Saturday, January 19, 2008

Treat Her Like a Lady

In short, that's the sum total of my advice to producer/director J.J. Abrams.

Treat the starship Enterprise in the new Star Trek movie like a lady...and she'll always bring you (and the box office...) home.

In fairness, this philosophy appears to be precisely the approach Abrams has already adopted. Like every other geek on the net, I've seen images from the teaser trailer, which reveal the new Enterprise, NCC-1701, under construction, and I have to admit...I'm very impressed. The design of the ship, no matter what the nitpickers say, is certainly as close to the 1960s design as was the 1979 Motion Picture version. This isn't an "almost totally new Enterprise" as Commander Decker might say, but a familiar ship with familiar details. It looks beautiful and awe-inspiring; like a lady I could very much fall in love with.

In the months ahead, we're all going to be tempted to second guess the new movie. Is the right actor playing young Kirk? Do the Vulcans look like Romulans? Where is Gary Mitchell? Didn't Kirk serve on the Farragut before serving on the Enterprise? That's what fans like us do. We can't help it. I know I can't help it.

But we should also remember the inconvenient truth that Star Trek has never been 100% faithful to its own history. Remember when it was set in the 28th century ("The Squire of Gothos") or when Spock was a "Vulcanian?" Remember how the Enterprise served in that famous organization called UESPA (United Earth Space Probe Agency...)? Remember how the bridge of the Klingon Bird of Prey inexplicably changed designs between Star Trek III and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home? Peel back a few layers of Star Trek and you can see that there are plenty of contradictions and continuity errors.

Now don't misinterpret me. I want a faithful Star Trek movie, but at the same time, I desperately want a Star Trek movie that my son Joel, when he is old enough, will love. I want a film that will inspire a generation of kids. I want today's kids to grow up with a reinvigorated, exciting, adventurous and bold Star Trek...a moral, progressive and heartfelt franchise like the one I grew up with and which, in many ways, made me the person I am today. I don't want Next Gen political correctness, I don't want the Love Boat in Space where the crew's family beams up to the Enterprise to go through some uninspiring family drama. I don't want fictional adventures in Holodecks...that's masturbation, not boldly going. And I don't want the United Nations in Space. I want what Star Trek was once about: space exploration....going where no man has gone before. I want excitement, adventure, and heart. I want Captain Horatio Hornblower in space again...not some kind of incestuous, insular vision that only a few die-hard Trekkies can appreciate. We must re-define faithful, I believe, in this case. I want a film that is faithful to Star Trek's pioneer spirit and Star Trek's swashbuckling heart. If I get that, but Kirk never served on the Farragut, be it.

So let's hope Abrams treats the Enterprise like that bold lady of the stars that launched on TV screens on September 8, 1966. Today - watching that teaser trailer - I feel that's exactly what he's going to do. I must admit, it makes me feel...young.


  1. Mike De Luca1:44 AM

    Caught the teaser on "Cloverfield"(which, by the way, is a masterpiece of immediancy, damn good special effects, and nightmarish imagery that makes Roland Emmerich clown shoes, not that that would be that hard, I mean, Michael Pare and prison rape in space with Will Smith smoking a stogey and Hank Azaria on manhole cover with Mayor Ebert, ouch, motherfucker, ouch) and the Trek teaser delivers, effects are tight, ship is gorgeous like in the pic, and guess who does the immortal narration? SPOILER: Capacity for getting his shipmates into trouble.
    J.J. Abrams is officially my new hero. Much respect.

  2. astrid9:27 AM

    We watched the teaser yesterday and until it got to the shot of the ship I was upset and anxious. Grungy, dark, Nine Inch Nails-looking metal workers? WTF? If they try to make this edgy and emo I will cry. I hope they take your advice John.