Conflicted feelings about Star Trek

May 13, 2009 11:40 pm Published by Leave your thoughts
Spock would be cool in a 70's-style cop drama

I’m going to talk about the new Star Trek movie. I will be using spoilers throughout. So go see it if you haven’t already, then come back and read this.

I saw the new Star Trek movie last night, and I thought it was pretty good. It was great to see so many familiar people and places, and I didn’t realize how much I missed seeing new adventures in this amazing future that Roddenberry created. However, despite how much I enjoyed it, I’m still conflicted.

First, let’s look back a couple years. When I first heard that they were going to do another Star Trek movie I was happy but wary. I assumed that it probably wouldn’t be another Next Gen movie, since everyone was aging too much, and they killed my favorite character in the previous one (and it was pretty ridiculous that they kept having to toss Worf in there somehow when he should’ve been on DS9 or Qo’noS). Probably wouldn’t be about the DS9 or VOY crews either, since both of those shows had pretty definite endings that split up the crews…and making a movie of either would probably be a bad move from a business standpoint anyway.

I was hoping that the new movie would have a new ship and a new crew, and take place after all the other movies and shows, and maybe have a new villain or some other big threat to deal with, since the Federation didn’t have too many big threats to deal with anymore: the Klingons were allies, the Cardassians were crushed in the Dominion war, the Dominion was crushed in the Dominion war, the Borg were…just not a threat anymore…hell, even the Romulans were much less angry than they were before (and are destroyed just moments before this new movie starts). At that point, they needed an interesting new challenge to face, and an interesting new bunch of characters to face it.

Whatever they did, I just hoped they weren’t going to do a prequel. Cripes, anything but another prequel. In a prequel, you know who’s going to live and who’s going to die. The Star Wars prequels were a pretty clear sign that prequels are a bad idea, and Enterprise had unfortunately been cancelled before its time (I liked it, but it too suffered from prequelitis).

So they made a prequel. Sort of.

The new Star Trek movie (which, annoyingly, has no subtitle) was made to “relaunch” the series. It’s not exactly a remake, because it does follow the established Star Trek continuity (more on that later), but it’s very close to being one.

Getting to my point

The events of the new movie alter the “past” in such a way as to create an alternate timeline. This was done to give the writers more freedom, to do whatever they want with the series and not be constrained by established lore. And I think it’s this disregard for the established lore that bothers me the most. Effectively, what happened in all of the previous shows, movies, and books has now been wiped clean (except for Enterprise, and I must admit that I really loved Scotty’s line about Admiral Archer’s beagle).

This has certainly been done numerous times before: someone has gone back in time and changed the “present” (ie: “future”) and the Good Guys have to go back and fix things. But this time, nobody went back to fix things. I’m sure they want to leave it open so they can do a few more movies in this alternate timeline, but if they do actually wind up fixing the timeline, that’ll eliminate the alternate one, and everything that happened in it.

And that’s another thing that bothers me. I really like this new direction they’ve taken the series in. I like the characters and the changes that have been made. Above all else, they made some really interesting changes to Spock’s character, with the destruction of Vulcan, the death of his mom, his romance with Uhura, and so on. Kirk’s character is much more hot-headed now too, since he didn’t have his dad’s influence in raising him.

I think the best thing they can do is to make a few movies with this new crew, and then have them fix the timeline in the “last” alt-Trek movie. But that would negate everything that happens to them in the alternative timeline. No matter what happens, one of the timelines has to die.

The filmmakers who made the new Star Trek movie are already talking about what they’re going to do in the next movie. They could bring back a lot of classic vanquished enemies and races. They could bring back Khan, though he wouldn’t be nearly as threatening without several years on Ceti Alpha 5 to drive him insane. It’s probably best that they stick with the existing enemies of the Federation at the time, the Klingons and the Romulans. Can’t go wrong with Klingons.

But eventually, to restore the timeline, the new crew is going to have to go to the future, and prevent Nero from going back in time, probably by preventing Romulus’ destruction. And that would be interesting. We’ve seen much less of people going forward in time in Star Trek and a whole lot of people going back. Personally, I think it’d be really cool to see this new crew wind up permanently in the future, somehow severed from their timeline, which would be eliminated anyway. It would serve as a great way to get the new fans acclimated to the original timeline too: by showing the new crew what they’ve missed over the past hundred years (or whatever it is) and launch them into a world with Borg and Cardassians and Ferengi and Shapeshifters and friendly-yet-still-crazy Klingons.

I really wish they had just used the same actors and characters in this new movie, changed their names and backgrounds somewhat, and placed the movie some time after Nemesis. But no, they had to screw things up, and do it very well. To quote a Jonathan Coulton song, “you ruined everything, in the nicest way”.

Wherein I solicit validation from strangers:

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This post was written by Bevans

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