Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What's Wrong With Star Trek?

This year is Star Trek's 50th anniversary, and the most recent film 'Star Trek Beyond" has, for the most part, left theaters. It's now available for digital download, and Blue Ray/DVD release is later this week. I like the film. But I don't like it enough to have seen it more than once in the theater or to buy it. Future viewings will either be as a rental or on television.

Don't get me wrong. It's not a bad film. If I were a professional reviewer, I'd give it a rating of seven out of a possible ten. It's just not the film I hoped for and wanted. We get, as viewers, a third straight film in which the Enterprise crew is unable to defend the ship, and the ship itself is not able to withstand an attack.

We get, for the third straight time, an antagonist whose motives are not clearly defined and stated. 

We do get a third straight wonderful performance from Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy. Also we have a nicely done turn by the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov.

Let me backtrack here, please. The current film series began in 2007 with a wonderful film by J.J. Abrams. It managed the difficult task of giving us a fresh start while also honoring what had been done before. But, goodness, the powers that be really screwed up after that.

First, a series of novels set in the new timeline were ready to be published and then were cancelled. Then, the studio took four long years to give us a sequel. Contrast that to the three films that Paramount released in the early to mid 1980s. "Wrath Of Khan" came out in 1982, followed by "The Search For Spock" in 1984 and "The Voyage Home" in 1986.

Now, back to the present. The most recent film had not one, not two, but three different scripts attached to it. The first was dropped and Simon Pegg, who stars as Mister Scott, co-wrote a new one that the studio felt was going to be not easily accessible to casual viewers. That script, by almost all accounts, would have held great appeal to long time fans. Paramount then asked Pegg and Doug Jung for a second effort. That script was the one to be filmed.

Unfortunately, a good twenty minutes were eliminated from the cut that director Justin Lin turned in, material which reportedly does a much better job of explaining the motives and actions of Idris Elba's character.

Star Trek is a great saga, and a wonderful concept. Sadly, the last two series, "Voyager" and "Enterprise" were often very uneven from week to week in terms of quality. Even more sadly, the final season of "Enterprise" did so badly in the ratings that a sixth season was out of the question. That fifth season, with the exceptions of its first and its final episode (the former a conclusion to season four's last episode, the latter an ill-conceived story that used the characters of Will Riker and Deanna Troi from "The Next Generation"), hit all the right notes. So much that a fan-based campaign for season six offered to raise the money to pay the studio's expenses to film the show.

Of course, the legalities of such an effort simply could not be worked out.

I don't want this to be a total downer, so later tonight or early tomorrow, I'm going to say some very positive things and offer some suggestions.

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