Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Once More Into the Breach....

I keep going back to a complaint Harlan Ellison had about TOS, that fits like a freakin' glove to this movie.

Not only was it mediocre, it was deliberately intended to be mediocre.

They didn't strive to make something great and fail (that's the saving grace of some of the worst episodes, at least they tried something different and it didn't work). They targeted this film to hit that lowest common denominator and get the biggest bang for the buck. From the ubiquitous lens flares to the shaky cam to the MTV rapid edits to the pandering to every Star Trek stereotype in the book, both real and imagined, this film was plotted and made solely to suck in as many people as possible and separate them from their money (nothing wrong with that, in and of itself), and (here's the real crime) BE AS UTTERLY NONCHALLENGING AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE!

And for Star Trek, any incarnation of Star Trek, that is completely unforgivable. Star Trek is supposed to make you think. That this film not only doesn't make you think, but actually requires you to not think, lest the whole house of cards falls apart, is far worse than just another bad installment in the franchise, but a fundamental betrayal of the very idea behind Star Trek that Roddenberry tried to instill in the production and the writing, summed up by his favorite saying on the subject, "There is an intelligent life form on the other side of that television tube!" Eye candy is not enough, you have to appeal to the mind, to the intelligence of the viewer. Short change that, and you sell out the whole thing and reduce Star Trek to "just a movie."

Understand why I'm so angry over this thing now?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Pardonable Sin

Once again, a rant started elsewhere has become fodder for a more detailed rant here.

To wit, the core reason why JJ Abram's attempted Star Trek movie is so intolerable.

To boil it down to brass tacks, though, the unforgivable sin of JJ's movie is it was, not just stupid, but deliberately stupid.

Remember, the whole reason for Star Trek's existence was to elevate filmed science fiction out of the kidvid ghetto it had been relegated to for so many years and above such slop as "Lost in Space" and "Land of the Giants" and do real, grown up stories, address the big issues of the day that other television shows couldn't come within ten miles of, and, above all, make people think...


Fun, exciting, thrilling, humorous, absolutely, but never at the cost of intelligent, thoughtful storytelling. To do so risks undermining the whole thing.

And it is for that one basic reason that I am convinced that Gene Roddenberry would not only have hated this film, but done everything in his power to keep it from being made.

I can just picture him in his office, leafing through the script, scratching through the scene where young Jim Kirk comes riding up on his motorbike to look at the Enterprise under construction, with the margin note "Starships are built in orbit", scribbling through that first scene with Spock and Uhura ("Uhura didn't sleep her way to the top & Spock wouldn't be a part of it"), then hitting on the destruction of Vulcan, at which point he'd call studio security and have JJ and his staff removed from the lot while GR sets fire to the script in the wastebasket and calls up the studio front office to see if they have any other bright ideas for who should write the new movie.

"Yeah, and can you send someone over this time who isn't hellbent on destroying everything I've spent the last forty-five years building up?"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why I Hate JJ Abrams And His Stupid Star Trek Movie

Don't worry, this is not a rehash of the movie. The review is still here, just scroll down a ways.

No, this has to do with the aftereffects of that misbegotten film, and the carnage that's been left in its wake. The battle lines that have been drawn over it, how open warfare breaks out whenever it gets brought up, not just when I'm around, but any time; I've come across many a scorched patch of Earth where previously a thriving discussion was going on...until someone brought up that fucking movie, and all hell broke loose.

A lot of it has to do with how the audience breaks down. I'll concentrate more on the Star Trek fan reaction rather than the general audience, because that's outside my purview. Besides, the average non-Star Trek fan generally doesn't go onto Star Trek message boards, so how they feel about the whole thing is pretty irrelevant, at least to this perspective.

Most fans saw the film, recognized it was six kinds of stupid, but had fun anyway being able to go to a Star Trek movie in God knows how long and enjoy the flashy lights, loud noises, etc., and generally have a grand old time. Many of my friends fall into this category. I happen to live with one who managed to enjoy it. Suffice it to say, though, I do not fall into this category. However, I have no problem with these folks. They're just not at as picky as I am when it comes to Star Trek. Different strokes, etc.

Then we have the group, a minority in my opinion, who think that this movie is the greatest thing since sliced bread, that it is better than anything ever put out by the original series or any of the movies. These are the kinds of folks who seem to be generally embarrassed to be seen as Star Trek fans, lest they be lumped in with those icky Trekkies, and with the box office success of JJ's little film, they finally have a chance to be a part of the cool crowd. Since the vast majority of the audience enjoyed the movie as well (although generally in spite of the actual film, not because of anything actually in it), this group feels quite comfortable crowing about how "Star Trek is finally COOL!" These people can only be described as delusional or disingenuous, as they ascribe some sort of technical or writing genius that no objective viewing of this film can possibly substantiate. Even the positive reviews of the film, which the Paramount marketing machine delights in citing, talk about how stupid the film is. For these fans, it's just an excuse to jump down the throats of that part of the fanbase they've always been embarrassed to be associated with.

Which brings us to the other segment of the fan audience.

The segment that sees this movie as a total betrayal of Star Trek, a two-hour pandering session where all of the stereotypes of Star Trek were celebrated and exaggerated beyond recognition, and find it rather insulting that this is presented to us as "capturing the essence of the original series." The assorted Saturday Night Live skits captured more of the "essence of the original series" than that misbegotten movie even came close to.

Three guesses which audience segment I belong to.

So, we have the one side, we'll call them "gushers", who delight in rubbing the noses of those of us in my group, I suppose "bashers" is as good a name as any, and since those on my end of the spectrum have had to fight tooth-and-nail to defend Star Trek from the get-go, it's only natural to take up arms and charge into battle over this issue as well. And, since we're talking internecine warfare, things have an unfortunate tendency to get personal, really really fast.

They see us as overly anal, permanently clamped onto the teat of the original series, and far too nerdy to join them in the Cool Crowd.

We see them as traitors to the cause, and more than a little delusional, not only over the movie, but on how they've not noticed that the Cool Crowd has already moved on to six other things since their glittering jewel of a movie slipped off the scene. So we also take a tiny bit of delight in how after all is said and done, the wannabe Cool Kids are right back in the ghetto with us nerds.

Which, of course, only makes the snobs even angrier, so the flame wars climb higher and higher into the black sky.

Caught in the middle, however, is that first group I mentioned, the big happy bunch in the middle that were able to put their Trekkie hats in the back seat for a while and just enjoy a big loud popcorn flick that happened to have a Star Trek label on it. And since they enjoyed the movie, then any attack from my side aimed at the snobs on the other side....sometimes falls a little short of its target and lands on the lap of someone who wasn't the intended target.

Now we're fighting folks who are normally friends. With the snobs cheering them on.

That, friends and neighbors, is the state of Star Trek fandom, thanks to that fucking movie. There were divisions before, but now they're blown wide open, without much chance of repair at this point.

And that is why I now completely and utterly DESPISE that movie with every fiber of my being. Not for what it is, but for what it's done.

That being said, I would like to apologize to those I have offended with my sometimes overly broad characterizations of those who liked the movie. I can only blame it on the fog of the perpetual flame war that this movie has inspired.

I hope you're happy, JJ. Fans have always had a habit of eating their own on occasion, but you're turned it into a fucking smorgasbord.