Saturday, March 07, 2009

Boldly going?

I've just watched the new trailer for Star Trek, and I'm still troubled. On the one hand it looks like a trailer for a kick-ass space opera action movie, which would be right up my alley, except they're calling it Star Trek and using the names of characters I'm already deeply familiar with. Yes, it bugs me that they're changing everything. No, I don't know why it doesn't bother me that the producers of the James Bond movies are doing roughly the same thing -- but then, the Bond series is a different animal, which never came to grips with the fact that the world was constantly changing and yet their character was staying the same. I don't know -- but the new Trek movie looks like it might be kinda-sorta cool, but I still hate what they're doing with Kirk and company.

To me, it's like if the Bond people not only did a reboot of the Bond movies, but invented a completely new backstory for him -- maybe make him the son of an IRA leader or something. But every single bit of new Trek promotional material that comes along makes me think one thing: this might be cool if they'd just change the names of the people involved. How about not making it a Trek movie? Just for kicks?

Anyway, here's the trailer:

See, right off, there's what bugs me. Kirk is apparently the delinquent doofus who gets pushed into enlisting by someone else. And the Kirk in my imagination would never utter something like "Why are you talkin' to me, man?" Ugh.

UPDATE: Spurred on by Belladonna in comments, I came up with what I think is a better analogy: what they're doing with Kirk strikes me as if somebody made a movie of Oliver Twist in which Oliver was not an orphan but a runaway from home. I like it when I get challenged to explain myself better!


Call me Paul said...

OK, now that I know the entire plot of the movie...

I hate movie trailers. One as informative as this suggests the studio does not have high hopes for this film.

Belladonna said...

While I sorta see your point, I think it is ENTIRELY plausible that someone could come from a "delinquent doofus " background to becoming a strong leader with impecible integrity. That journey could be explored in all sorts of ways. People can and do change their spots. I'm living proof.

Anonymous said...

Meh. Looks like a Mountain Dew commercial in space.

I suppose it's possible to postulate that Kirk 1.0 (Shatner's Kirk) was something of a delinquent in his youth -- he always had that roguish streak, and there is the Kobayashi Maru thing and Carol Marcus' comment that "Jim Kirk was never a Boy Scout -- but this still feels wrong. Like Abrams hasn't merely changed the details of Kirk's backstory, but the very core of what he's about.

Granted, I'm leaping to conclusions before seeing it (and I hope to be proven wrong), but it already looks to me like this movie may have the same problem that I've got with the remake of Battlestar Galactica, which is that none of the characters have any inherent nobility or even a sense of humor. It's all angst and gloom and gritted teeth. Sorry, not my idea of a hero...

Kelly Sedinger said...

While I sorta see your point, I think it is ENTIRELY plausible that someone could come from a "delinquent doofus " background to becoming a strong leader with impecible integrity.

Absolutely! My problem isn't with the notion of this being plausible for somebody, it's that this isn't the life story of James T. Kirk as it's already been established in years and years of Star Trek. It's as if someone made a new movie of, say, Oliver Twist in which Oliver wasn't an orphan.

Belladonna said...

OK - I keep arguing with myself about this, playing devil's advocate in my head on the issue.

ONE point of view would be that this film is co-opting the movie Title and names of characters from a cult classic in an obvious attempt to grab some of the established fan base from the original Star Trek, even though this film isn't consistent with THOSE characters. I can see how this might seem exploitive or just plain shoddy fiction.

The flip side is that IF the makers of the new film had used a completely different name and all new characters but still wanted to use some of the same elements, themes, technology that appeared in Star Trek they probably would have been critisized for being a Star Trek rip off. (The way Terry Brooks takes heat for being a Tolkein rip off with his Shannara books).

Which is worse?

On one hand, I start to say to myself - it's FICTION. There is no real James T. Kirk. Gene Roddenbarry had his chance. Now other people may want to take the basic premise and people invented back then and see what totally different ways they might be invented or interpreted.

I can see how this mighty annoy or offend some purists, but I'm ok with it.

But extrapolating out from that, let's say I made a film called "Anne of Green Gables Grows Up" and deal with Anne Shirley having a child out of wedlock (fathered by Gilbert Blythe, no doubt) or developing same sex attraction to her bosom friend Diana Barry. Clearly, these things would be WAY out of line for the what Lucy Montgomery had in mind when she wrote the books back in the early 1900's.

To what extent is there an ETHICAL or ARTISTIC obligation to maintain the integrity of fictional characters?

I'm really not sure what I think on this. I'll have to ponder it some more...

Jayme Lynn Blaschke said...

I'm growing progressively less troubled by this film, despite my wariness of *anything* Abrams attaches his name to. The effort is sounding less like the much-maligned "Star Trek: Space Academy" movie concept that wouldn't die throughout the '90s and more of a "Yesterday's Enterprise" effort (ie Eric Bana's Nero comes from Picard's time, and his attacks through time are responsible for these odd disruptions of what we view as the familiar characters' histories).

Granted, this doesn't address Trek's obsessive-compulsive fixation with time travel plots, but at least it validates existing continuity while allowing itself a clean playing field...

Kelly Sedinger said...

Belladonna: I think it's a total narrative cheat to use characters as well-established as these and basically cherry-pick whatever bits of story the producers want to use from their established stories and junk the rest. It doesn't sit well with me at all.

Jayme: The time-travel thing strikes me as terribly lazy justification for what they're doing here, and that annoys me even more than anything else. So now we're going to be exploring the lives and adventures of this crew in a different timeline? What is the point? I'm not terribly interested in a hypothetical Kirk who never fell in love with Edith Keeler or in the voyages of an Enterprise whose corridors were never filled with tribbles, to be frank. And they're not even doing what BSG did and pretending that the original didn't exist; they've got Leonard Nimoy on board to pave the way for their time-travel nonsense.

How easy it would have been to just create a whole new crew with a whole new creative team! It's not like this hasn't been done before. Heck, I wouldn't mind turning back the clock a bit and seeing the adventures of Capt. Christopher Pike, instead of Kirk 2.0.