Monday, May 18, 2009

5-18-09 Characters with Character

This past weekend The Husband and I worked our respective tails off cleaning and running errands. Saturday and Sunday nights we were able to partake in quiet evenings in our recently painted living room and enjoyed a couple of DVDs. We purchased a blu-ray player not too long ago and we love how great our standard DVDs look when played by it.

Since it had been a long time since I had seen it in its entirety we watched The Wrath of Khan on Saturday night. I always remember that it's an enjoyable movie, but I keep forgetting how enjoyable. There's action, there's suspense, there's larger than life characters in a battle of wills and skill.

On Sunday we watched The Undiscovered Country. Every time I see this movie, it creeps up my list of favorites. It's ALMOST a perfect Trek film. (The forced scene at the end is just painful, but it was the last curtain for the cast as an ensemble really, but still...oof, it's hard to take because it's so frickin cheesy.) But again it's got action, it's got intrigue and a few laughs.

These two films also had a few others things that the new film just seemed to be missing. An interesting plot, meaningful and dramatic dialogue and, sigh...a message about revenge and hate that just seemed to flow better than any supposed message from Abrams new film.

Don't get me wrong, several people have told me that they got a message about....*thinks about what they said*...oh yeah - that change is inevitable and that sometimes change sucks and that there's nothing you can do to stop change and that you just have to life with it.

That was the message from Abrams' Trek? Really?


Well as honest as that message may could that be the positive message that Trek is supposed to be about?

Khan was the representation of why revenge is, at its core, fruitless. Once revenge is achieved you still die. Undiscovered Country was about the futility of prejudice and the power of forgiveness and CHANGE. But not about how hopeless change is, but how to make any change into a positive one.

In the new Trek film - their universe is forever altered. Vulcan is gone in the "Alternative Timeline" and Romulus (and presumably Remus) have been destroyed in the "Prime Timeline." Yes change is inevitable...but what did Nero's death in the movie do to teach anyone that lesson? What did Kirk learn about that change that showed there was any hope for him to be a better person - that if you cheat, yell and "take control" you can take advantage of the situation to your own benefit? What did Spock learn? He lost the majority of his SPECIES. He lost his position and rank on the ship. He lost his mother. How unfathomable is that to any of us? And the lesson he learns is...tough it out, your friendship with the manipulative cheater might pay off by the time he dies?

*holds hands up in surrender.* Sorry. I'm just not as thrilled with STXI's "message" as a lot of other people seem to be. To me, it's not a very hopeful message and it leaves me to wonder if the younger generation really is that apathetic about their own future.

Trek used to be very family friendly. I started watching Trek when I was THREE. My uncle used to comfort me when the "monsters" showed up, but eventually I got through the shows because I was learning something - something I still know - that humanity is capable of achieving great things, even peace amongst ourselves. That we have the capability of becoming the teachers of those lessons to other species when we come across them. I learned never to sell the species' potential short.

But now Trek has been elevated in sex and violence to the point bringing children to a Trek film isn't advisable. My nephew is coming to visit this weekend. He's three and a half. He's bloody brilliant. The thought that even when he's five or seven he still won't be old enough to see Trek in a theatre saddens me.

Yes, change IS inevitable but it's how we deal with that change that's important.

In Undiscovered Country, Kirk got his own prejudices and preconceptions thrown back in his face. HE learned the lesson that generalizations and racism are forms of ignorance and hate. He learned that it was HE who was one who was afraid, and through him we as an audience learned those lessons too. I didn't see the new Kirk learn any type of real self-improvement in the new movie. He was always cocky, he cheated, he manipulated and he got rewarded for it. I don't want my nephew to think that's how to get ahead in life. I want my nephew to be taught that character counts.

And in my opinion, it's character that seems be missing in the new Kirk.

Abrams' and his writers have made a movie that focuses on the special effects and the 90210ishness of the new crew. They're going to make a mint no doubt. Good for Viacom shareholders - I'm happy for you. But as hard as I try to see their supposed positive message...I'm sorry everyone...they surgically removed Trek's heart from the script - along with Vulcan, Romulus and Remus.

Call me any name in the book (Universe knows I've already been told I'm a talky geek, a phloxhead and a cultist) I don't care. I prefer well-told stories; stories that give rise to their action sequences organically through the tale, not stories that are created in an effort to get the cool shot on the screen. It's backwards writing and is what, IMHO, gave rise to the implausible plot details that STXI was full of.

TWOK and TUC are simply better Trek films. They're simply better stories that have simply better characters...characters with character.

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