Welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley, and since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the BT underway.
Sorry it has been so long since my last post, I had Army Reserve drill last weekend and that tends to eat a lot of time. I know it’s no excuse; there is never a good excuse, only the truth. And my first duty here is to the truth.
"The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, whether it's scientific truth or historical truth or personal truth! It is the guiding principle on which Starfleet is based! And if you can't find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth about what happened, you don't deserve to wear that uniform!"
Sorry, I channeled Jean-Luc Picard from one of my top five favorite TNG episodes. It happens.
So, last time we met here in the dining car explained how I came to embrace and accept the geek I am, and that I am not only happy with the person I am, but I have met some truly amazing people who share the same passions and humor.
But there was a polarizing event less than two years ago, and for the geek community there is still a divide that can run deep and sometimes lead to actual yelling. I saw it. When I’ve seen it I have to admit, it’s kind of made me sad to see.
What was the Fort Sumter of Trek? The 2009 release of JJ Abrams “Star Trek.”
Because the story evolves in an alternate timeline from the Kirk, Spock and McCoy we grew up with (Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley), some fans call it nuTrek. Others call is “Abramsverse.” But one thing many agree upon calling it is…well, there are a lot of less than flattering words they use. I am not in that group, and I have taken some heat for it. But let me explain where I’m coming from, and then we can discuss.
I first heard about nuTrek while in Iraq, when I saw the teaser trailer on Trekmovie.com. I was SO excited, the Soldiers I was with can attest that I became obsessed with checking out about the film. See I have bad luck with movies and deployment.
See, “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” both were released while I was in Iraq, so was “Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith.” Ok, so the last one didn’t break me up too much, but still….
Finally after 24 months I was headed home and nuTrek was opening in theaters THE NEXT DAY! I made plans to see it (by myself…my wife has zero interest in sci-fi and made it a point to explain to me how very little she wanted to sit in a theater for a Star Trek movie) and was through the roof.
The movie started. I was not bothered by lens flares. I really liked the look of the film in fact. One of the big things I was worried about was would I be so jet-lagged after flying home 8,000 miles that even if this thing was “The Godfather” in Star Trek form, I’d fall asleep. It was not even close to happening.
After I left the theater I went home, my wife asked how it was. I had to think about it and said the most honest thing I could, “I don’t know.”
See, I liked a lot about the film, truly. There were things I didn’t like. Then there were things I just wish…weren’t. I mean, destroying Vulcan????
(And if that’s a spoiler for you, I am so not saying sorry. It’s been on DVD for how long now?)
But in keeping with IDIC, I accepted the film and was happy it was out. I know that for some, me saying that is like saying to them that Superman is a pussy, and I’d rather have….Aquaman…help me fight crime.
Superman is such a tool...I mean, look at this:
Superman is such a tool...I mean, look at this:
Enough said about that.
But back to the topic: Why? Why the outright open hostility some show towards nuTrek? I get picking the story, or some of the set designs. But we’re talking hard core MSNBC toward Ronald Reagan fans hatred I have seen.
I get it, by rebooting and having beloved, classic characters (and yes, I do have a blog planned how Star Trek is the modern mythology) played by new actors and changing the back-story, it shakes some people’s worlds. I get that. But the thing is – none of it is real anyway, so maybe I am being a heretic saying this, but I am along to enjoy stories that make me think and bring me some escape.
I have talked to people who literally could not say a good thing about nuTrek. That’s silly, and if I may, a tad hardheaded.
Here are five things about nuTrek I enjoyed:
5 – It was a Trek that was filmed for the BIG screen. People can have issues with lens flares and such, but this was a Trek deserving of the theater experience. I mean really, was “Insurrection” anything more than a TNG episode an hour longer?
4 – The music was amazing, and when the classic theme hit at the end (and I loved that, as if the nuCrew had earned it), I got goose bumps.
3 – The “origin” story. Look, maybe it’s not what I would have written, or you. But it IS the story of how the “original” crew met, something fans wanted for years. I admire them for tackling it.
2 - Chris Pine was outstanding in the role of James T. Kirk. He didn’t do a Shatner, he made it his own. Plus, let’s face it, he has the look.
1 – Not only was Capt. Christopher Pike in the film, but Bruce Greenwood owned ever scene he was in. He had a depth and charisma rarely seen in any Trek.
Now, five things I didn’t care for so much:
5 – Scotty as comic relief really bugged me. A lot. I am a Simon Pegg mark, and really felt let down by this characterization.
4 – The engine room. I think that says enough about that.
3 – Nero. That was not the epic villain we needed. We needed a Khan. Hell, I would have settled for a Harry Mudd.
2 – Spock/Uhura romance. Look, I am not opposed to it, it just….came out of nowhere. And if anything in the film deserved at least a sentence of explanation, this was it.
1 – Vulcan destroyed. Vulcan. Destroyed. VULCAN. DESTROYED! No matter how many times I say or write it, I get mad.
So I admit, there’s some big problems with the film. But for long-time Trekkies (or Trekkers, no diff to me) to bash the film is short sighted, and does not take into account something nuTrek opens for us.
Yeah, ironic huh?
See, we grew up in a world with just TOS (TAS was so no easy to find) and the books. Then there was TNG, changing everything.
Then the flood hit, we had DS9 (the most underappreciated Trek, and the best), Voyager (UGH in so many ways) and Enterprise (sadly, once they got their shit together it was cancelled). We had the TOS films, the TNG films…I think Rick Berman was right, we reached saturation.
Then we had a break and nuTrek came out. And you know what I noticed last year at my visit to Shore Leave? A lot of young people, teens and younger, wearing nuTrek uniforms while talking about the film and excited to learn more about Trek. They are excited about Star Trek! So what if it’s not the Trek we grew up with?
This is THEIRS. THEY are joining the family! Isn’t that a wonderful thing?
Look, I know nuTrek isn’t for everyone, I get it. But we have to look forward to get the next generation (no pun intended) to look back. Isn’t that what it’s about, passing this wonderful gift of Trek on to future generations?
Am I being naive?
I look forward to hearing thoughts on this topic.
Oh, if it is kind of disjointed I apologize, I am medicated at the moment and also working with a really crappy keyboard that has jumped all over the place while typing.
Thanks for reading. And as always, thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for your future travels.