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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

REBOOTING STAR TREK: A MISSED OPPORTUNITY

"Make it so."

I haven't seen Star Trek Out of Darkness yet, although what I've read from fans and reviewers makes me leery of the film.  I enjoyed the first Abrams reboot well enough despite its plot oddities.  Exactly how advanced are the Vulcans supposed to be if they have zero air defense whatsoever?  The film made it look like they were cave dwellers.
The casting was pretty well done.  Karl Urban is great in anything he does, the treatment of Uhura is a great idea since she was such a blah, one-note character.  Spock is well cast, and Simon Pegg is always entertaining, this time as a real Scott.  But Kirk, I've just never liked Chris Pine as Kirk.  He just doesn't seem to fill the shoes well at all and he's been written so poorly.  And to me that is the key to the entire show.
If I was going to pitch Star Trek to a television exec it would be something like "Horatio Hornblower in a submarine, but in space, with a twilight zone vibe."  The feel of the Enterprise has a very appropriate submarine feel, down to the cranky ethnic engineer.  Captain Kirk is basically Hornblower, and the episodes tended to have a moralistic feel to them, each one teaching something about humanity and ethics.  If the half white, half black people can get along, why not us?
And if I was going to reboot Star Trek as Abrams did, I would have done it a lot more closely matched to the Hornblower book sequence.  Don't slap him into a captains chair by the end of the first book, he's a young punk who basically got on a star ship by cheating and punching everyone in his way.  He's clearly not qualified to be a captain in any remotest sense.
I get that Hollywood writers are at best vaguely familiar with military and command, but this was so badly done and so obviously the result of some executive yelling "we need him to be captain as soon as possible!"
The first film should have been mostly starfleet school with a small bit at the end in the Enterprise with Kirk as a raw ensign shining brightly but within his limited role.  The second could be him getting promoted at the end to a second officer to Pike, and the third end with him being put in charge of a starship, but not technically a captain until the end. 
That way, instead of "what old Star Trek theme can we redo" it would be "how do we tell the story of these characters in this setting in an interesting, engaging way?"  The plots would be driven more by the story and the concept than rebooting continually.
I know this would require a lot of patience on the part of viewers, and its awfully  hard to get a cast to stay on contract and in a film series longer than 3 movies, but it would have been a much better film series. In truth, this structure would work best as a TV series with each film described above as a season in the show.
But its too late now, and the chances of getting a real reboot done in this manner before 2047 are pretty slim.

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