Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To Boldly Go ... Again?

Variety is reporting that Paramount Pictures is moving forward with a sequel to its May 8 release of its Star Trek franchise relaunch. Yes, before a single ticket has been sold, the studio is moving forward with a sequel. What happens if the movie bombs? Oops, no sequel. Sorry.

I’m admittedly biased. I’m a long time Trekkie, Trekker, Star Trek fan, whatever you want to call me. I was raised on the Channel 11 re-runs of the original Star Trek series in the ‘70s. Star Trek formed my moral foundation growing up. No joke. I actually thought that the Prime Directive (the rule prohibiting the United Federation of Planets from interfering in the social and biological development of any race on any planet) was an actual policy of the U.S. government. I was, of course, outraged to find out it wasn’t. The Original Series remains my favorite. I grew to love the Next Generation late into its third season (which ended in one of the all-time best cliffhangers with Captain Jean-Luc Picard being turned into a Borg). I was hot-and-cold on Deep Space Nine (mainly hot), didn’t think much of Voyager, and thought Enterprise was dreadful. Still explain to me how in the pilot a Klingon can land on Earth circa mid 22nd century and automatically speak English? Heck, according to the story, no one knew what a Klingon was.

I digress. Back to J.J. Abram’s abomination … I mean, relaunch. As a defender of the Star Trek Canon (Original Series and Next Generation for me, think of it as the Five Books of Moses and the Prophets section of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible), I am highly skeptical. The cast looks interesting, but the Starship Enterprise looks bleh (what's with the bloated engines?--warp nacelles for the Star-tech savy). I question why he had to redesign everything. I thought it would have been cool to design this Original Series prequel (that’s what this relaunch is supposed to be) to look 1950s-ish (with modern special effects). Be true to the series. Of course, Abrams decided against that.

What also troubles me is statements by one of the newly hired writers for the sequel, Alex Kurtzman: “With a franchise rebirth, the first movie has to be about origin. But with a second, you have the opportunity to explore incredibly exciting things.” It’s as if there a built-in excuse for this relaunch to not be a good movie. ‘Oh, it’s an origins movie, but wait for the action-packed sequel!” Here’s a novel thought: why don’t they just make a good movie?

I’ll go see the relaunch with a bag full of biases, but I’ll hope for the best. You can be true to the canon and bring in new audiences. The problem may be in trying to attract a new audience Abrams may alienate the core audience and then be left with a box office flop and an aborted sequel.

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