Let me start off by saying something that may make some of you spit your drink at the screen but……I don’t like JJ Abrams. I didn’t like Lost, Fringe or any of the films that have had his name on the poster. I could go into detail why but that is for another article.
So when it was announced that he was taking the helm of the Star Trek franchise, my initial reaction was to break into a cold sweat and hyperventilate. Ive always been a huge fan of Star Trek and to read that JJ Abrams (who quite openly said he didn’t like Star Trek) was in the directors chair, well it was very worrying.
When I saw the film, to my surprise I did enjoy it and I understood why some of the drastic changes were made in order to make it more appealing to a mainstream audience. BUT that didn’t excuse some of the major errors that had me ranting on the train ride home.
So here are my top five things that I’m hoping they fix in the next Star Trek film, currently unnamed, which is currently filming for a release in May 2013.
Star Trek has always had ‘’believable’’ science incorporated into the show. The endless techno babble made you believe that whatever problem they were facing, it could be solved by ‘’reversing the polarity of the flow sensors’’ or by ‘’firing a tachyon beam.’’ You didn’t know what they were and it didn’t matter because in Star Trek it made sense, it worked and it was ‘’believable.’’ Even in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock when it was announced that the Genesis Device that created habitable planets from nothing was a failure due to ‘’proto-matter’’ being used in its matrix, you went along with it as being perfectly plausible even though you have no idea what proto-mater is.
The problem in the JJ Abrams directed Star Trek film is that they decided to play around with science that has been established as fact and for some strange reason make it totally unbelievable.
The perfect example of this is the supernova that destroys Romulas in the film. At one point Spock says the supernova threatened to ‘’destroy the galaxy.’’ Supernovas are big but they are not that big and certainly there is no way it could destroy a whole galaxy. Most people know that a supernova occurs when giant stars explode, that doesn’t have to be explained. But then asking people to believe that a single supernova is a threat to the other hundred billion stars that make up the Milky Way is a stretch too far. It makes no sense and takes you away from the plot of the film.
And don’t get me started on the ‘’Red Matter’’!??!
So I’m hoping that they consult with an actual scientist at some point in the development of the film and make the science fiction plausible so that you don’t sit there thinking WTF!
2. Engine Room
Some of the last film was shot on location in a Budweiser factory. That is why some bits of the ship looked like a……factory. This was at odds with the sleek design of the exterior but you went with it to some extent. One place it didn’t work though was the engine room.
The engine room has always been easily identifiable on any ship. Also it being the future you would expect it to look futuristic, but for some reason on this ship, they went with the option of making it look like the engine room on a steam ship. You had vents and pipes, leavers, valves and running water.
When I first saw it in the cinema, I thought that as well as making sure the ships warp drive was working like it should, the engineers also had to ferment coke for the crew to drink and to do that they brought along a fully functioning Coca Cola factory. It was later that I found out that it was actually filmed in a Budweiser factory and that’s what those giant silos and pipes were. So please don’t be lazy and design a proper engine room!
3. Spock & Uhura’s Relationship
My eyes are rolling so far back as I write this, I’m worried I might hurt myself so ill keep this bit brief. I found watching Spock and Uhura kissing to be a bit like watching your uncle kiss your mother, a bit sickly and unnecessary. It didn’t add anything of value to the film, it was unbelievable and I wasn’t the only one who let out a deep sigh when they started getting off with each other.
So I’m hoping they have a falling out in the next film. Especially as this Spock came across as such a jerk in this film, you kept thinking, what exactly attracted Uhura to him in the first place? Maybe it was Uhura’s plan to use Spock to get posted on the Enterprise. She was very quick to play that card when she realized she was going to be serving USS Farragut instead of the USS Enterprise early on in the film.
4. Old School Mannerisms
We all loved Karl Urban as Dr McCoy. It was great to see him eerily channel Deforest Kelly through his performance and keep everything that made Bones so loveable in the first place. Some of the best moments in the film were when he was on screen. The same needs to be done by Chris Pine with Kirk and Zachary Quinto with Spock.
I’m not saying that they should do a full blown impression of Shatner and Nimoy but they need to incorporate some of the mannerisms that made Kirk and Spock, Kirk and Spock. These characters have been developed over the past 45 years and you expect them to behave in a certain way. Taking alternative realities and the fact that they are younger into consideration, it still would be nice to see Shatner and Nimoy echo through their performance. A good starting point for Chris Pine would be to be a little less shouty and Quinto needs to stop smirking.
All the Star Trek films always had the benefit of having very memorable soundtracks. This has been mainly down to the talents of Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner but even when they took a risk with the unknown Cliff Eidleman for Star Trek VI, it still paid off and that film has one of the best music from any Star Trek movie.
Michael Giacchino did an ok job but as with most modern soundtracks, it quickly sunk into bland orchestral blah music after the admittedly rousing main theme. Cliff Eidleman showed that you can produce something quite special even if you lack the experience but you have to take a risk. There is nothing worse than having to watch action scene 127 with bland orchestral music over the top. Giacchino’s music for the scenes on Vulcan incorporated lots of Chinese instruments, which rather than sounding alien and mysterious, just sounded a bit weird. Compare that to James Horner’s Vulcan tracks on the Star Trek III soundtrack where you immediately get a sense of wonder and grandeur. Giacchino’s soundtrack does the basic job of providing a soundtrack and it seems like a wasted opportunity.
It may sound like I hated the film but there is a lot I liked about it but you can’t ignore what was wrong it. I’m hoping the story is better developed this time round as there is no writer’s strike to blame, but recent reports that the film began shooting with an unfinished script are worrying.
It’s understandable that to bring in a new audience, you have to turn up the action and ‘’sexiness’’ but that doesn’t mean you have to remove the elements that make good Star Trek. The way Nicolas Meyer did a complete U-turn for the better with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan after the first film’s critical failure is a perfect example of keeping a good balance and that film still holds up as the best in the series.
Still we can’t wait for May 2013 and to see where Abrams boldly takes us this time!
Note: Also make sure you check out our ‘5 Things We Expect J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek 2 To Have‘ article from last year.
This article was first posted on February 22, 2012