Reboot Trek

Reboot Trek

Saw the Star Trek movie with the family on Saturday.  It was exciting, full of good humor, fast paced, with magnificent and imaginative cgi shots.  The acting was competent.  Karl Urban gives an eerily on target portrayal of McCoy and somewhere Jackson DeForest Kelley should be smiling.  Anyone who enjoys a good action movie should rush out to see it.  The actors and actresses involved in this film have grabbed the golden ring and will probably be able to go on making these films until they are as old as the surviving actors and actresses of Classic Trek are today.  The film was largely family friendly.  Some relatively minor swearing, one reference to Kirk having carnal relations with animals, said as a put down by Uhura to Kirk during an unsuccessful pick up attempt by him, and a scene of Kirk in a bed with a female cadet, an Orion non-slave girl, with both of them in their undies, which is played strictly for laughs and is not salacious.   So, all in all, we felt that we got a good return on our entertainment dollars.   Only one small problem.  It isn’t Star Trek.

I know, I know, I’m sounding just like one of the Star Trek geeks in the Onion video, but the point is true nonetheless.  What this movie does is to reboot the Star Trek franchise. 

                              SPOILER ALERT!!!!                                        SPOILER ALERT!!!!                                SPOILER ALERT!!!!                                    SPOILER ALERT!!!!

The creators of this film obviously wish to begin Star Trek afresh, and thus there are elements in it which are in contradiction to what was previously known in the Trek Universe.  Here are some of the major changes:

1.  The past histories of most of the major original series Trek characters are thrown in the waste paper basket.  The creators of the film wanted all the major characters to come be present on the Enterprise with Kirk immediately upon his graduation from Starfleet Academy, and by the end of the film they are all on the ship.

2.  Kirk in this film goes from cadet to Captain in one jump, thus eliminating all of his pre-Captain career that we know about from references in the original episodes of the series.

3.  Vulcan is destroyed in the film, and the Vulcans are reduced to an “endangered species” of 10,000.

4.  Spock throughout the film simply doesn’t act like a Vulcan but rather like a human with pointy ears.  He even appears to be beginning a romance with Uhura .  In one hilarious scene, Uhura is kissing Spock before he and Kirk go off on a dangerous mission as Kirk looks on wryly, thus engaging in a role reversal from the original series where Spock would view with bemusement the involvement of Kirk with various women.  Kirk in the movie is romantically interested in Uhura, although she is unreceptive, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a love triangle is eventually created in future movies between Kirk, Spock and Uhura.  This of course is far from the personal dynamics between these characters in Classic Trek.

5.  Star Fleet doesn’t function like a military organization.  To be sure, Star Fleet often didn’t function much like a military organization on many occasions in the original series, but the current film takes this to an absurd length.   In the film we have Captain Pike suddenly, for no discernable reason, making cadet Kirk second in command to Commander Spock, who is in temporary command of the Enterprise.  This of course ignores the chain of command and would be viewed as a mortal insult by the hundreds of officers aboard the Enterprise with higher ranks than cadet Kirk. 

 At the end of the movie cadet Kirk is promoted to Captain, using Army ranks that would be going from second lieutenant to bird colonel in one jump, and given command of the Enterprise which would be equivalent to giving command of a brigade to a graduate of West Point about a week after graduation. 

Ensign Chekhov is 17 years old so I guess we have to assume that he never attended Star Fleet and was commissioned in some mysterious way. 

McCoy, although he is already a doctor, appears to be attending Star Fleet, which would make an interesting experience for someone who has been through med school basically repeating college as an undergrad.

Once you come to terms with the fact that this is not Classic Trek, and that we have” boldly gone” on to something else, it is enjoyable.  From a commercial standpoint I can understand doing it this way.  Having new actors and actresses in the old roles in a new series of films that closely imitated the old series might have worked on the basis of nostalgia once or twice, but my guess is that the people behind this project have grander plans.  What we have here is a new birth of the Star Trek universe.  Some of the names are the same but everything else is up for grabs.  This gives ample freedom for creativity in future films.  This project could have easily ended in artistic and financial disaster, but the creators have carried this off I think on both fronts and they are to be congratulated for skillfully devising what may be the top grossing, and perhaps most entertaining, film this year.

9 Responses to Reboot Trek

  1. Anthony says:

    It was good. Exactly what the franchise needed. Though, to be honest Trek has been in these situations before. “Enterprise” started off with a great 2 hour pilot, but quickly got bogged down and only began delivering on its premise in seasons 3 and 4. By then it was too late.

