Friday, January 18, 2008

New Star Trek Movie

With the release of J.J. Abrams cleverly secretive but tantalizing monster movie Cloverfield today, fans will be treated to a teaser trailer for Abrams’ next project: Star Trek. Many hope Abrams’ touch will resurrect this moribund franchise which barely churned out a game to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Trek.

And behold the power of the Internet, not to mention the proliferation of recording devices that would make Scotty beside himself, someone has recorded the trailer and it is now online. Catch it before the Ferengi lawyers from Paramount get it yanked down.

Naturally with any such long running and pretty successful franchise, the trailer has further fueled the Star Trek Canon Wars when only a description of the trailer recently leaked out. There are two big points of controversy I will tackle in this post.

Controversy #1 is, Where the heck did they build Enterprise? What has the fans a-twitter screaming about canon or non-canon is this trailer shows Enterprise under construction and the welders are not in space suits. Which is leading some to say its being built on Earth, which means it is not canon. The accepted canon according to such sources as Bjo Trimble’s Enterprise Concordance or Okuda’s Star Trek Chronology is Enterprise was built in orbit at the San Francisco Naval Yards. As an aside, to build a non-aerodynamic starship like Enterprise in a gravity-well with atmosphere is pretty stupid – besides think of starting up an engine that uses anti-matter on a planet, talk about safety concerns. I admit the quality of the trailer leaves something to be desired but I seem to see in the background scaffolding and walls. So I shall take a swag and theorize NCC-1701 is in orbit in an enclosed berth where all the parts are assembled. Which will jive with what is seen in the trailer. End of controversy #1

Controversy #2 is, Oh my gawd its about Starfleet Academy! Since we do not know the whole script, to get one’s knickers in a knot at this point is pretty senseless. But remember this is supposed to be about a young brash James Kirk, which means the other crewmembers will be just as wet behind the ears. Except for Spock who served under Capt. Christopher Pike aboard Enterprise for 11 years before command passed to Kirk. So I am resigned to seeing at least a little bit about the Academy, perhaps Abrams will focus on the last days of Kirk’s senior year with the Kobayashi Maru test. Again we don’t know the whole script except they have cast people to play Pavel Chekov, who was probably in junior high when Kirk is in the Academy, along with Capt. Christopher Pike and James Kirk’s parents. So this movie maybe covering quite a few years, from the outfitting of Enterprise under Capt. Robert April to perhaps Kirk serving a snotty tour about the same ship until Pike transfers command unto James Kirk. Since they have cast people to play Romulans, there the good ship Enterprise and its continuity could founder since it’s the episode Balance of Terror in which Enterprise first encounters Romulans face to face since the Earth-Romulan War of a century before. Or Abrams is introducing the Romulans as shadow agents of change and influence which Kirk and others will never suspect, perhaps thinking they are Vulcans – which means chances of Spock being in those scenes would be slim. So exit stage left the primal whining of this being Jim Kirk’s Academy Days.

This is all speculation on my part from too little information so take it with a large dilithium crystal. I maybe right or I could be terribly wrong. I will try and not go off the deep end like some in the Canon Wars do. But judging from this teaser I am willing to give Abrams the benefit of the doubt and produce a good movie that honors the series without betraying the vision of the Great Bird of the Galaxy.

P.S. I am a fan of Star Trek but I truly abhor terrible writing in any genre, Trek being no exception. Which is why in my movie library Star Trek V, and any of the Next Generation movies are MIA.

For further reading:
The Making of Star Trek: What it is – how it happened – how it works! Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry. Ballentine Books, New York, 1968. 414 pages.

Star Trek Concordance. 2nd Edition. Bjo Trimble. Citadel Press Book, New York, 1995. 332 pages.

Star Trek Chronology – The History of the Future. Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda. Pocket Books, New York, 1996. 342 pages.


The Emerald Islander said...

Very interesting entry. I am glad that I read it, as I was not aware of a new Star Trek film in the making.
Could be interesting to focus on the early days, with Kirk still at the Academy. But I agree with you, there are plenty of chances to get details wrong. Ever since Gene Roddenberry went up to the stars himself, Star Trek is no longer the same.
I am - and have been - a Trekkie for a long time. Being also an ex naval officer from the 20th century it is always of special interest for me to compare fleet and board matters with the comrades from the future.
Now that I have found your weblog I will look in now and then, and perhaps you find out more about the new film project. Qapla!

Anna said...

Emerald Islander, please do return and grace these pages with your views.

I had started hearing some rumours a few months back on this new movie but did not pay attention until a friend passed along a URL with the first image of Enterprise under construction. Then it seemed the information gates opened up just a little bit and now we have the teaser to whet the appetite.

I do hope they get it right with this movie. Insurrection, First Contact, and other Next Generation movies just about ruined the franchise for me. And thinking about Star Trek V, please JJ Abrams do not get this Uhura to do a fan-dance. Nor Kirk singing 'Row row row your boat.'

Timothy said...

HI Anna,
I come and go with being a fan, which in some's view would not make me a fan. I think I really burned out with the Next Generation, as you mentioned. The plots went like this:
Major life threatening problem for 50 minutes of show.

Minute 51, technological solution... all are now happy. Yawn. I've always wondered why they couldn't get into a real, knock down drag out war to keep things going. What war do we know of that ever lasted 50 minutes... well, there was Grenada., but besides that... :)

Anna said...

Timohty in Deep Space Nine they did get into a war with the Dominion. With Voyager, to deal with the Borg, the writers scraped the bottom of the barrel and dragged in an even worse species.

Its been done, just not well. One of the things Berman et al could have done, instead of revisiting the Tribbles episode, was to go see how Iotia was doing - heck that could have been a whole series called Starfleet Vice.. or back to Ekos to see if they weeded out the bad Nazi things.

David Gerrold and DC Fontana, after Season One of Next Generation, penned a scathing article saying the show was boldly going nowhere. Gerrold did have bone to pick, he wrote the series premier episode Farpoint, because the show bigwigs nixed his Fire&Ice episode because it dealt with a homosexual crewmember and the bigwigs were afraid of a backlash. If that thinking had prevailed in the original series, think Patterns of Force or Plato's Stepchildren would have been produced? Not on your furry little tribble-phaser.

So, while I hope JJ Abrams can restore some of the frachise, I do not expect him to revive it fully because it took Berman over a decade to ruin the franchise.