Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

Trek Tuesday: The Future Begins

By the mid-2000s, the Star Trek franchise fell from popularity.  Many were predicting the franchise would be resting for a long, long time.  Then, in 2006, it was quite the surprise when Paramount announced that JJ Abrams (of Lost fame) was tasked with essentially rebooting the series with a new big-budget tent-pole movie.

star trek 09

Simply titled Star Trek, Abrams delivered on his promise to make Star Trek cool again.  With great critical acclaim, this film was also the most profitable Trek film ever (even after adjusting for inflation).  It was a proven success by pleasing Trekkers and casual movie-goers alike.  But, big box-office winners also include things like Transformers and Twilight.  Did Star Trek deserve its success?

The answer is “yes”.  It gives you everything one could possibly want from a Star Trek movie: action, adventure, humor, romance, etc.  Granted, it does not delve much into any allegory or philosophical issues Star Trek is known for.  But, you know what?  Most of the Trek episodes out there do not either.  Most, like this movie, were straight-up adventures.

Truth of the matter is that it had to be.  A mainstream film cannot speak to a niche audience if it wants to be successful.  It just can’t.  Star Trek Nemesis somewhat proved that point.  Abrams did what was needed to make Trek viable as a success again for today’s audiences.  It worked.  And since it did, he can maybe bring back that allegorical stuff in a follow-up.

Now, not everything works.  There is a lot of convenience in the storytelling and some very questionable story choices.  For example, Kirk (Chris Pine) going from a cadet to captain in less than a week took me out of the movie for a bit.  The biggest issue I had with the movie is that it forces itself (and it is forced) to make a connection with everything that came before.  It is a completely unneeded bone to the angry fanboy crowd.  The movie would have been stronger without it (and less convoluted).  Honestly, though, all of these are just little things and not deal breakers in the least.

Star Trek was a success no matter how you cut it.  It did the job it set out to do by making Star Trek cool again and introducing it to a whole new generation.  Why would any Star Trek fan be against that?

~N

Edited to add: Be sure to check out our commentary track for Star Trek!

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12 responses to “Trek Tuesday: The Future Begins

  1. CultureCast-Z May 14, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Like you, I think very highly of this film. Like you, I also agree that they didn’t need to throw a bone to the hardcore Trek fanboys whatsoever, as those insane people are going to be impossible to please in any circumstance.

  2. JD May 15, 2013 at 9:41 am

    The only issue I have as a star trek fan is that I don’t think Star Trek Nemesis is a good example of a film trying to speak to a niche audience. Nemesis was probably the worst bastardization of star trek before JJ Abrams turned the series into generic extreme space action movies. I don’t know if a star trek film made for star trek fans could be near as successful as say JJ Abrams Star Trek but as a fan I’d rather see star trek stay dead than see it rebooted if they7 are going to strip away everything that Star Trek was about. If Star Trek 09 was the first star trek movie and the show didn’t exist I’d probably like it quite a bit but it’s really hard to ignore my love of star trek and what my conceptions of star trek are so I didn’t really like Star Trek 09 and I have no interest in seeing any of the sequels.
    At first I was pretty upset that JJ Abrams is making the new star wars movies too but I guess there are worse directors. The difference there is that Abrams talents could be better suited for star wars as star wars isn’t as cerebral as Star Trek. To be fair both franchises were bastardized before Abrams got to the party but I’d rather see both franchises fade out then live on as soulless watered down cash cows for the masses. At least Star Wars was supposed to be for mainstream audiences from the beginning so it’s not as different as Abrams transformation of Star Trek.

    • Nick! May 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      While this movie may not have clicked with you, your critisms that it isn’t Star Trek are disingenuous.

      You say you have no interest in seeing any of the sequels, yet you claim that the new series are just generic space action films. You are making broad generalizations. Trek ’09 is just as much of a generic action film as “Wrath of Khan” was. If anything, this film really captures that adventuring spirit that the original series had better than any other TOS Trek film.

      Personally, I don’t see them stripping away anything that Trek was about. Sure, they don’t go into the “allegorical temporary issues” the way Trek is given too much credit for doing. But, who says that won’t happen in the next installment? Just because they didn’t do it once, doesn’t mean they will never do it. Besides only two of the 11 movies actually did this.

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