    The score is fantastic and keeps growing on me. Some great musical choices made.

    The only thing that bugs me was the villain not saving Romulus by taking advantage of the fact that he was back in time. There was dramatic opportunity there, if in the 25 year gap we saw Nero attempt a new life on Romulus only to realize he still held a deep resentment towards Spock for Romulus’ future destruction.

    But by in large this works well, if you can wrap yourself around the incredible amounts of coincidence this film is filled with. I’d imagine the makers accepted all the coincidence in order to preserve an unrelenting pace in the film. This film MOVES, and rarely stops to take in much of a breather.

  2. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Your last sentence says it all Anthony. I have rarely experienced a faster 126 minutes in a movie theater. A movie that can keep your attention for that time period, especially an adventure film, is a rare find indeed.

  3. Donna V. says:

    I think fans who remember TOS accept the reboot because not only is the new movie fast-paced and fun, but there were plenty of plot holes and implausiblities in TOS. (The biggest being that the senior officers would be the ones beaming down into dangerous situations and doing the hand-to-hand fighting. As Jonah Goldberg hilarously pointed out, if Gene Roddenberry had written WWII, he would have had FDR and Churchill charging into that bunker in Berlin and killing the entire Nazi high command singlehanded before finishing off Hitler in a sword fight.) So in that respect, the reboot is totally Star Trek.

    It’s a great thing, to be a senior officer on “Star Trek” – you do most of the fighting, but never get killed. (Not in TOS, at any rate. Main characters were killed off in the movies.) Getting killed is reserved for “Olson.” The second Olson was introduced, I knew Olson would not be with us for long.

    I agree that Karl Urban’s performance was the most impressive. He stole every scene he was in. Pine has the swagger and derring-do Kirk should have, but he struck me as more of a cocky frat boy than a leader of men. But of course, this Kirk is still a callow youth. I expect he’ll grow into the part.

  4. Donna V. says:

    Another thing: I recall that in TOS, Kirk (who was what, about 35, then?) was the youngest Starfleet captain. And it was understood that he had done his time on other ships, working up the ranks. In this film, as Don points out, the principals go from graduation to command of the Enterprise at warp speed. It’s like having Bobby Lee heading up the Confederate Army 10 minutes after leaving West Point.

    I wonder if audiences aren’t more willing to swallow that now because relatively few of them have military experience. In 1966, the veterans of WWII were in their 40’s and plenty of younger men had served in the draft. “I Was a Teenaged Captain” would have been a harder sell in 1966.

  5. Phil says:

    Hello all,

    Here’s my two credits worth! ***Spoiler Alert*** The key to this whole movie is when Ambassador Spock is speaking with young Kirk about the various realities, thus giving the whole movie the awareness that it is NOT the original timeline. In my judgment, that makes all of it acceptable under the Star Fleet umbrella – just don’t let the temporal department get a hold of it, though.

    Of course, Olson (Olsen) gets killed, he was wearing a Red Shirt! I love the other multiple references (including Tribbles) to TOS that were included “Damn it, Jim, I’m a Doctor, not a …” and “I’m giving it all she’s got, Cap’n!!” All we’d need is Uhura to state “Hailing Frequencies Open, Captain”, but I guess they couldn’t quite fit it in. Maybe on the next viewing I’ll catch it.

    This movie was well worth the wait. Pine makes a great Kirk, catching all the essence of Kirk without imitating Shatner. Quinto had a very difficult job breathing life into the new version of Spock, and while different, he did as well. I wasn’t too keen on Scotty to begin with, but he grew on me, as did Sulu, and Uhura. The jury is still out on Chekov.

    Remember, Roddenberry did not envision Star Fleet as a Military Organization, but rather what he thought it could be, not unlike our Coast Guard, and in that vision, I judge the new Star Fleet did admirably well.

  6. JC says:

    I generally agree with your analysis, but you’re missing one key reference:
    The *whole crew* were cadets. Like in Star Trek II, this was supposed to be crew made up of recent Academy graduates. Remember–they activated the cadets because of some alleged emergency that no other ships were available.
    Only a few of the Enterprise crew members are actually officers when the ship leaves earth: Pike, the original doctor (who dies offscreen), Olsen, and Spock (while higher rank than he should have been in the “Original timeline”, Spock apparently graduated at 22, like he should have, whereas Kirk started the Academy at 22 in the film).
    So Kirk getting a field commission to XO had to do with his rank among the cadets.
    Similarly, Chekov being 17 was a reference to his being an ensign introduced in season 2: the rest of the crew are upper classmen. Again, Chekov said he was on the bridge because the guy who was supposed to be ops officer was sick.

