I’ll admit it. I have been a Star Trek fan for a long time. I’ve watched re-runs of all the original episodes, and though the special effects are lame by today’s standards, the show was absolutely groundbreaking when it aired. It explored ideas and moral dilemmas that were inaccessible to other shows at the time. It was mind-expanding for a whole generation of people, many of whom went on to work in the space program. Sure, some of the episodes were goofy, but most of them were thrilling and well written.
Then came Star Trek: The Next Generation, possibly my all-time favorite TV show. True, it also had its silly moments (the pilot episode was goofy, and remember the “crystalline entity”?), but most of the episodes were well written and, like the first Star Trek, they explored topics out of reach for regular programming. Who can forget “The Measure of Man,” where Commander Data’s legal standing as a sentient being is called into question? Episodes like that made the show just as mind-expanding–if not more so–than the original series.
With each new iteration, however, the franchise lost more and more of its luster. Deep Space Nine was pretty good, Star Trek: Voyager less so, and the most recent show, the pre-Kirk Star Trek (now canceled), the lamest of all. So lame, in fact, that I can’t even remember the name. And now there are the latest movies.
I’ll come right out and say it: I will not be going to see “Star Trek – Into Darkness.” In fact, I doubt I will even rent the movie on Netflix.
There are two reasons for this. First, the reviews have been terrible. That in itself has never been a sufficient reason for me to skip a movie; after all, the taste of reviewers (who often tend to be rather full of themselves) is not always my taste. I have thoroughly enjoyed some movies that were universally panned. But in this case, it’s what the reviewers are saying that puts me off. If the new movie is indeed just a re-hash of old Star Trek stories (and a poorly rendered one, at that), then what’s the point of seeing it?
The second reason is by far the most important one. The first “new” Star Trek movie stunk. Admittedly, it started off well. I really liked seeing how Kirk and Spock began as rivals before they became friends. It was interesting to see all the characters as young people, and to see how they began their development into the characters we know so well. But then the movie lost sight of character and went completely off the rails. Two things in particular ruined it for me. First, for an ensign to break all the rules (and the law) and then suddenly be rewarded with command of the fleet’s flagship was so utterly ridiculous and unbelievable, I simply could no longer suspend disbelief. No military organization is EVER going to do that. And second, anyone who has ever watched the original Star Trek episodes knows that the Enterprise was NOT Kirk’s first command. To ignore that, as the writers did, was the kiss of death.
The movie earned some praise for “re-imagining” the franchise, but you can’t just re-write history. Can you imagine a new Harry Potter movie where Harry is depicted as joining Slytherin first and then changing his mind at the end of the film? Every HP fan in the world would scream in dismay at this flouting of established fact. Or what if someone produced a movie in which John Glenn took the first step on the moon? No one would tolerate it. Kirk has a HISTORY, and to ignore it for cheap cinematic thrills and a bang-up ending was appalling to me.
So the producers have lost me. I won’t bother seeing Into Darkness or any other new Star Trek movie, because they are based on a lie.