JJ Abrams’ Star Trek sequel is coming and like the Sun expanding and swallowing the Earth, it can’t be stopped. OWF looks ahead to one of the most anticipated blockbusters of 2012 with our wish list for the new movie. The filmmakers should note that we will expect you to act on these recommendations. No really, don’t make us come over there.
If you haven’t yet checked out our Star Trek villains wishlist you can still read that here. But now the discussion turns to what OWF expects from Star Trek 2;
As opposed to a series of incidents designed to get your characters to the point where a real story might begin. The first film was tremendous fun but the treatment of our favourite characters was superficial when stacked against the likes of Star Trek’s 2, 3, 4 and 6. Ah, you say, ‘but it was a reintroduction to the characters was it not? We weren’t expecting an existential tract.’ Well even within the origin tale there’s the potential for a real story with psychological depth, witness the meaty character driven X-men prequel for an example of how this can be done.
The reboot had a villain who was less a character, more a device to bring the crew together. His motivation made little sense, he had no personality and he lacked the quality required of any memorable adversary, a second and third dimension. The new film must ask more of its characters and give them a real problem to solve, not just a world to save. This must be a problem that tests the crew both intellectually and morally.
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan had a theme, as well as a series of action sequences – getting old, coping with death; Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock dealt with sacrifice, friendship and hubris. This is Trek at its best and it’s the reason why both those movies are superior to Abram’s film. All the elements are in his favour. He has the actors, their characters are established and they’re together and ready to have adventures. Now the crew must be set on a course that explores their characters more fully, providing a cerebral workout for the audience. Star Trek is about ideas or it is nothing. That’s what sets it apart from other shows. Abrams won’t want to scare off the newbies who drove the first film’s box office but the rest of us are still here and we expect our heads as well as our hearts to be fully engaged.
A Magnificent Score
You won’t believe this but I can actually remember some cues from Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek score, but then I saw it three times. It wasn’t bad, he tried hard, but those of us that have long since argued that the orchestral score is in decline, with the composers of yesteryear who made it all look so effortless conspiring to make their modern counterparts look very ordinary, found a case study in the reboot’s generic choral and string support. Great scores add texture and scope to the world of the film, offsetting practical handicaps like budget.
The Wrath of Khan cost a mere $18m but James Horner added another $90m worth of pathos, energy and awe in his movie debut. The greats of the original series movies, the likes of Horner and Rosenman, elevated their pictures to the point of enchantment. I don’t want to just see a great sequel, I want to be charmed by its soundtrack too. A movie that doesn’t possess a magnificent score, particularly a space opera like Star Trek, is missing a critical component that no amount of kinetic camerawork and beautiful vistas can cover.
If you’re reading JJ, hire someone who’s up to it. That’s not Horner anymore, he lost it sometime in the late nineties when self-plagiarism and a lack of hunger started to dilute his sound, and it isn’t Williams, whose efforts since the early nineties have shown a heartbreaking downward trajectory, but surely there’s some new blood out there, someone like the young James Horner, who wants to prove himself on a big canvas and wants to break our hearts and buttress our brains with an orchestral effort designed to court an Oscar nomination? Jerry Goldsmith was nominated for his Star Trek: The Motion Picture score y’know. This isn’t a fanciful dream.
Visual Effects To Equal The First Film
We’re so accustomed to computer generated effects being rushed and therefore imperfect and conspicuous, that a movie where the craft is displayed to its fullest potential, deserving of the epithet ‘superb’, is a beautiful thing indeed. A delayed release for the 2009 movie, allowed Industrial Light and Magic more time than they’re accustomed to, to turn in their best work and the result was a movie that looked fantastic, boasting a series of flawless effects sequences that were majestic in their scale; furious masturbation for the eyes.
Cruelly robbed, if you ask OWF, and you didn’t, by the more obvious but possibly less deserving Avatar on Oscar night, any sequel that failed to replicate that standard, maybe even advancing the visuals to new heights, would look very backward indeed. ILM showed young pretenders like WETA and Digital Domain how it was done in the first film. We expect nothing less second time around.
Fewer Jokes For The Kids
Trekkies were delighted to have their franchise back in whatever form, so we were forgiving of some of the reboot’s shall we say, broader moments, but these are not to be repeated. No Cartman impressions from Kirk please, no jokes about swollen body parts, or cheap laughs mined from swear words. This is Star Trek not Star Wars for God’s sake, and as such we expect wit, not gags aimed at the under fives.
The case study for Abrams and company is the 1986 blockbuster, The Voyage Home, a movie that reached out beyond Trek’s core audience with its humour and a plot friendly to the uninitiated. However, because this is Star Trek, the writers and producers didn’t lose sight of what was important. The film has an intelligent ecological message, an important moral; there were nice character moments and the jokes, of which there were many, were well judged and sharp. If humour is to feature in the sequel, and it would be keeping in the tradition of old if it did on some level, then it must be worthy of the name. A general audience doesn’t mean dumbing down. If you’re planning to do that, fine, we can’t stop you, just don’t call it Star Trek.
And While We’re At It…
Four words: Lens flare and shockwaves. The look of the first film was excellent, and though it may have perturbed some, some of us enjoyed Abrams attempts at making shots look more dynamic with cinematographic excess. Keep it moving, as before (pausing where appropriate), and flare us up. I like it. Just one thing, can we have some shockwaves? I’m a fan. Sure, things may explode, that’s fine, but if they do, a) bring back the antimatter explosion effect used in Star Trek 3, as that’s rather good, and b) add a shockwave effect. There’s no point to it but it looks cool and there’s nothing wrong with that. Look, I didn’t say I was deep, alright?
The as yet untitled Star Trek sequel is provisionally slated for June 2012 and should contain all of the above. If it doesn’t they’ll be hell to pay.
This article was first posted on June 11, 2011