Thursday, December 06, 2012
By now, you’ve all probably already seen the Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) poster shown above.
It reveals a future-o-polis (really London?) in ruins, with a trench-coated villain looming over it.
Bracketing this menacing figure -- ostensibly the film’s villain -- is the famous Star Trek badge configuration.
Setting aside the perceived (and abundant) similarities to The Dark Knight Rises poster, which many folks have commented on, across the net, I worry about the kind of story this poster portends, especially in connection with the film’s title, and the released “official” synopsis.
I generally refrain from commenting on a film before it is released, because ahead-of-time worries can’t accurately anticipate the true nature of any film. Any concerns are based on guess work, or speculation and therefore may not reflect the eventual text of the work of art.
But as a whole-hearted supporter of the J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek, which I reviewed positively, here, I must admit that, based on the information we now possess, I do feel remarkably anxious about the direction of the film, and its dissonance with established Star Trek tradition.
We’re clearly not getting a story of space exploration, of new frontiers met.
We’re clearly not getting a story about The Enterprise resolving a conflict between feuding races, or encountering a new or unknown life form.
No…we’re getting another solitary “madman” villain like Khan, Soran, Ru’afo, Shinzon and even Nero.
This madman is described in the synopsis as an unstoppable, one-man “weapon of mass destruction” and again, that description recalls Khan with the Genesis Device, Soran with his trilithium missiles, Ru’afo with his radiation collector, Shinzon with this Thalaron weapon, and Nero with his red matter.
The synopsis also indicates that this “madman” detonates the Starfleet. But of course, Nero destroyed the Starfleet in the last movie, didn’t he?
And, if you read between the lines, the new villain in the film appears to be motivated, like Nero, by some desire for revenge. This time, it is revenge carried out against his own people, in the Federation, on Earth.
Revenge. Mass destruction. War-zones.
And last but not least…“darkness.”
These characteristics are not the main or even ancillary ingredients of the Star Trek franchise, or of Star Trek history, and it concerns me to see a franchise of optimism -- a franchise of “the human adventure is just beginning”-- choosing a voyage into darkness instead of a voyage into discovery, or understanding.
I’m not saying that conflict is a bad thing, or that drama must be all happy talk.
But Star Trek has often made it its business to resolve dramatic conflict in ways that are, ultimately, uplifting.
By choosing not to kill an enemy, Captain Kirk opened a doorway of peace with alien races such as the Gorn (“Arena”) and the Melkotians in “Spectre of the Gun.”
Other episodes involved the Enterprise countenancing destructive creatures, but finding a way to deal constructively with them, as was the case in “The Devil in the Dark” and “Metamorphosis” to name two.
All those stories still had plenty of action, excitement and violence…but they were also inspiring.
A new Star Trek movie could be about interfacing with an alien culture or meeting a strange space phenomena (“Obsession,” “The Immunity Syndrome”) in the way I describe above, and so I find it extremely disappointing and discouraging that in 2013 we are going to get another madman story, another story about revenge, and another story about weapons of mass destruction.
The universe is such a big, mysterious place, and I fail to understand why the franchise must go back to the same story it just told in 2009, with destroyed starships, devastated planets, and terrorist madmen.
I hope that the underwhelming poster, synopsis, and title are actually only a marketing gambit to sell Star Trek as a blockbuster to general audiences, and not an accurate representation of how the film will play.
I am holding out hope, and will gladly admit my fears were unfounded if they prove to be.
But my bottom line is that darkness is the last place Star Trek needs to go, because other franchises have been there already…and quite memorably too.
Star Trek is supposed to be about going to new destinations -- where none have gone before -- not imitating all the latest blockbuster movies.
Let James Bond and Batman own the darkness. Star Trek is supposed to be about the search for the light.