Random Thoughts – Randocity!

J.J. Abrams Star Trek: Pure Fantasy

Posted in movies by commorancy on May 10, 2009

While I could start this blog off by discussing how the acting was excellent, how the characters worked well, or even how the origins of the characters worked. I won’t. I could also discuss the amazing special effects, the tense moments that keep you on the edge of your seat or the thrill ride pacing of this J.J. Abrams romp. Again, I won’t. Clearly, Abrams has made all of that (and more) work in this film. But, there is still one major flaw that nags at me. What is that, you ask? I’m so glad you asked. Let’s explore.

Starting a new Trek era

Crafting stories around temporal anomalies that change future events and unfold the entire Star Trek universe differently from the way all of the other franchises have unfolded the Star Trek universe is just not proper. Is rewriting the entire franchise in Star Trek’s best interest? Does putting forth alternate timelines as ‘the’ new Star Trek timeline make sense for this franchise? Clearly, it needs invigoration, yes. Using temporal anomalies? No. For me, this type of story is a complete cop-out. It is not creative, it is only a way to make it appear creative when its sole goal is just a way for Abram’s to take creative liberties with the characters, universe, series and, yes, even the franchise itself. So, now Abrams can rewrite the Star Trek universe in any way he sees fit. This one anomaly lets Abrams write whatever he wants. For this reason alone, this goes against the grain of everything Gene Roddenberry had inspired in Star Trek.

By rewriting the timeline (and, arguably, the very franchise itself), J.J. Abrams could put an end to the ‘Prime Directive’, rewrite rules, change events, kill characters off at will, etc. He could take the series in a more militaristic direction and entirely do away with what originally insipired Gene Roddenberry. This storyline opens the door to making a lot of changes to the Star Trek universe by giving Abrans complete liberty over the entire series and, indeed, the entire franchise.

At a fundamental level, this movie works as a standalone. As a basis for the beginning of a new Star Trek series and, in fact, franchise is just wrong on so many levels. Temporal anomalies have no place in the creation, let alone re-creation, of the series. As of now, the entire timeline is left hanging at the end of this movie with no resolution. So, it is up to Abrams and Paramount at this point. Clearly, the success of this film will guide Star Trek’s future. If the success of this film is high, then Paramount may actually let Abrams continue down this pretentious road creating more Fantasy Trek.

Gene Roddenberry created this series in a certain way. Unfortunately, Abrams’ vision does not hold true to that ideal.  There are plenty of ways to craft creative, thoughtful, evocotive story lines to make a film work.

Unfortunately, there are two story writing techniques that are always considered trite and even ‘deus ex machina’ and should be avoided at all costs (one was used in this film):

  • The main character wakes up at the end revealing the entire film as a dream sequence
  • Temporal anomalies that allow the writer to take liberties by altering a character’s timeline or by rewriting the underlying story itself

End of Roddenbery Trek Era

As of the recent passing of Majel Barret Roddenberry, this signals the end of Trek as we knew it. Rod Roddenberry (Gene’s Son) is still around, yes. However, it certainly appears that he either has no creative control over Trek or he is letting Abrams take these liberties with Star Trek. Either way, this film signals the end to the Roddenberry created Trek universe and a new non-Roddenberry beginning that has no basis in Roddenberry’s original vision.

All films, video games, events, series or any other creative derivatives from Abram’s Trek has nothing to do with Gene’s Trek. It is a ‘Fantasy Trek’, if you will. A ‘what if’ approach to Trek. This Abrams Trek is a derivative work and is not and should not be considered part of the Gene Star Trek Canon. In fact, this new Trek never existed. Abram’s Trek didn’t (and doesn’t) exist because this film’s anomaly created an entirely new timeline for Kirk, Spock, Uhura and the rest. A timeline that never existed before Abrams took the helm. Yes, Abrams has clearly created a timeline that isn’t Trek.

On the one hand, it’s a brilliant idea for Canon. Meaning, it marks the perfect delineation between Roddenberry’s works and Abrams’ works. So, Abrams has made it extremely easy to mark anything based on Abrams ‘rethink’ as fantasy (never existed).

Fantasy Trek

So, Abrams Star Trek universe never existed. It existed only because of the temporal anomaly. And now, Ambassador Spock (Roddenberry’s Spock) is trapped in that timeline….in a timeline that never existed or that never should have existed. So, technically, the only person who really makes a difference in Abrams’ universe is Ambassador Spock. And the only goal in Abrams’ Fantasy Trek should be at getting Ambassador Spock back to the ‘real’ Trek universe’s present and correct the timeline.

The series can take one of two approaches at this point. 1) To continue on with this Fantasy Trek universe exploring Abrams’ fake Trek universe. Granted, this might be fun to explore for a while. but ultimately… 2) To focus on getting Ambassador Spock back to the Roddenberry created universe and get the timelines corrected.

So, I would be fine with an approach where Abrams’ actually acknowledges his newly created Trek timeline as false and then later unfolds events such that the sole goal is to get Ambassador Spock back to Roddenberry’s universe. That, for me, should be the only goal in this new fantasy romp.  There is really no other direction that this can take. If Abrams and, indeed, Paramount actually try to foist this Fantasy Trek off on the Star Trek fans as the ‘new’ canon would be insulting on so many levels. It would also be insulting to the original Trek series, to Gene and Majel Roddenberry and to everything of previous Trek lore.

To actually consider foisting Abrams’ Fantasy Trek on the fans as the ‘new’ canon invalidates Gene’s Star Trek entirely. It nullifies previous Trek series and canon by saying that it never existed in that way. It says that the Abrams’ Trek is the way things are and it says that Roddenberry’s Trek was fantasy. How can anyone possibly be that pretentious with storytelling? No. The only direction is to acknowledge this Trek as pure fantasy and move forward from there. Otherwise, this alternate time line could completely change events that lead up to the creation of Star Trek: TOS, TNG, DS9 and Voyager… let alone the previous films. No, Abrams must acknowledge this timeline is incorrect and set out to correct it and get Ambassador Spock back to his present.

Both Abrams and Paramount need to be extremely careful at the handling of this series from this point so as to not insult Trek (or the fans’ intelligence or knowledge of Trek).


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