There is no golf in science fiction that I know of. This doesn’t keep me from enjoying science fiction immensely. The new Star Trek movie is coming out and looks to be a huge bangup. Among Star Trek fans, there are two factions. Those who prefer Big Action are offered up episodes and movies involving wars with Klingons, Borgs, and Khan, and even thrown a planet eating monster that looks like a giant doobie. Those who prefer Big Ideas are given time travel stories (including one involving a sarcastic, cloacal time portal), moral dilemma recapitulating the issues of the 20th century, and anything involving empaths (people who can sense the emotional state of others -WTF!???!?!?). Then you have tribbles and fembots.
JJ Adams takes a turn at the old wheel, coming off his Cloverfield and Lost successes, and the preview shows a definite red state Big Action tilt. You see a mavericky kid and young adult Kirk speeding along in various fossil-fueled vehicles. The bi-specied Spock is seen trying to bludgeon a crewmate in this preview. (J’ever notice that Obama may actually have some Vulcan in him as well?). And that’s the thing, when the quintessential blue stater Spock is kii-yaa-ing and hacking at people, you know where the movie is going.
The Star Trek vehicle needs reinvigoration after spending many years in the Big Idea doldrums. I tried watching the first season of Enterprise but just couldn’t get over the show being stupefyingly boring. Reimaginations of “classic” shows inevitably have to incorporate the mood and tempo of the contemporary audiences.The remade Battlestar Galactica is the greatest television show ever, and you should have heard the shrieking about Starbuck being a girl in certain geek quarters. The best science fiction balances the Big Ideas with Big Action. Ridley Scott is a master of this with Blade Runner and Alien.
There are elements of homage in the preview. There is a Dreadnought class starship getting blown up -this is a reference from the Star Fleet technical manual. This kind of detail shows that JJ Adams and the writers are shockingly incredible Trek geeks. This would seem to me that they took their custodial duties with regard to the Star Trek canon seriously. Or it may just be a random teaser designed to draw in the middle aged Trekkies along with all the teens and twenty somethings who know nothing about Trek. I’m holding judgement and praying it’s not Star Trek Kids.
Addendum: The ship in the HD preview (much clearer) is clearly not a Dreadnought, but rather a some kind of modification of either the Scout or Destroyer Class starship called the USS Kelvin with a topside crew/engineering pod in the picture shown from the back below:
Addendum: Prequel is available on iTunes as an iPhone App. Engaging comic book about the Romulan Apocalypse and time travel. Time travel is the sci fi equivalent of the dream sequence -it’s usually a sign of unimaginative thinking. It does allow for drastic changes to canon -after all -we are on another time line. The linearity of the timeline is something established by HG Wells, who avoided the going back in time to blow up your parents conundrum. The Planet of the Apes movies dealt with a non-linear timeline, and most recently, The Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles basically acknowledges that there is a fifth dimension -a history of time -meaning that linear views of history and causality can change so that the totality and end results are different over time. Kind of like seeing a full circle on the kaleidoscope rather than just a ray on the kaleidoscope. In this kind of world, there is no canon and JJ Adams can do what he wants. This is far more pleasing than the stupid negative universe where everything is opposite.
Addendum 5/14/2009: I saw it last weekend, took my seven year old and wife on Mother’s Day. The movie knocked my socks off. Everything makes intrinsic sense now. They needed to fluff up the old shaggy franchise, and they hit it out of the park. It was very entertaining. Iowa is elevated to the status of planet with cut scenes between Vulcan and Iowa. Also, it is clear to me that the canyon seen in the trailer is in fact a quarry used to deliver matter to be transformed Trek-style into starship plating. The Enterprise is made of Iowa dirt! Watching the movie in a theater in Des Moines was very special. My son who had been watching classic trek on the iPod Touch now thinks Star Trek is almost as good as his Clone Wars.