Star Trek rebooted, now it’s Star Wars
As a fan and author of science fiction, I take my genre seriously as a wine snob would choosing which red to drink with dinner. Knowing what science fiction is and isn’t helps guide my hand in the craft. While in China, I met up with film producer/director Hal Dace. He took a break from working on his film, Miss Wisenheimer and the Aliens,to have a chat about JJ Abrams and Star Wars.
Back in 2010, Hal and I talked science fiction over beers and Hal produced a 55 point manifesto why JJ Abrams was the wrong guy to direct Star Trek 11 and 12. Although I enjoyed the movie immensely, I agreed with Hal on nearly all of his points. Hal want’s to see a Trek film, not a pastiche. We met again before Star Trek 12 opened and put together a Star Trek Purity test. Our pre-show opening Trek 12 predictions were:
Into Darkness will fail the first three checklist items and then come on strong for the next four, and finally Uhurah sings and Spock’ll do something Vulcan, putting the film at six out of eleven. This will allow the movie to be a great commercial success yet maintain most of the Trekkie fan base, thereby bringing fresh viewers into the Trek fold.
It’ll be Star Wars: nonstop action, no strategy, no thoughtful moments. I say the next film fails all of the tests. A complete ZERO.
We invited the internet community to take our pre-opening online poll and the results were: 40% thought that it’d get “-5″/11 (hopeless cynics!), 30% predicted 0 out of 11 (rational cynics), and single votes for: 11/11 (snort), 10/11, and 6/11 (that was Lancer).
What the movie actually got was…. :
Three out of ten (the Romulan’s weren’t part of the movie so we struck that question from the test.) The movie did a little worse than Lancer thought but better than Hal thought.
Regarding point one, Star Trek is about peace. Most if not all Star Treks are about great efforts and trade-offs to keep it.
I remember a TOS episode (A Private Little War) where the hill people who have only spears and bows, are defending themselves against those with flint-lock guns. And McCoy is pushing Jim to arm the hill people so they can fight back, and Jim wouldn’t do it because of the Prime Directive. But NuKirk is always in trouble with Star Fleet.
<Laughs> In fact, regarding point 8, the first thing that happens in the movie is that Kirk’s kicked out of Star Fleet.
Regarding point 10, I guess they didn’t use science to solve a problem. It was all about action and maneuvering.
It was contrived that Kirk saves the ship instead of Scotty.
But it setup a nice role reversal with Spock.
Agreed! That was nice but contrived that Kirk has engineering ability. They train you in real Navy that the engineer gives up his life to save the ship. It would have been Scotty’s idea and duty to go into that chamber. As it was, Scotty had given up saving the Enterprise and it was Jim that came up with the idea of going into the chamber.
In light of that, better to have found another way to work in the role reversal. For example, Kirk could’ve stopped Scotty (as done in the movie), but the dialog was wrong and needed changing so it was Scotty’s idea. And the scene of Kirk kicking that cathode (core alignment mechanism), had him doing it in mostly the wrong direction.
No matter what I or other Trekkies think the movies were a commercial success.
But Abrams has thrown Trekkies under the bus to do it.
Hey Fritz. That looks uncomfortable.
It’s a short term gain. Because he’s a weak story teller, his films will be forgotten unlike Star Trek #2, #4, #7, and #8.
But his films are better than the TNG movies. I hardly remember them.
Wrong! Even the worst TNG movie, #10, had something great in it and that was Data sacrificing his life to save the Enterprise and Earth. JJ Abrams will never have a moment that’s as great as the greatest moment in the worst TNG movie.
Abrams well suited to Star Wars?
In spring 2013, at another meetup in an English bar in China…
I hear Abrams got the job of directing Star Wars.
Both: You didn’t know that?!
JJ Abrams working on Star Wars is the best thing to happen to the Star Trek franchise!
I’ve got bad news for you. Paramount has chosen to keep going in the science fiction thriller direction with Trek. Star Trek Beyond (trailer) is being produced by Abrams and directed by Fast and Furious director Justin Lin.
Abrams style totally suits Star Wars. He might even fix the franchise. My argument will always be that Star Trek is completely different from Star Wars and that letting Abrams get his hands on Star Trek was always going to be a disaster!
But Disney… I can’t believe Lucas Films sold to them. What’s that going to do to Star Wars?
I think it’ll be better because Disney will get the best people to make the film, where Lucas was too nepotistic.
Well, OK. Abrams will get people who can act and hopefully writers who can make a script with great dialog.
Star Wars isn’t character driven so the actors are kinda stuck. There’s never a serious explanation as to why they’re acting this way.
Hence we get to the term “Space Opera.” As in Opera where acting isn’t primary but instead music and high drama play a major part in communicating story. Operatic stories need to be simpler than say a play or a “regular” movie. Star Wars derives emotion from what’s happening around them rather than coming from inside the individual. The stories come from top down “big picture” situations and how that impacts the individuals. To make this story telling work, it heavily leans on archetypes acting in the face of black and white situations like good versus evil. And to drive it along, pre-destiny, established by some off-screen agent plays a big part and overcomes individual choice. Instead of oracles, priests, and Gods fortelling (Illiad and the Odyssey), the language is “the Force,” the dark side, and visions. Luke Skywalker had little chance to avoid his destiny any more than Odysseus, Achilles, etc. So the actors hit the stage, queue symphony, and viewers and actors just accept these preconditions and the curtain raises.
JJ Abrams will be ideal. His lack of science in his Star Trek work will fit in with all the “banking spaceships” Star Wars nonsense.
Yeah, well I think sparkles shooting out of peoples mouths would be cool but I don’t want to see it in my science fiction.
Even Lucas doesn’t think Star Wars is science fiction. In the summer of 1977, 2 months into the huge success of Star Wars, he said that Star Wars isn’t science fiction, but is science fantasy.
I’m worried about Star Wars. Maybe next year there’ll be jedi and clones thrown under this bus. Or maybe it’ll probably work out. I’m excited to see what happens!
OK, here’s a poll to see what the rest of the world thinks.