I am very, very, very wary of this new Star Trek movie, due out May 2009. I have seen advance pictures and the latest trailer and, frankly, it makes me wonder, What’s the point? Sure, you got a new Spock. I’ve seen him and liked him on Heroes — a show that often gets on my nerves for something I can only describe as its “sense of self-satisfaction.” In fact, he is probably my favorite thing about Heroes. Everyone else is so angst-ridden! It’s like Spider-Man 3 every week sometimes. But he and the rest of the cast, especially the dude playing Kirk, just seem like actors fitting the current model of attractiveness playing younger versions of beloved characters. To sum it up, it looks like Star Trek Babies. (See Muppet Babies, A Pup Named Scooby D00, X-Men: Evolution, James Bond Jr., the execrable Smallville, et. al.—i.e., the babyfication or juniorfication* of familiar characters in order to appear fresher and to appeal to a younger demographic.)
I am admittedly a canonist from way back. Unlike many other, undiscerning fanboys, I believe, in the world of serial characters, an established canon should be considered a benefit, something that adds layers of history and complexity to an ongoing story. If you screw with canon, you’re just being lazy or egotistic.
I would have preferred if this movie were a complete reboot — new look, new history (based very loosely on the old framework), and completely new takes on old characters. Like the new Battlestar Galactica, which is so new and reimagined I have zero emotional connection to any of the characters. (Nor will I have them when the overly convoluted show choaks and dies of its own preciousness soon.) What the new Star Trek movie seems to be is a prequel, a prequel that totally screws with canon (just for starters — Kirk driving; anachronistic Romulans; Kirk meeting Pike).
Altogether, I understand why they would want to do keep to part of the TOS world, and even include the godlike Leonard Nimoy. They do not want to disenfranchise the old, old fans of the franchise. A financial decision, clearly. Much more so than a wise one, creative-wise.
In my deep fan’s heart, I honestly would have preferred if they’d waited till Shatner and Nimoy had kicked the bucket. (Which I hope does not happen for many, many years.) Cue “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes. The film feels sacrilegious somehow. It’s as if you had a family reunion, and two younger people showed up as your grandparents, wearing the same old cardigans and still yelling at each other about who farted worse in the car ride over. See, I think a lot of what old fans love about Star Trek is not the space stuff, the utopian future crap, or even the green-skinned aliens, etc., but rather the charisma of the actors from the original, the humor of their interaction, and their embodiment (using now-unpopular acting styles) of archetypal roles.
And, honestly, perhaps this reaction of mine is because my fanboy’s heart has been broken too many times. I now go into any new genre movie very cautiously, very jadedly. In this way, I am not so terribly disappointed. I can go into Indiana Jones 4 and leave saying, “Oh, at least it was nice to see him in the old costume again.”
* By which I do not mean this charming piece of juvenilia.