My Photo

Categories

Roll Call

Become a Fan

« How to structure a paragraph with a hamburger. | Main | Fringe and Star Trek and now it all makes sense. »

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c2df453ef01156f8d1d62970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "By God, Jim, it's a giant red ball of . . .:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Feminist Avatar

I thought the alternative universe device was to allow all the old fans to stop worrying about whether or not it fit in with the larger story arch of Star Trek and to allow them to just enjoy the damn film.

Timothy Burke

Hey! We care more about quality than continuity too. You're not gonna hang the scarlet letter N on me, man.

SEK

I thought the alternative universe device was to allow all the old fans to stop worrying about whether or not it fit in with the larger story arch of Star Trek and to allow them to just enjoy the damn film.

That too. (Although trying to please the diehards is, I think, a losing proposition from the get-go. There's no nit they won't pick and pick and pick and pick.)

We care more about quality than continuity too. You're not gonna hang the scarlet letter N on me, man.

NNNNNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRD! (But it takes one to know one.) Now that that's out of the way, I wasn't tarring you guys for discussing the continuity errors the reboot introduced so much as I was pointing out that I think the reboot ain't like Infinite Earth because the break was clean. There won't be any bleeding narrative wounds caused by this one.

Bill Benzon

What I think is "continuity be damned." The movie is a rollicking good yarn.

But I'm not sure what that's worth. Salon's Andrew O'Heir argues for the original series:


Even if some of its flaws look more glaring 30-odd years later, I think the original "Star Trek" still has a passion and vitality that partly stem from its cheapness; the threadbare sets and effects created a coherent, suggestive atmosphere, and forced your attention onto the storytelling and the characters. It stands out, even after all this time, as something unique in television history. Of course "Star Trek" can never be the cultural lodestone it once was. Having spawned four official follow-up series, 11 feature films (and counting) and countless non-canonical works -- if you haven't heard about K/S porn or the immense and disputatious fanfic universe, I'm not helping you -- and inspired an entire genre of serial intergalactic futurism from "Space: 1999" to "Babylon 5" to "Battlestar Galactica," the novelty of Gene Roddenberry's creation has pretty well worn off.

In the middle of the Cold War, Roddenberry imagined a radical-progressive, Enlightenment-fueled vision of the human future, one in which the conflict between capitalism and communism had been long transcended, along with other earthbound forms of racial, ethnic or religious strife. Strikingly, there is no religious or mystical dimension to the "Star Trek" universe at all, at least until much later in its development.

Bill Benzon

Writing in the NYTimes David Hadjou argues that TOS was designed to exploit existing back-lot sets:


“Star Trek” was shot for Desilu Productions, on the lot its founders, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, bought from RKO Radio Pictures, the prolific studio that had made “King Kong,” “Citizen Kane,” the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals and countless B pictures like “I Walked With a Zombie.” In time, the series moved to Paramount and if it seemed as though Kirk and his crew were venturing from old movie to old movie, Roddenberry and his crew were traveling literally from old-movie set to old-movie set.

“The majority of story premises ...can be accomplished on such common studio back lot locales and sets such as Early 1900 Street, Oriental Village, Cowtown, Border Fort, Victorian Drawing Room, Forest and Streamside,” wrote Roddenberry in his original pitch. “Interiors and exteriors temporarily available after an ‘Egyptian’ motion picture, a ‘horror’ epic, or even an unusual telefilm, could be used to meet the needs of a number of story premises.”

The creative re-use of studio sets may have begun as a way to keep costs down. But the show made a kind of loopy pastiche pulp art by appropriating, referencing and recombining ideas from film history, going imaginatively — and, yes, even boldly — where many had gone before.


Ideas and ideals vs. inexpensive production & recycling of cliches, which is it? It's not a fatal opposition; you can have both. But still, it's a different combo than big budget and space opera.

[Sorry about two posts. It's difficult to get the webnets to cooperate.]

j.s. nelson

I am more torn about the new Star Trek than any movie I have seen in a long time. I'm not a Star Trek nerd, I grew up watching TNG and rolling my eyes at how inescapably dorky it was, though of course I still watched it every week.

I felt like this movie took the things I didn't like about Star Trek and turned them into awesome things. All the dorkiness has been transmogrified* into coolness. The "reboot factor" wherein things we are used to are presented to us in a different form, is handled extremely well. As you say, the casting is perfect, the crew dynamic is great (if a little exaggerated) and the universe is right.

But I also felt like other than that, it was manifestly a stupid movie. The reboot factor makes it interesting to watch, and there's no shortage of action. But a lot of stupid action movie things happen. People are constantly hanging off cliffs. Explosions engulf starships for seconds before the starship bursts through. There are also just a lot of weird plot moments and goofy gimmicks. The whole "kirk has an alien virus" thing was silly and the sequence of events that led to him being on the ship and becoming captain felt a little to "put all our faith in this plucky kid" to me. A big bad monster is eaten by a bigger badder monster. Nimoy's narration was weird: "Something bad was going to happen so we tried to prevent it but then the unthinkable happened: the bad thing happened anyway." Scotty in the water tubes was an eyerolling gag. And also scotty shows up on the enterprise, having never seen the ship before, and is head of engineering like fifteen minutes later?
I think that much of the substance of the movie is how weird it is to see all these young folks playing Trek characters. What was done right was the setup that allows new and hopefully old Trek fans to get into the rebooted setting. I hear they're planning a sequel, I'm excited to see if they take it someplace that is less filled with action movie cliches.

* I want you all to know that firefox's spell check recognizes "transmogrified" but not "neuroscience".

Bill Benzon

Well of course they're working on a sequel. The ST franchise is a so-called black swan and they want to keep it flying.

j.s. nelson

Yeah, not surprising. Weird to have a Trek franchise start with the movies instead of a show though.

SEK

Bill,

I really, really find that bit about them recycling film sets interesting. There'd be a sort of built-in deja vu effect for those in the know, but that's not the best part: think about what's involved in creating a vision of utopian futures via the detritus of the sordid past, i.e. it's a literal reshaping of the whole of human history from ancient Egypt to the Old West. I'll need to think about that one some more.

J.S.,

But I also felt like other than that, it was manifestly a stupid movie. The reboot factor makes it interesting to watch, and there's no shortage of action. But a lot of stupid action movie things happen. People are constantly hanging off cliffs.

The wife and I had planned to see it in IMAX, but the projector had broken, and it's a good thing: this scared me witless, so I can only imagine what all those people whose cliff-hanging almost made me wet myself would've done on the IMAX. (shudders) But all the other stuff you listed was, well, silly . . . but it was done so well. The bloated hands/tongue gag was slapstick, but it was well-executed slapstick.

I think that much of the substance of the movie is how weird it is to see all these young folks playing Trek characters.

The ensemble cast pulled off bemused consternation so well you think they'd been working together for years, so I don't think it's simply a matter of seeing other people play Kirk and Spock. They seemed comfortable in their roles . . . with the exception of Bones in the middle of the film, which is odd: early was fine, late was fine, but the middle was a mess, which leads me to believe I can intuit something about the shooting schedule, but I probably shouldn't.

j.s.nelson

I'm a bit late on this one, but after seeing Star Trek again, I loved it.

The comments to this entry are closed.