Star Trek: Prequel? Sequel? Reboot? Who cares.

Posted on 09 May 2009 by Quaid

The nomenclature for big-budget blockbusters has become clouded and difficult.  It seems almost every movie Hollywood injects millions of bucks into is either a sequel or a remake.

startrekposter2But what do you do when you need to satisfy both fans of an existing series, known for their attention to continuity, and the rest of the audience–who want something new and fresh?  You do what J.J Abrams has done.  I’m calling it a PreBoot…

Okay, that’s a dumb term.  But it’s more applicable than any of the terms listed in the headline.  See, by using the long-trusted plot device of time travel, Abrams has managed to completely reboot the entire Star Trek franchise–redefining characters, rewriting backstories, and wiping everything we knew about the adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise off the face of the galaxy–without negating any Star Trek canon whatsoever.

It’s really kinda clever, but it’s just a device.  A device that will allow us to watch Kirk’s development and  to experience a whole new slew of space adventures…unless Chris Pine starts asking for too much money.

Ask me any question whatsoever about this movie and I can explain it away using time travel.  Why does the Enterprise look so different?  Well, the destruction of the Kelvin pointed out some serious design flaws in star ships and so they went a different direction.  Why is Scotty stuck on some ice planet?  Well, maybe one of his would-be buddy’s uncles was on the Kelvin, and then that buddy never got a “Hang in There” kitty cat poster from his father’s brother, so Scotty lacked that little extra motivation to study hyperdrive systems when he’d hang out with his friend every day after school.

startrekstill1See?  The possibilities are endless.  Time travel can explain anything.

So coming out of Star Trek, I was excited.  Because this is the beginning of a whole new chronicle of the ongoing expeditions of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

For all the fans that have been wondering how this new reboot would work–whether it would be faithful to the original–have no fear.  This movie is very much the definition of an “update” of the classic TV show.  

Now, don’t take that to mean that this movie is heavy, overly thoughtful or humorless.  Quite the opposite.  All those charming, cheesy little touches from the original series?  You know, like McCoy’s dramatic curmudgeonly nature, Scotty’s wide eyed “givin’ her all the’s got” nature, and Chekov’s ridiculous accent, are all present and accounted for.  This time, though, the humor moves from unintentional to intentional, and I’d say the film is better for it.  Instead of making Star Trek a big, bombastic self-important movie (some would argue this happened a bit with the Next Generation films), this movie embraces the silliness and fun while still managing to not dip into self-parody mode.

And then there’s Captain Kirk.  Chris Pine, I don’t know how you did it, but you did it.  Somehow the young lad found a way to completely embody the rebellious spirit of the classic Captain and still make it his own.  Which is perfect, because this is a different Captain Kirk–a troubled youth whose father was murdered at the hands of a Romulan war monger.  He struggles with authority even more overtly than in the original series.  He gets in fights.  And he despises Spock (only at first, of course).  

Still, there is that cheeky, intelligent, out-of-the-box-thinking leader buried inside of him, and much of this movie is about the joy of watching that classic hero emerge.

startrekstill2Quinto as Spock has been a subject of much debate.  While a couple of my fellow chop-shoppers didn’t like his arc (saying his emotional state was inexplicably all over the place), I kinda dug it.  I liked seeing Spock as a bit of an asshole, a kid with an inferiority complex trying desperately to prove himself–to himself.  We see him wrestling with logic, anger, jealousy, and even Love.  This is as complicated a Spock as we’ve ever seen, and Quinto manages to pull off all the change-ups (in my opinion) while still creating a character that is quintessentially “Spock.”

Thank God.  Because the incomparable Leonard Nimoy gets some shared screen time, and if “New Spock” hadn’t worked, this movie could have fallen apart.

Finally, let’s put in a word or two regarding master helmsman J.J. Abrams.  The man has no fear.  He is bold with his action, his scope, fighting, camera moves, and, most effectively, comedy.  He embraces every opportunity for humor, and knowing the finnicky-ness of the fan base, that’s a very very bold choice.  I’m sure a few uber-Trekkies might rebel, but I think most of them will get it.  Come on, we can’t pretend like the original series wasn’t a little silly, and comedy has always been, and should always be, a key ingredient in this story.  Even with dramatic events unfolding, Abrams finds a way to make us chuckle.  And the movie is better for it.

startrekstill3There is also a smack in the face about half-way into the picture…which I won’t ruin.  Suffice to say that Abrams is not against drastically altering the history of the Star Trek universe.  He does something in this movie that says “Okay, this isn’t your Dad’s Star Trek.  This is a whole new story.”

I say “Bring it on.”

In the end, this turned out to be a movie the likes of which I’ve never seen before.  Its a remake, a prequel, a reboot, and a “re-imagining” all rolled into one.  ”PreBoot” just doesn’t cut it.  

More than anything, it’s a fun-as-hell movie with lots of action, comedy, and characters we honestly care about.  I’ve always enjoyed Star Trek in small doses, but for the first time in my life, I’m in danger of becoming a Trekkie.  

Based on the cash this movie is raking in, I’m not the only one.  God help us all.                           

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  1. Remakes in Disguise! Top 5 Movie Reboots | MovieChopShop Says:

    [...] a reboot, or any other strange term that you’d like to pull out of your ass. (Why just read Quaid’s article on the matter!) Last week, I labelled the new incarnation of Star Trek as a prequel–because [...]

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