Monday, May 20, 2013

Where Many Have Gone Before

If you have not seen the movie Star Trek Into Darkness and do not want to know anything about it,
please click here and leave this page now. 

Okay, I admit it, I am a huge Star Trek fan. No, I have never donned (nor owned) a Star Fleet uniform, never owned a phaser, a comm badge or even a tribble, but I was there in front of my TV on that Wednesday night in 1966 when Man Trap became the first Star Trek episode broadcast. I was immediately drawn in.

I was saddened when the original series was not renewed for a fourth season - after a third season where its budget was practically non-existant creating some of the worst sets and scripts. (Spock's Brain - need I say more?) Quite sad after seeing what quality it could produce under kinder circumstances. 

I cheered when Paramount announced it would make a Star Trek movie to be released in 1979, but cringed through its entire time on the screen. It seemed to truly mark the end of the Star Trek trail. But someone was smart enough to give it a second chance with a more appropriate script - and lo and behold it reinvigorated Captain Kirk's world. 

Not that it was all Kirk and Spock. We were introduced to the Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine, and Voyager and even Enterprise. 

And then in 2009 the inevitable happened. Shatner/Nimoy and the gang could no longer be the action heros on the original Enterprise, so the story was restarted/reimagined. I was sure I would hate it and be distressed by discrepancies between the Pine/Quinto universe and the one I knew so well. 

But amazingly, it was all handled so well, and even plausibly, that I would leave the theater looking forward to the next chapter of this alternate Star Trek universe. I loved the mentions of moments and memories of the original series even as it went off on a somewhat new direction.

Which brings us to the present (in a manner of speaking) as today I saw the next chapter, Star Trek Into Darkness

I will start out by saying that I did thoroughly enjoy the movie and was happy that homage was still being paid to the original series upon which it exists. I loved hearing Nurse Chapel being mentioned (and believed that if she were still alive today, Majel Barret (Mrs. Gene Roddenberry) would find her way into the movie.) I enjoyed seeing Tim Russ (Ensign Tuvoc on Star Trek Voyager) with a cameo in the movie. There is more but I won't give it all away.

However, I though that the movie relied too much - and tried too hard to present - people and situations from the original Star Trek universe - specifically the Kirk/Spock time period. It was right and proper - even necessary - in the first of the Pine/Quinto movies, but they managed to make it all right for this crew to live in their own alternate universe and travel a totally different path. The connection has been made ... now it should have its own direction. (And remember, I was there from Star Trek's beginning.)

It was too easy to realize we were once again dealing with Khan Noonien Singh and his genetically enhanced band. Even the final outcome (both of them!) of Captain Kirk's heroic act was predicable and almost humorous. It would have been easy to go over the line and have "that" scene be a parody - I give director J.J. Abrams credit for managing to keep it with the emotional impact it deserved. It could have gone bad quickly - yet it didn't.

Before you get the impression that I hated the film, I actually did not. I enjoyed it and will buy the blu-ray when it is released. I may even go to see it again in the theater. I just didn't think it should have - nor do I think it needed - the heavy handed references back to the original series. The Pine/Quinto Enterprise now needs to truly "go where no man has gone before."

Have you seen Star Trek Into Darkness? What do you think?

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