Bring Back Gene
Have a read of this blog piece by Wil Wheaton. I am NOT someone to be promoting or cyber-stalking celebrities, in fact quite the opposite. Wil Wheaton, to me, is what one of his by-lines says. “Just this guy, y’know?” He’s nothing special. He is a writer, and once, a long time ago, he played a part in a part of the Star Trek Franchise. Big Deal. I’m sure he puts his pants on the same way I do. Wil Wheaton takes issue with the opinions of some, Levar Burton being one, who believe Into Darkness doesn’t live up to the ideals Gene Roddenberry instilled in the Original Series and The Next Generation. I’m with Levar Burton et al.
Now, on the Star Trek matter, which is the subject of Wheaton’s blog piece, I too have seen the latest J.J.Abrams re-imagined Star Trek flick, quite a few weeks ago now. I can sum it up in one word. “Fun” It’s not deep, I didn’t find it in any way at all meaningful, as Wheaton opines, but then I’m not American and despite the horror of what happen in New York, September 11, 2001, that event means a lot less to me than whether I’ll have seafood for dinner tonight or not. Dismissive? Yeh, pretty much, but as I said, I’m not American. Combine that with the fact that when I watch a movie, I watch the movie. I don’t try to psycho-analyse the director or find themes which aren’t there. Especially when I go to the walk-ins to watch a Star Trek flick. For me any trip to the walk-ins has to be worthwhile, and fulfill the one demand I make. Allow me to escape for a couple of hours.
I liked ‘Into Darkness’. It moved quickly; had excitement; directions that – in true J.J.Abrams style – took tangents when least expected, but……it’s not Star Trek. It’s not what Gene Roddenberry created. It’s not ‘Wagon Train to the Stars’ as he envisaged an adventure sci-fi gig should have been. The characters – Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Scotty, Bones, Chekov, Sulu etcetera – are neither mirrors of their alternate Universe selves or even close likenesses. They may carry the names of Star Trek characters who went before them, but that’s where any similarity ends for me. Chris Pine makes a great James Tiberius Kirk, but he’s not a patch on the real Kirk, who would never in a million years resort to the bottle because things don’t go his way. Pine’s character also shows elements of doubt from time to time. The real JT Kirk never doubts himself for a nanosecond. Never has. The only thing he really fears, as we all know, is dying alone.
Spock, as a Vulcan – well….half Vulcan….. has little or no emotion that he’s willing to display. Emotion, irrationality and human frailties never enter into his make-up. He will sometimes express what appears to be slight humour that is actually mild sardonicism. Spock cannot cry as Vulcans have no tear ducts. Neither do Vulcan’s engage in ‘sucking face’ as a means of displaying love, tenderness or sexual attraction.
I will agree with Wheaton on his opinion of Zoe Saldana’s character, Nyota Uhura. It is refreshing to see a powerful and demanding female character on the big screen in a Star Trek role….BUT, those of us who genuinely understand the genre, and the Roddenberry way already understand that Nyota Uhura always was a powerful female character. She was never the dusky-skinned bimbo behind & to the right of Kirk with the shiny thing stuck in her ear. She always had presence. The difference being that the character didn’t need to be overt to express that presence.
Karl Urban, as Doctor Leonard H. McCoy is as close as any of the re-imagined characters to the real ‘Roddenberry’ creation. The same abrasive nature, the same ‘Doctor says so’ bedside manner, the down home southern-ish lilt to the voice. However, the moment he says something about Spock which includes the words “green-blooded”, I’ll withdraw any support the character has as a re-imagined analog. Scotty, I really like. He’s as cantankerous as the real Montgomery Scott, and Simon Pegg is as Scottish as James Doohan was….BUT…..what the fuck is that miniature Stegosaurus alien lifeform doing following him around???? Seriously Abrams….what the hell were you thinking??? The last sci-fi character that had an alien creature as a pet was Penny Robinson.
Sulu is okay, inscrutable, somewhat gallant and truthfully we’ve not seen much of him. Chekov might speak like a Russian with a clumsy accent but he’s not a patch on Walter Koenig’s rendition. A little too scatter-brained for my liking. Above all else though is what I’d call the ‘atmospheric’ approach to Star Trek taken by Abrams. It simply isn’t Star Trek. Yes, Star Trek is about fairness & equity, bravery & courage, flawed human nature, bias, bigotry, good-versus-evil as well as damn good character development, back stories and that integral feeling of inclusiveness and belonging that only a weekly, serialised television franchise can deliver. A big screen hollywood money-maker every 2 years simply ain’t gonna keep the idea alive, let alone live up to the Roddenberry ideals. To further distance the real Star Trek fans….the true believers if you will….is the lack of adherence to canon. Canon is defined as being:
the body of rules, principles, or standards accepted as axiomatic and
universally binding in a field of study or art; a fundamental principle
or general rule; a standard; criterion
Starships in the real Star Trek universe cannot enter planetary gravity wells. Why else did we never see the Enterprise NCC-1701, A, B, C, D or E enter a planetary atmosphere throughout The Original Series, Next Generation, Enterprise or any of the big screen flicks…until Abrams re-imagining? I’ll tell you why. Starships are constructed in massive spacedocks high above Mars, loosely connected jigs within which the framework of a starship hull is constructed. Into that shell goes multiple modules which connect to the frame, separated by ‘decks’ all joined up by lift tubes and Jefferies tubes, EPS conduits and plasma junctions. The whole is surrounded by an inner and outer hull just like a submarine. The most important part of any starship is the structural integrity field without which a Starship could not travel any distance, let alone travel at faster-than-light velocities. Entering a planetary gravity well, and even more laughably, be submerged in an ocean within a gravity well, is as far from canon as I think it is possible to get. Further, jumping to warp from the orbit of a planetary body, would be fatal to any starship and her crew, regardless of the state of it’s structural integrity field. Why else would we have seen, in Generations the NCC-1701B navigate to the outer reaches of the solar system before attempting to engage warp drive? It’s all in here, if Abrams had bothered to find out. Clearly, he must know, but for some reason has blatantly ignored decades old and accepted canon for the sake of sensationalist CGI. Oh, and for the sake of the theatre goers trying to enjoy a tale, Abrams, loose the bloody lens flare effect will you? once or twice, fine…….but every time there’s a suspense moment?? In an action flick??
So, yes, I’ll agree with Will Wheaton on some levels, but as far as being true to the real Star Trek….the Abrams re-imagining needs a shitload of work before it’ll have me accepting it as anything other than another ‘fun-to-watch’ Sci-Fi flick. Star Trek…it ain’t!!