This week’s Entertainment Weekly has a feature article on J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek reboot. The article goes in-depth, FINALLY revealing some choice details about Star Trek’s plot, plot-twists, characters and even a cameo from an all-too-familiar face.
Better yet, the article delves into the question of how Abrams and Co. plan to reinvent Star Trek from the arcane nerd religion it is now, into a multi-million-earning, pop-culture smash–a question people like myself need answered before we hand over our hard-earned cash to see the Enterprise’s latest voyage.
Let me be up front by saying: I am not a Star Trek hater. I was born in 1981–too late to have been a fan of the original 60’s series; just in time for my father to force-feed me syndicated portions of Star Trek: The Next Generation along with dinner every night, back in the mid 90’s.
Admittedly, if not for my father’s fascist hold on the remote during dinner, I probably would’ve never watched a single Next Generation episode in entirety. Regardless, the series made enough of an impression for me to go back and watch all four films about the original Enterprise crew released up to that point (thank you Prism for replaying The Wrath of Khan ad nauseum); the two Kirk and Co. films they released thereafter; and all four of the Next Generation films released between 1994 and 2002. (That makes ten Stark Trek films in total, if you’re keeping count.) So while I might not qualify as an official “Trekkie,” I’m no stranger to the Trek universe.
However, my perspective is not the perspective of your average moviegoer. We live in a time when bringing up the original Transformers or G.I. Joe cartoons in a room full of teenagers will likely earn you blank stares and awkward silence. So trying to introduce the notion that there was ever a Star Trek before the bald guy in wheelchair from X-Men was in it… Well, you might as well explain it in Arabic. Add to that historical hurdle the mathematical reality that Abrams’ $150 million reboot is going to have perform on a global scale to turn a suitable profit… and, well, you begin to see how steep a hill to success Star Trek will have to climb.
So, is Captain Abrams steering his ship in the right direction? As always, the genre-defying director/producer is optimistic:
”I think a movie that shows people of various races working together and surviving hundreds of years from now is not a bad message to put out right now,” says Abrams…”In a world where a movie as incredibly produced as The Dark Knight is raking in gazillions of dollars, Star Trek stands in stark contrast…It was important to me that optimism be cool again.”
To further that end, Abrams’ Stark Trek is getting a sleek makeover to go along with its optimism resurgence. Just Picture the U.S.S. Enterprise re-imagined for the Ipod generation:
The Enterprise still has a saucer front section and pronged rear engines, but now comes tricked out with credibility-enhancing details. During turbulence, the crew can now grab handrails to keep from falling. And Abrams has given the blah cardboard bridge a makeover. It still has the oval shape, the captain’s chair, the giant view screen — but it’s now blazingly white and glistening with light and glass. Apple Store, anyone? ”People would joke, ‘Where’s the Genius Bar?”’ says Abrams, somewhat defensively. ”To me, the bridge is so cool, it makes the Apple Store look uncool.”
Another big change will be the phasers: where once they looked like electric razors with fancy light effects, the new phaser design is that of “silver gizmos with spring-triggered barrels that revolve and glow in the transition from ”stun” to ”kill.”
That’s all cool, if you’re a sci-fi enthusiast who likes to scrutinize every single working component of the far-fetched tech the genre is known for, but what about those who have no idea what a “phaser” is; who have no frame of context whatsoever for the phrase, “Beam me up?” For Abrams, the trick of getting Star Trek to appeal to a wider circle of moviegoers involved infusing the series with a bit of stylistic life’s blood from another hallowed sci-fi series:
‘All my smart friends liked Star Trek,” [Abrams] says. ”I preferred a more visceral experience…that grabbed me the way Star Wars did.” That meant a bigger budget and better special effects than any previous Trek film, plus freedom to reinvent the mythos as needed.
”The movie,” Lindelof says, ”is about the act of changing what you know.”