One comment I've heard over and over again on many of my Trek images goes something like "This how Trek SHOULD be…" or "This how Trek USED TO be…". It's gotten me thinking about the family of big screen Trek movies and how they've changed in flavor through the years. It seems the acknowledged top dog - that is the most universally praised Trek film - is "the Wrath of Khan". But in looking back through the subsequent movies, Khan's success seems to have distorted and limited the "flavor" of the franchise's stories.
When you look back at all the Trek movies between now and Khan, you can see an increasing tern to have the core of the move revolve around someone's vengeance. Such plots were hardly the seed of most of the original series. Sure, it can be OK to use once in a while…. like with "Wrath of Khan"! It was actually a clever use at that point. But honestly, scifi offers far more storytelling options than a revenge-driven human/humanoid antagonist. We used to wonder what the plot of the next Trek movie would be, but now that question is often reduced to "who's the next villain"? Sadly all we've seen about the next J.J. Abrams Trek looks to be more of the same.
Maybe this trend is driven by timid Hollywood marketeers who can only see success in what has succeeded before? Or maybe it's in writers who consciously or subconsciously gravitate to the villain/revenge model? Whatever the case, I find it dreadfully dull and its left me with no interest of what the franchises next cinematic outing holds. From the comments I see on my work, it's heartening to know that I'm not alone in being underwhelmed and disappointed.
So… on that note I hope to leave you with some imagery that's more fresh and inspiring than stuck in a rut. These are not necessarily new entries, but a quick take on my DA best-of. Feast! Click! Enjoy!
Well, now that the first teaser is out for Into Darkness, it appears to follow the trend - REVENGE! Snore. Whatever happened to boldly going ... to seeking out new life and new civilizations? According to Cumberbatch's ("we don't need no steenking Cumberbatches!") voiceover, he's "back" and he's got revenge in mind.
And I have to ask, why does everyone seem to think J.J. Abrams is so 'original?' Sure, he seems like a nice guy, but he also seems very much like style over substance, 'cool' over coherent.
I know! I saw that today, laughed out loud..... and then groaned. Yeah, it makes the whole thing look like a trailer for the next X-Men film. Teasers usually get me excited. This one had the opposite effect and convinced me that I don't even need to see this craptastic poo-ball. It's just another Hollywood film putting "amazing visuals" over plot and characters with any appeal or depth.
Okay, so lets just analyse this for a moment. I've explained this in a number of forums over the years. 'The Wrath of Khan' only works because it has tucked away in the first season of the original series the episode 'Space Seed' and audiences, even if they went to see it for the first time in the 80s, would probably be familiar with that original episode and if they weren't their Trekkie friends would probably have brought them up to speed. It's the prologue of that episode that make the film work.
Look at Sybok in 'The Final Frontier' he's supposed to be Spock's half-brother! It takes great pains to artificially insert him into Spock history, making him an outcast and shunned from Vulcan, but we never saw any episode reflecting any of this in the original series. Thus, Sybok loses the 'Khan Effect' and loses power within the film, the audience just doesn't believe the story of him being Spock's brother. Other villains such as Kruge, Klaa and Chang are exempt from this as they are presented as being 'new' characters with no prexisting connection to the Star Trek regulars.
Moving this into the 'Next Generation' films, I used to cringe when a new film was about to be released and the producers in magazine interviews would say: 'we've got a villain just like Khan', but looking at the cast photos and synopsis you know they haven't because there are no actors from the TNG series in them and we know that Khan only works because of that prologue of the original series episode.
Now. Lets talk about 'revenge'. People always say that 'The Wrath of Khan' is about revenge...the trouble is...it's not.
The character of Khan is seeking revenge on Kirk for abandonning him on a world and the death of his wife.
However, Khan is not the main character of the story.
Kirk is the main character of Star Trek and the hero of the story of 'The Wrath of Khan', and his story is one of a mid-life crisis (kinda odd since he already went through one of those in The Motion Picture), he's feeling that his best days are behind him and he's missing out on the adventure that the young recruits he's training are just about to start. In the midst all of this he's confronted with things from his past that he wishes he could have done differently, a relationship that gives him a son he doesn't know and an enemy who comes back from his past to bite him on the arse! It's also about how he deals with loss and his overconfidence.
Now let's look a the other Star Trek movies. In Star Trek's (including 1) 3 through 6 no one is actually seeking revenge. Kruge is simply a power hungry opportunist, the Whale probe is just following (really nice) programming, same for V'Ger but that one is more misguided programming,
Sybok is just a religious nutcase and although Chang mentions revenge he's more politically motivated. Even moving into the TNG films, Soran is just obsessed with an experience of paradise, the Borg just want to conquer, now the Sona's motives against the Ba'ku could be classed as 'revenge seeking', and Shizon's motives are more like 'you're a measly Federation Captain and I'm an emporer, neena neena!'
So. When did 'Star Trek' become synonymous with 'revenge'?
(Got further thoughts on the whole 'This how Trek SHOULD be…" or "This how Trek USED TO be…' issue, but I'll save them for another time )
Maybe I overstated the revenge theme, but it's there... a lot. I guess it's Grumpy Old Man syndrome, but I don't find any of the films beyond STVI to be very memorable. Literally! I can barely recall their plots!?! I guess my main point is that trek has become dull to me... at least the new stuff. If they brought plots like the Doomsday Machine or City of the Edge of Forever to the screen, that'd be great! But the recent films just feel like unimaginative comic book plots designed to be friendly to the dimmest mind in the audience.
Yep, call me a Trek snob if you must, but what made Trek good no longer seems to be part of the equation. At least for me.
Sorry mate, it might not sound like it but I was actually agreeing with you.
The current (and to some degree the previous) producers in charge of Star Trek seem to have made this connection between Star Trek and revenge stories, and what I was actually trying to say was that when we actually look at the dynamics of the stories in question we actually find that the revenge theme is not the central driving plot element, at least for the main Star Trek characters. So where have the current producers of Star Trek got this notion?
I don't get it, neither do you; and therefore we are cast adrift from the Trek we want, where there was excitement and wonder, adventure and fuel for the minds who want to go with Dave Bowman through the stargate and get that 'oh my gosh' feeling when rescuing space whales.
I want the wonder of Trek back. JJ Trek is like watching a superhero movie of a franchise you're only vaguely aware of, you know the characters roughly, the situation not so much...then underneath is the uber-Trekkie foaming at the mouth as you see in you're minds eye how much better it could be.
I think by that point they knew they'd alienated the true fans enough that relying on them to pay wasn't going to be enough. So, they went the complete opposite direction and tried to recruit the people who hated Star Trek.
You have to remember, the franchise was dead in the water until this point. I mean, even some conventions were taking the word Trek out of their name and branching out. The number of true Trek fans had been going down after every mediocre to sub-par release, to the point where the fans weren't even giving a chance on the most recent releases at the time. (Not that Nemesis deserved much of a chance.) I can't really blame them for going in a different marketing direction.
Really, I wouldn't mind seeing Star Trek stay dead, and have them put that money into starting a new space franchise. We are in dire need of a new space opera series to take the place of BSG, Stargate Universe, etc. (I mean, I love Doctor Who, but it's not really the same genre.)
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`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More