Star Trek Into Skepticism (Now, with Angels!)

| April 5, 2013 | 3 Replies

I am one of those Star Trek fans who hated the J.J. Abrams reboot movie. I know, I know. Bad geek. Bad, bad geek! How could I not like the new rugged Kirk, the sexy Uhura, the analytic but kick-ass Spock, the very Bones-y Bones?

When I want to watch an action movie, I’ll choose from any of a hundred quite good flicks in the genre. I can get a great free-fall scene from Point Break, or a vehicle chase from The Transporter, or witty sidekick repartee from Die Hard with a Vengeance (which reminds me, why, exactly, does Scotty have a homonculous? Is he auditioning for a spot as the Star Trek universe’s Dr. Moreau?). None of those, however, have the sense of wonder and questing into the unknown of a Star Trek movie. Even the worst of the Trek flicks reached beyond the borders of our universe and met God, kind of. Who do we meet in Abrams-Trek? Old and busted stuff from the past, presentedly in the most ho-hum manner possible. Spock. An angry Romulan or Vulcan or whatever he was. Honestly, I wasn’t paying attention after he busted out the Evil Mining Equipment and the Magical Mystery Matter and blew Vulcan to flinders.

I’ll give Abrams credit for one thing. If you’re going to reboot a venerated series with perhaps the deepest and most rich canon of any sci-fi universes, you might as well blow up one of its linchpin planets. The old Trek guys never went that far. They only blew up a moon of a minor linchpin planet. Wusses.

Now he’s moved on to blowing up major cities on Earth.

I remember this movie; The Dark Knight it was called. Of course, Damon Lindelhof (you know, the guy behind the incomprehensible and eventually-disappointing Lost , the incomprehebsible and eventually-disappointing Cowboys & Aliens, and the incomprehensible and eventually-disappointing Prometheus) won’t tell us who the villain really is nor why he’s into blowing stuff up and breaking out of prison and wreaking horrible threats upon our dewy-eyed young heroes. I’m not exactly filled with confidence as Lindelhof is about as sure-handed with a plot as the baker in the Sesame Street skit is with a tray full of coconut custard pies and Abrams has a track record for promising one movie in a trailer and giving you quite another on the big screen.

Inside the newest trailer, by the way, cleverly hidden next to a half-naked 20-something Dr. Carol Marcus, was a web address where you could find the latest poster for the movie. Take a look and tell me why I, an Abrams skeptic, shouldn’t write this new movie off as Just Another Clever Action Flick with an Attached Popular Brand Name.

Star Trek Into Darkness Poster

What about that says “this is a Star Trek movie” besides the words “Star Trek”? Where are the spaceships? Where is, well, space? Where is the “boldly going”, the very heart of the Star Trek franchise?

What we have here is a plain-old action movie poster and not a very original one at that. I couldn’t quite place what really bothered my about it until a good friend of mine pointed out to me a couple interesting things. First, look at the stars across the top of the poster — Uhura, Kirk, and Mr. Spock, Action Vulcan. Recognize that pose? Here, let me jog your memory.


And the menacing Cumberbatch front and center with billowing futuristic trenchcoat? We’ve seen him before, too.


Charlie’s Angels meets The Matrix? Well, that’s not how I’d sell a Star Trek movie. Compare that to the poster for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the most craptastic of all the Star Trek movies.

Star Trek V The Final Frontier Poster

Admittedly, this isn’t a great movie poster. Why in the world are there what appear to be Mongols at the bottom (you find out during the movie, much to your horror)? Why is there so, so much pink? Why are Kirk and Spock’s faces paintings instead of portraits or screencaps? Still, the essential Trek-ness is there: the Enterprise, “adventure and imagination” written front and center, the whole sense of “going forth” in the zoomy “v” lines that frame the movie logo. I see that and I think “well, I don’t know where it’s going, but it’s certainly a Star Trek movie”.

I don’t get that from anything I’ve seen of any Abrams-Trek movie. Oh, sure, the Trekkish elements are there in the names of the characters and ships. The Federation exists. We have Vulcans and Romulans and Warp Drives and things that cannae take the strain, Cap’n but they all feel like slapped-on labels there to say “Of course this is a Trek movie. Look! Kirk! Enterprise! Pointy-eared logical guy! Hot chick! The other dudes!”

Maybe I”m wrong. Maybe Abrams corrected the mistakes that made his first Trek movie (IMO) unwatchable. Maybe he’s plugged the wonder and exploration into this movie and cranked them both all the way up. I’ve not seen it in any of the trailers, but perhaps he’s hiding all the really good stuff from us. I don’t know why he’d do that, but I accept that movie directors are strange ducks who like to keep clever secrets. So, maybe he’ll surprise me.

While I’m at it, though, I probably ought to wish for a pony.

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