Monday, April 11, 2011

(Re)Star(t) Trek

As you may recall, I discovered a blog at the end of March that had a huge series of posts dedicated to reviewing Star Trek by the minute. I have now read through the entire series, which has helped me to reach the decision that I am not a sane individual.

For one thing, I read through the entire series of 117 full-length reviews of each minute of a film that bothered me severely. For another thing, this nonstop bashing of the movie for its inconsistencies, errors, and illogic has finally convinced me that I want to watch the film again.


I will reiterate that I found the movie to be very entertaining--neat action sequences, great special effects, terrific music, occasional humor--but not at all the Star Trek I know and love. Continuity was thrown out the airlock (even more so than usual with Star Trek), a few key characters felt "off," and the whole production felt geared toward attracting a totally different crowd of viewers than the ones who had supported the franchise enough to keep it thriving for over forty years. I was annoyed, and I had no intention of watching the film for a second time unless the inevitable sequel redeemed the damage done to my favorite franchise.

By the time I reached the end of "Star Trek by the Minute," I had purchased and read through the Star Trek: Nero comic (which I swore I wouldn't do) in order to see if any of the gaping plot holes in the film were explained (which they were). Though this series of posts caused me to look at the comic with a more critical eye than I normally would have, I still enjoyed it enough to be reminded of what I had liked about the new movie, and that at least a few people involved with the project still care about making nuTrek connect with Classic Trek.

Still, I'm not convinced that a reboot was necessary, or that the franchise is headed in the right direction. But if there's anything that 117 nit-picky-to-the-extreme posts have taught me, it's that I would be perfectly justified in rejecting this film as canon, or at least in rejecting this film's assertion that certain characters ended up traveling back in time, instead believing that they had slipped into an alternate dimension that's not exactly the Star Trek we remember.

Maybe I'd be deluding myself, but these possibilities have allowed me, for the first time ever, to accept the film for whatever it may be, and to have any interest whatsoever in owning it on DVD.

Assuming I can buy a used copy for under $5 that wouldn't give J.J. Abrams a penny of the money I'd rather be spending on a Star Trek film I didn't have to delude myself into accepting.

It's a fun movie, and it's a pretty movie, but it's not the movie I wanted. That's two out of three, and in this case, I just might be happier if I paid attention to the majority for once.


BurntSynapse said...

As I've said, applying critical standards are not accidentally like science itself: unlikely to lead to maximizing "happiness". I would be first to admit that my critical take on AbramsTrek is not emotionally uplifting, and more likely to spur the emotion of outrage.

Canon? Who cares! I blast the film for violating basic storytelling rules and incompetent execution, while properly lauding actors as well as set design, construction, SFX teams, and others.

Flashman85 said...

Why, hello there, stranger!

As I reread this post, I'm recalling how annoyed I was at the time about the story, not the storytelling--up until this film, I'd been able to write off or come up with explanations for any apparent plot or character inconsistencies throughout the franchise, and this film put me in an uncomfortable position where I couldn't reconcile what I knew of Star Trek with what this movie was peddling as truth.

I didn't give you enough (or any) credit in this post for recognizing the commendable aspects of the film, and I was too hung up on figuring out how to accept the events of this film as Star Trek fact to step back and look at the bigger picture.

It was clear to me that the writers and director were mishandling the property, but somehow I wasn't able to look far enough past the continuity to see that they were crafting a poorly executed movie--not just a poorly executed Star Trek movie.

In the months since I wrote this, I've paid more attention to the names of the writers and directors of the Star Trek episodes I've watched with my fiancee (we're on a 5-year mission to watch through all six series together). Up until quite recently, I took Star Trek at face value, finding some episodes to be better than others but never including the people behind the scenes in my evaluations; all my opinions revolved around the stories that were told, not so much HOW they were told.

I'm not sure if you've seen any of our more recent posts, but my blogging partner and I just did a recap of the New York Comic-Con, which we both attended; I met TNG's "The Inner Light" scribe, Morgan Gendel, and had a conversation about AbramsTrek. Here was a scriptwriter who had been involved in Star Trek (and whose memorable, compelling contributions give me more specific reason to value his input), and he was echoing many of the sentiments that I had summarized in my posts, and that you had expressed in fine detail throughout your posts.

Following that conversation and a subsequent mulling over of the conversations we had, for the first time I was able to look beyond the film's relevance to the greater Star Trek universe and see it for what it is: a film. A film that works well as a summer blockbuster that's explosive and pretty, but a film that ultimately falls apart under the scrutiny of the scriptwriters and the scientists and the fans who give a darn about more than just having a fun time with this property that has had a history of being so much more than just fun summer blockbusters.

I think I've moved past my internal conflict about what to make of this film. Maybe it's canon; maybe it's not.

I realize now that I've avoided buying and rewatching the film not because of that unresolved debate, but because I got my fill of the sights and sounds the first time around, and have little interest in revisiting a film whose execution and violations of basic storytelling rules would perhaps aggravate me more the second time around, now that I'd be acutely aware of the issues and better able to distinguish them from simple continuity problems.