Monday, June 2, 2014


Let me begin by just stating that I am not under the delusion that Paramount gives a crap about what I think. So with that in mind, release the Kraken!

Everyone has their own idea of what Star Trek is. But to a guy who grew up with the original series which was aired during the height of the Space Race, Star Trek was about the adventure and promise of the future. It was about exploring the unknown. Its mission was, as the opening narration told us, "to explore strange new worlds". Heady stuff for a kid in Akron, Ohio who watched the Apollo missions literally take men to where no one had gone before.

So, in a nutshell, Star Trek was about telling stories about what's out there. It might be weird, it might be violent, or it just might be eerily familiar, but it was always exciting, always an adventure.

Flash forward to 2013 and we find that all of that has been abandoned in the current incarnations of Trek. There is not a hint of exploring new ground, either metaphorically or literally. In new Star Trek, it's all about The Threat To Earth, a theme that unfortunately took over the franchise with 1996's Star Trek: First Contact and never let go. Most every film since then has been about saving the world rather than exploring the universe. It's more about war than making peace. And while original Trek certainly had its share of gunboat diplomacy and fisticuffs, at its heart was the concept of bettering ourselves and others through mutual cooperation. Of finding enemies and making them friends.

And here's the problem with that: it's hard to do. It's tough to write an exciting, engaging story about space exploration, especially when compared to writing what are essentially simple war stories. Star Trek has existed for almost fifty years and the low-hanging fruit is gone. Stories about The Cold Planet or the Warring Planet or the Nazi Planet or The Planet With Sort-of American Indians have all been done. Thankfully. Now let's move on to themes more in keeping with ideas that are truly new.

It's hard? So what? If it was easy, anybody could do it, right? So, Paramount, here's my suggestion: go out and hire some writers who are actually interested in writing something new that takes us into the deep unknown and challenges our crew in a way they've never before been challenged. Yes, it can have space battles and conflict, but it can't be just about that stuff. Explosions are not content, they are filler. Characters are what we connect to, not lens flares. And here's something to keep in mind – having a character say the word "family" without anything to back that up emotionally does NOT make the film about family. It's a shallow, cheap way to try to connect. It is ultimately empty, and without resonance. But when Spock died in Wrath of Khan, THAT was family being torn asunder. THAT was a real connection.

And that is what I think the best of Star Trek is about. That's where the bar is set. Please, please, don't settle for a mediocre film experience. Thousands of us will be holding back our money if that happens.

Aim high. Go boldly.



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