From the first news articles that made it clear that there really was going to be a new Star Trek movie, I’ve tried my hardest to remain optimistic. Everyone raves about J.J. Abrams as if he’s the second coming or something. Maybe it’s just because I’ve never happened to become a fan of any of his shows... but I’ve been skeptical. Hopeful, but skeptical. Now, despite Abrams’ protestations to the contrary, I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion:
The Star Trek that I know and love is dead.
Please note that I don’t consider this a bad thing. I wrote a short essay on the future of Trek nine years ago, that pretty much foreshadows the current state of the franchise. The entire premise was pretty much run into the ground over the 18 years of “modern” Trek. A fresh take on things was inevitable, and necessary.
And yet, like anyone, I want to cling on to the original form of the show that I love. Maybe it’s nostalgia. Or a fear of the potential for future disappointment. But then, there’s always my DVD collection!
Reading the reports about the sneak preview and trailer, I could already feel a bunch of things missing. In their attempt to “freshen” things up, they left out some important ingredients: camaraderie, gallantry, and a sense of wonder. Sure, we get a glimpse of Kirk’s audacity, and Spock’s logical demeanor. But introducing Kirk as an anti-hero seems to be a bridge too far.
Abrams has repeatedly promised that he wants to stay true to the original spirit of the show. And though I realize that only rarely can a team gel immediately, starting out with such incredible friction strikes me as antithetical to Star Trek. And then there’s the contrivances of all the crew knowing each other before they became a crew, which is just stretching the bounds of believability.
Therefore, I have decided that no matter what anyone says, the new Star Trek movie is a reboot, a re-imagining. They’re taking desirable elements of the original concept and the original continuity and weaving them into a new and independent story. In this new story, they are free to ignore inconvenient facts — like the fact that in the time frame of this movie, the Romulans were in isolation and hadn’t been heard from in almost a hundred years — and to create an entirely new look and feel to the universe — like with the new Enterprise.
Yeah, I think the new Enterprise is kinda ugly, but that’s mainly because I’m comparing it to Matt Jefferies’ immortal design. The changes strike me as gratuitous, and excessively flashy. But if the movie is a reboot of the original, then the changes are all the more forgivable, because they’re taking the design in a new direction.
I’m not opposed to reboots and re-imaginings. I consider the new Battlestar Galactica to be a masterpiece, far superior to the original 1978 show. But we could not have the new show if the original did not contain some spark of potential. And so, I continue to have hope, that Star Trek will still be an enjoyable movie in its own right, and will succeed on its own merits.
But it’s not a continuation of the original. Not to me.