John Ostrander: Boldly Go
Like every other geek, I’ve seen the trailers for the next Star Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness. I even saw the extended preview when Mary and I went to see The Hobbit. I’ve seen J.J. Abrams relaunch of the Star Trek franchise and really enjoyed it. I’m a long time Star Trek fan although not to the degree many others are. For example, I have a nephew who groused that if he wanted to see Star WARS he would have watched Star Wars. And, of course, in about two years, he’ll be able to see J.J. Abrams actually directing a Star Wars film.
I’ve also read all the speculation about who the villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (memorably Sherlock Holmes in Stephen Moffat’s TV version), will be. The top contender is that he is a new version of Khan Noonien Singh played by Ricardo Montalbán in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That’s the movie that saved the Star Trek franchise after Star Trek: The Motionless Picture nearly ended it. Recently, Entertainment Weekly added to the fan frenzy by seeming to “leak” that Cumberbatch’s character is, indeed, Khan. Even that is disputed; Abrams has this thing about secrecy and is known to disseminate misinformation, leading the fans in one direction while he does something else.
The thing is – I hope it is misinformation. I don’t want or need a remake of ST:TWoK. Been there, saw that, thank you. I liked the first version just fine. Still works, as far as I’m concerned.
What I want is something new. The opening incantation of the original Star Trek series went as follows:
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Strange new worlds. New life. New civilizations. To boldly go where no man (now no one) has gone before. Key operative words: New. Boldly. That’s what I’m looking for from Star Trek. Not a rehash. Not a remake. Not another re-imagining. Something new. Abrams’ first Star Trek movie did a fine job, so far as I’m concerned, of re-inventing and re-imagining the characters and the franchise. It’s an alternate timeline where things may not be as they once were. That made it fresh and exciting for me. They destroyed Vulcan. Uhura and Spock have a romantic relationship. They need to boldly go with things like that.
Other things in the trailers that I saw also bothered me. The most recent one had a shot of the Enterprise holed, smoking and (apparently) starting to crash. Been there, seen that. The franchise has blown up so many versions of the Enterprise over the years that it has no more shock value. One of the pleasures of the last film was a spanking new original Enterprise. The shock value at this point would be if it survives.
Another shot seems to replicate the famous climax of ST:TWoK. Spock has sacrificed himself for the ship and the crew; he is dying. He and Kirk both have their hands up to the transparent barrier that separates them, a gesture that defines their friendship and creates a real moment of pathos. Spock dies. He is brought back in the next film and restored to himself in the film after that but I don’t see how that will be possible in this version. Again, been there, seen that.
I may be falling for J.J. Abrams’ misdirection and I hope I am. I think there’s a better than even chance of it. What I want is for him to give me something new. No retreads, please. Boldly go where no fan has gone before, Mr. Abrams. Live long and… ah, you know.
MONDAY: Mindy Newell
The operative phrase is ” … its FIVE year mission …” After all these years (upwards of 35 or so ) an unwanted retread of sorts after seven or so ‘five year missions’ might be inevitable. Guess we’ll have to wait for the next movie mission to begin.
Well, you’ve summed up my feelings on the matter. I don’t want it to be Khan either. I am slightly biased, as I’m not actually that keen on the character but I do have other reasons. As you say, the reboot was quite brave in a lot of ways, and I’d like this film to be just as brave. I don’t want it to default to the classic Trek villain out of nerves or complacency. I honestly don’t think it needs to.
At the same time, the alternate timeline offers the writers a lot of freedom, and I suppose it would be possible for them to show us Khan as we haven’t seen him before. I don’t find the original character remotely interesting, although I do accept that I’m in the minority there, but perhaps it’s possible to make him interesting.
All the same, I really would prefer it to be someone else.
A nice text, John. I really agree with you. JJ Abrahms should to try new ideas, new directions for ST. Keeping “re-using” ideas can be not good for the future of this series.
Well, John, you know, if you read my column about the new ST movie about a month ago or so, that I want the villain to be Gary Mitchell. He’s a great character..truly tragic in the classic Greek sense of tragedy.
As for the “rehash,” well, the alternative timeline, which was a brilliant idea by Abrams, gives both old Trekkers and new Trekkers a chance to “log on.” Abrams can use some of the classic episodes, but “with a twist.” He’s already done that with the establishment of a relationship between Spock and Uhura–and speaking of Vulcans, the destruction of the planet Vulcan is a total twist!
All I know is that I am SO looking forward to the movie.
I ALWAYS read your columns, Mindy, and with great pleasure. I don’t know as Gary Mitchell (who, so far as i know, is/was/will be no relation to my own Mary Mitchell) would be as iconic a choice as Khan; if you’re going to do a re-tread, do one that has the biggest bang for the buck. Still, I AM looking forward to the next movie and i would still like it to boldly go where no Star Trek has gone before.
