I’m puzzled by trailers for Star Trek: Into Darkness. Star Trek isn’t about darkness. It’s about a better future. Gene Roddenberry’s original series was definitely a creature of the late 1960s, but the franchise’s persistent popularity proves its optimism isn’t outdated. From what I’ve seen, this year’s film is about James T. Kirk struggling with his ethics and summoning up the inner strength to face down a nihilistic villain of the Dark Knight trilogy variety. (Is it Khan? Played by a Brit instead of a Mexican this time? Isn’t Khan ever going to be played by a Punjabi, like his character is supposed to be?)
Now that he’s going to direct the Star Wars movies, J.J. Abrams has admitted to not liking Star Trek very much. That makes me feel bad about liking his 2009 movie. Which is unfortunate because I thought he had rediscovered something that made the original series so cool: for all the space adventuring and Klingons, the main characters were interesting. Abrams’ alternate timeline seemed refreshing, a creative way to break free from the tyranny of the “canon”. Now, all the heresies I was willing to overlook just grate on me. Was he too lazy to understand or did he just not care?
I wonder if Gene Roddenberry would have let someone who thinks Star Trek is so lame direct his movies. But there’s the problem: Gene Roddenberry is long dead, and without somebody who really loves the franchise and what it stands for it’s become just another derivative cultural commodity. Another assignment for some Hollywood brat director to pad his resume.
I get that sometimes trailers are misleading, and that the Star Trek: Into Darkness trailers might be trying to invoke the Dark Knight movies to attract audiences. I’ll not hesitate to watch when it’s released. I might even like it.
Here are some of my repressed gripes from the 2009 movie (which I still like), sparing you the more geeky stuff:
- Dr. McCoy’s nickname “Bones” seems to come from a throwaway comment he makes, as if none of the writers knew or cared that it came from “sawbones,” 19th century term for a physician.
- I haven’t seen any Klingons yet. What gives?
- Zoe Saldana doesn’t look like someone who grew up speaking Swahili and John Cho doesn’t look like anyone in any samurai movie I’ve ever seen. There, I said it.
- I like Simon Pegg, but his Scotty lacks some of James Doohan’s deadpan martial gravitas.