    So, if the timeline hadn’t been altered, Kirk and Spock would have both started the Academy in 2251. Uhura and Sulu (since they were already cadets) would have started in 2254 or 2255. McCoy would’ve started in 2255 (as a second career in the military). Chekov would’ve started in 2258 and graduated in 2262.

    Because of the timeline changes, as I take it, Spock’s Academy years were 2251-2254; Kirk and McCoy 2255-2258; Uhura and Sulu possibly a full 4 years; and Chekov 2258-2258.

    So, it’s pretty contrived, but it makes a bit of sense. And _Star Trek_ has a history of field commissions–as does the real life military. Let’s not forget Wesley Crusher, or Nog (along with an entire class of Academy students during the Dominion War).

    But there were an awful lot of “coincidences” (as often happens in Trek): Nero just *happens* to arrive in a time accident at the point where Kirk’s being born; Ambassador Spock just *happens* to arrive around the time of Kirk’s notorious graduation exam; Kirk just happens to get marooned on the same planet as elder Spock; etc.

    It would have made a lot more sense if, as fans expected, the time travel was intentional.

    All of that said, my impression of this movie, coming into it, was that it was supposed to work “both ways”; altering the timeline in order to pave the way for new movies and explain subtle differences while still allowing it to be seen as a “prequel” to TOS. There ain’t no way this is a prequel to TOS.

    Like, you can watch _Batman Begins_ as *either* a reboot *or* a prequel to the 1989 film.

    But they’ve altered the time line too drastically. Blowing up Vulcan was a bad move: are we to believe that all major Vulcan characters are coincidentally part of the 10K?

    I left the film feeling like I’d been insulted.

  7. Donna V. says:

    What I want to know is when and how does Iowa acquire canyons? During WWIII? And the idea that the Beastie Boys songs (the rock music blaring from the antique Corvette) survive the ages is almost as alarming as Vulcan blowing up:-)

  8. Tito Edwards says:

    I like the new Star Trek. Everything is explained well enough to suspend belief (this is science fiction after all).

    I thought all the characters did very well in their roles without looking like they were trying to be something they’re not.

    Especially Karl Urban who played McCoy (I agree with Don on this). He played it very well. So well that he seems to have been the real McCoy rather than his predecessor. He is going to play a more prominent role in the next film which I can say that I am impatiently waiting for.

    This movie was so good that in my opinion it ranks right up there with Star Trek II.

    It’s the movie of the year. Action-packed all the way around.

    I have no complaints whatsoever. Even the bedroom scene was not what I expected.

    And having Spock show some emotion was just about right. If that is all he shows then I can live with his outburst. Come on you guys, he just lost his mother AND his home planet. Plus he’s a young man still trying to come to terms with his human side as well as with his emotions. And having Uhura as a love interest is simply brilliant. I do hope though that no triangle develops between her, Spock, and Kirk.

    I haven’t been this happy with a film since I laughed through Tommy Boy the first time through.

  9. Anthony says:

    “But they’ve altered the time line too drastically. Blowing up Vulcan was a bad move: are we to believe that all major Vulcan characters are coincidentally part of the 10K?”

    I’ve been thinking about this and really shouldn’t the number be more like half a million to a million. It would just seem to me that Vulcan would have had a not-insubstantial number of people off planet doing their various jobs.

    Perhaps the 10K are just the ones that got off the planet.

    They’ll never tell you which Vulcans survived. I’m going in presuming that T’Pol, T’Pau and even Spock’s half-brother Sybok could all still be out there. I was more disappointed with the loss of Amanda Grayson. If we want Vulcan back all they have to do is find a new planet and call it “New Vulcan”. Interestingly the move basically leaves Spock with just a father and Kirk with just a mother. I wonder if that was intentional…

    Oh and Batman Begins is totally a reboot. No way that could ever been seen as a prequel to the ’89 film. Its a completely different universe. Same with Casino Royale. Star Trek is the only film I can think of that is trying to show you all the things you’d want to see in a prequel while doing a reboot in order to reintroduce unpredictability into the storyline.

    Next Star Trek movie…. more MCCOY!

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