Heh. When Abrams’ “Star Wars” comes out, will people say that if they wanted to see “Star Trek”, they’d have watched “Star Trek”?
LOL!!!!, Mike, and you are ABSOLUTELY right!!!!
I know this is a long shot… But I hope it’s Kodos…
You heard it here first, folks: if the movie goes bad, Duane will be able to say \”Don\’t blame me– I voted for Kodos.\”
I also hope it’s new and different and not another rehash. I really enjoyed the first film and thought it was great. Now I also want something new. Imagine if the Romulans were part of the Federation. Imagine a totally new, as of yet, undiscovered race meeting the Enterprise. Imagine how this Kirk would handle a First Contact situation. Not the Borg. Not the Klingons. Imagine….and do something new please Mr Abrams.
I go along with Steve A; let’s have something truly new, something that emphasises the “EXPLORE strange new worlds”, etc. bit of the mission statement, “5-year” or “continuing” a la TNG (personally, I always felt the adjective was unnecessary — just make it “Her mission: to explore…”).
It’s a funny thing, but a lot of people who, like John, say that they want to see these new worlds, new life-forms and new civilisations, are the ones who are also most vociferous in decrying the Trek movies that tried to do that as part of the plot, namely #1 and #5. Okay, YMMV for them as for any film, but one has to wonder what exactly it is these people want if it’s not actually what they say it is.
I was not all that impressed with the first Abrams movie. For all that it’s claimed to be an alternative timeline, it’s really a re-imagining: the characters, the events, even the ships are far too different from what we saw on TOS for the two to be reconcilable. And frankly, the plot, especially how Kirk came to be Captain, had huge holes in it, second only to the near-ur-example of Crisis On Infinite Earths.
And now we have ST Into Darkness… Well, the title alone has me worried: anything with the word “dark” in it turns me off for a start, as it’s usually indicating that this will be one more example of the Heroes Are Only There To Suffer meme that rules so much popular culture these days. The villain, whoever it may be, will no doubt be allowed to run roughshod over the supposed good guys, blowing their ship(s) to hell, torturing and killing at will, corrupting the not-allowed-to-be-heroes until he finally trips over his own ego and kills himself (or simply disappears). There will be no victory for the “heroes”, merely survival for those that do. Once again, we’ve seen it all before, and it is boring at the very least and a travesty of the concept of a hero.
So, what would I like from a new ST movie? The Enterprise encountering something it hasn’t met before; the crew having to deal with something different from their and our experience; their being allowed to be both competent and heroic as they meet the challenges of this new whatever-it-is; plus all the usual stuff like a good script with lots of character interaction, no retcons and no plot holes; good SFX (though that’s nearly a given these days); etc., etc. Will I get it? I doubt it, though I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised.
I really would like to see the Enterprise meeting a really new species, maybe one based in magic not in science, though during the movie, for carrying on the Star Trek´s spirit, would be proved this magic is just a very advanced science (yes, this would be quite Arthur C. Clark,but I think would work). Or maybe the new villain is a terrorist, one opposes to Federation and wish “free” the world under it. If he was a very charismatic character, one shows himself as really believing in your reason, well, he could be a good villain. Though a polemic villain.
The extended ST:ID trailer hinted strongly that there might be some sort of “revenge against the system” theme, which might be similar to your second idea.
Your first idea has been done to death in classic Trek, to the point that Harlan Ellison more or less said the standard ST plot was that the Enterprise meets God, and it’s insane, a computer, a child, or some combination of the three.
Not saying they w/n do it, but still..
Actually, this movie cannot be TWoK, as Mr. Singh would still be a Khansicle on the Botany Bay. Given that Spock Prime would no doubt have placed big red warning signs all over the database regarding that ship, or any similar “refrigerator/eugenics ark” craft, it seems unlikely that the story would unfold in any similar manner.
I myself mildly liked the reboot, but it *is* Star Wars, not Trek. That JJ will now be directing ‘Wars Ep 7 via Disney, is fitting, as he never like Trek, always preferring the Lucas side of things. Not sure why he chose Trek, aside from a vague memory that he felt it needed rebooting and he wanted to be the one who did it.
The problem I have w/the reboot series is that it does NOT boldly go where no man has gone before. . It goes where every action-adventure buddy movie has dirtied up the floor with muddied tracks, previously: Bang. Boom. Done.
Philosophy? Diplomacy? Not today, thank you; I have to go shoot something while skidding through a plot so full of holes, a Red Matter collapsar couldn’t rival it.
Ah well. . Will see “Into Darkness” anyway. .
P.S. Damn you, John. . I want more Grinner! And Bob, of course. Beeeeeeeeeerrrr!