I dislike narrow minded people but they are out there)
    People make movies so they can make money, and the more people who see that movie, the more money for the producer.
    I enjoy reading your blogs -M

  4. Anon: "Just for fun" isn't an excuse for shitty craftsmanship. There are plenty of movies that are "just for fun" which have much more logical, tight plots. Iron Man, for instance, has a relatively logical plot (at least within its vision of our present). Star Wars (just for fun) has a logical plot. There are dozens and dozens of movies, new and old, that are "just for fun" while also being good movies. I don't think it's necessary to make excuses for what amounts to a poor attempt at visual craft. It doesn't have to be amazing, just not garbage.