If watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blu-ray has taught me anything it’s just how unique the tone of Star Trek is. Despite the visual and storytelling differences, the Original Series and Next Gen just have that same feeling. That same sense of adventure. The same thirst for exploration. The same unsubtle portrayal of current social issues in a future setting. It has also reminded me that the latest two Star Trek films have been missing that feeling. It should have been easy for them. They have same characters as the Original Series and the first 6 movies and yet the nostalgia just wasn’t there. I’m a fan of the 2009 reboot and its sequel and I’ll admit they were missing that special something. With Star Trek 3 (or Star Trek 13 to be precise) coming out next year to mark the 50th anniversary of the franchise let’s take a look at how they can make Star Trek feel like Star Trek again.
Star Trek Into Darkness just wasn’t fun. It looked and sounded great but it was a bit too grim. That’s not its biggest issue but it certainly was one of them. Star Trek needs to be fun, and dare I say it, a little camp as well. That’s not to say that Trek hasn’t been dark before; episodes like Chain of Command come to mind, however the best of Trek is fun and joyfully silly. That’s what Into Darkness got wrong. There was too much, well, darkness. Simon Pegg as Scotty was the only saving grace in this aspect and with him writing the next entry in the movie series hopefully he keeps hold of that sense of fun.
Not an action movie
Another problem with Into Darkness was that it was an action film, pure and simple. Where were the great science-fiction ideas? Well there weren’t any. No new ones anyway. Star Trek has had some great action sequences in the past but it was never just orientated towards them like Into Darkness seemed to be. Paramount is aiming for mass market appeal and apparently that means throwing out the sci-fi ideas and blowing up as many things as they can. Sadly with Star Trek Beyond being helmed by Justin Lin, director of Fast and Furious 3-6, it seems the emphasis on action is here to stay.
Cherry pick from the lore but don’t overuse
Looking back it seems that I’ve been moaning about Into Darkness and it’s at this point I have to say, overall, I do like the film. Right then, now back to picking apart the worst parts of Into Darkness. Khan!!! That famous moment from Wrath of Khan has now been undercut for all time by the use of imagery/ plot points from that film in Into Darkness. I don’t know how they ever thought they could pull off doing Khan but they tried and they failed and so hopefully they won’t try anything like it again. The end of 2009 reboot was just that: a reboot. It promised all new directions for Trek and yet Into Darkness squandered that opportunity. Thankfully it ended with the promise of some new directions with the start of the five year mission so fingers crossed for Star Trek Beyond. That’s not to say some small easter eggs and plot points from early Trek wouldn’t be cool but it has to be very minor and please fans rather than just piss them off. For example Into Darkness had a cool little mention of Harry Mudd and the inclusion of a tribble, although they royally cocked that up when they decided to inject it with Khan’s magical blood for some reason. They need to cherry pick from the vast amounts of lore but not overuse it. It doesn’t even have to be lore from the Original series and movies. Why not lob a Ferengi in there for good measure.
Use the whole cast
Into Darkness felt like it left out several characters from the plot altogether. Bones only got one small abstract metaphor, Uhura was briefly seen having relationship trouble with Spock (a sub-plot I really don’t like) and Chekhov was asked to wear a red shirt but nothing else. Meanwhile JJ Abrams’ good friend Simon Pegg had a lot to do as Scotty with his cabbage faced friend. Hopefully Star Trek Beyond will have the ensemble cast having lots to do rather than it all being Kirk, Spock and Scotty featuring cameos from the others.
Back to prime canon
While I’m not against the reboot and therefore the new canon and I think new and interesting stories can be told within it but wouldn’t it be cool if we could get back to prime canon. Keep the movies within the new canon but return to the prime canon on television. Having the TV show and movies in different canon may be confusing for the more casual watcher and that’s why it’s better to not have something completely new on TV. Give people something they already know as being different to the reboot. Bring back The Next Generation. Just imagine it. With so many 90’s shows returning like The X Files and Twin Peaks, it would make perfect sense to bring back Next Gen. Imagine if Netflix brought it back as a mini-series. People know the characters as being different than those in the new films and having it take place in a different period of Trek history would help differentiate it in the eyes of the casual viewer.
What do you want to see from the future of Star Trek? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook/Twitter @kylebrrtt. Like, Subscribe and why not have a look at all the awesome stuff on the site. Come back next week for another dose of First Time writing.