I’ve long since quit my enthusiasm for things Trek, but J.J. Abrams has made a much-needed and refreshing reboot of the franchise; however this renewal seems to owe as much to the original Star Wars trilogy as it does Trek.
Granted that Abrams and his writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman add a little time travel quirk that creates an alternate reality for this new Trek, it does come off with a bit more verve than the original series had some 40 years ago. Both the writing and the SFX have improved, just as Desilu Studios never gave Roddenberry $75M to shoot a single episode.
The idea of a utopian, space-faring human civilization is bourne of a postwar optimism and late ’60′s ebullience that the War on Terror and our current financial debacle have put a fork in. If not for the success of the franchise in years past, nobody would posit a Federation of Planets based upon the United Nations because the latter has been such an overwhelming success.
I certainly don’t number myself among the Whedon-can-do-no-wrong zombies, but Firelfly seemed a better augur of things to come, should humans ever escape Earth’s gravity-well to inhabit the stars. But Paramount has rebooted Trek, keeping many of it’s societal constraints intact, but alterting the biographies of it’s chief protagonists, James Tiberius Kirk
SPOILER WARNING: In this new 2009 film the vengeful Romulan, Nero has altered various timelines in such a way that Kirk both gtows up in single-parent households. Like Like Luke Skywalker before him, Kirk is suddenly an orphan from some backward province. Instead of the son of a decorated officer, he is military orphan with an impetuous streak. He is discovered by one Capt. Christopher Pike and joins Starfleet. Thus is the new new Trek launched.
Given the time-travel abuses that committed by science-fiction, it was probably just a matter of time before Paramount spawned an alternate Trek-verse. This Trek is more action oriented and plagued by coincidences. Like Skywalker, this Kirk finds himself on planet Hoth challenged by Arctic monsters before — surprise! –he comes into contact with the older Spock from the original Trek timeline.
Surely, this alternate-timeline is the stuff of fanboy heaven, creating new possibilities for retelling of the series’ original 79 episodes, but I’m not holding my breath. Trek ’66 was a product of its time as much as Farscape was a product of the late ’90′s.
As Corinthians 13, chapters 11 and 12 says, ” When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child…, but when I became an adult, I gave up childish things.” And that is precisely the head-space Trek occupies for me these days. As a writer, I find it both absurd and arbitrary that Starfleet Officers aren’t allowed to disagree with one another, but Abrahms, Kurzman and Orci seem to be willing to play fast and loose with other Roddenberry Rules 1.
That said, Chris Pine does a serviceble job as Kirk, not by imitating William Shatner, but by trying to inject some naturalism into the role, emoting rather than projecting, allowing Kirk to be a young, inexperienced captain, ratter than the cocksure swaggart of the old show. Though he can’t separate his ring and middle fingers, Sylar does a serviceable job as young Spock. Though I may not become an adherent of this re-imagined franchise, it will be interesting to watch it develop in the coming years.