My name is Charlie, but if your looking for my work, I go by C. E. Dorsett. I write scifi, fantasy, and a touch of horror. I like to play with gothic, steampunk, decopunk, epic fantasy, and wuxia. I love to tell stories and talk about books, movies, series, and music.
Review: Star Trek
I was a little afraid to see the new Star Trek Movie. All of the materials they sent me to hype the movie either bored or annoyed me. I started getting a little excited about the movie after the early screenings started returning good reviews. Sitting in the theater as boring trailers, my anticipation ramped up as film crept ever closer. I love Star Trek. It is probably my favorite franchise. I really hoped they wouldn't mess it up.
It took me a while to write this review, because I wanted to make sure I got past my fanboy response to the movie and was able to talk about the movie with a bit more distance and clarity.
What should Star Trek be?
Gene Roddenberry's concept of Star Trek was a simple formula:
- Basic wants and needs
But it should also tackle all of the most important issues of the day. (You can read more about this in my post: More Proof J. J. Abrams Doesn’t Get Star Trek). The early publicity left me with many concerns.
Addressing early concerns
Prequel/Sequel/Reboot [reus name="Star Trek iFrame"]
I was really confused about the nature of the film when they started calling is a prequel/sequel/reboot.
That is a strange thing to say, and alone, a statement that doesn't make sense, but for this film it works.
- Spock starts on Romulus like he is in the Next Generation
- The first Federation uniforms we see are right out of Star Trek Enterprise.
- Time travel story
- Young versions of the characters
- Establishes an alternate timeline for Star Trek
I am not sure I like the classification of this movie as a reboot. Battlestar Galactica was a reboot, this was more of a return to the core of what made Star Trek great in the original series. If this is a reboot so was:
- The Animated Series (added more exotic alien races)
- The Motion Picture (changed the Kligons forever)
- Wrath of Khan (Brought back the Action/Adventure quality of the series.
- Voyage Home (The crew of the Enterprise mess with the timeline)
- The Next Generation (updated the series for a new generation of fans)
- Deep Space Nine (Star Trek without exploration but with more military elements)
- Generations (Kirk is ripped from the timeline)
- Voyager (Star Trek without the Federation)
- First Contact (The Borg and the crew of the Enterprise mess with the timeline)
- Insurrection (The Federation is not perfect)
- Enterprise (Star Trek before the Federation without superior technology)
If you would count each of these major revisions of the setting as a reboot, than this movie is a reboot. To me, this sequel/prequel.
Turning Star Trek into Star Wars?
Abrams, Kurtzman anf Orci all said they wanted to turn bring more Star Wars into Star Trek, but I don't think they got there. I love both series, and I am familiar with the main qualities of both, and I don't think they brought much if anything from one to the other.
I was afraid that is was going to be more of a Lethal Weapon in Space, Speed: Warp 10, Star Wars: The Vulcan Chronicles, or Cloverfield 2: The Future of the Beast (WTF Star Trek Super Bowl Ad!?!). There is not a scene in this film that I could see easily fitting in one of the earlier films or the original television series.
Maybe they originally thought of Nero's ship as a sort of Death Star, but it is no more than Probe from The Voyage Home, V'ger from the Motion Picture, or the Son'a ships from Insurrection. Other than that, I just don't get it.
Uhura in her off hours
I was excited when I saw the clip of Uhura telling Kirk off in the bar. I hoped Kirk would get his butt kicked and he so did. I was concerned about the stripping clips of Uhura in the trailers but I love the way the dealt with her.
I loved the relationship between Uhura and Spock. It made sence, and it served to dehumanize Spock in an interesting way. The juxtaposition of her emotions and his total lack of emotions really hilighted the difference between humans and vulcans.
I know there are a lot of people who didn't like her depiction in this movie, but Uhura was always a more laid back member of the crew.
Addressing new concerns after seeing the movie
Kirk's Vaccine reaction
I loved the adverse reaction that Kirk had to the Vaccine that McCoy gave him. It was a flashback to the kind of humor the original series thrived on. It was silly, light hearted and interfered with the characters ability to do what they needed to do.
The Engine Room of Doom!
WTF were they thinking when they designed the engine room. It was funny, but I agree with Gwen DeMarco regarding the fate of the writer who came up with the idea for these scenes...
I could go off on a long string blue words, but I will let the others who have already done that do it. I just thought this was a blemish on an otherwise great film.
Nero's ship armament
Brian and I argued about this fro a long time after the movie. Personally, I think Nero was just a MacGuffin to give an excuse for the story to happen. Neither he nor his crew are intgral to the plot and could have been replaced by anyone else with any other motive using any other means. Nero is not important. They obviously didn't give his subplot any thought, and frankly, the movie would have been better without the distraction.
I wish the film would have had a real 3 dimensional villain, but I honestly didn't expect one from a J. J. Abrams movie. He has never done villains well. Every movie and show that he has ever touch has had a weak, impotent, or flat villain. A better director would have insisted on a better antagonist, but the story didn't matter, the action did.
Kirk's Exile from the Enterprise
Some people have complained about Spock having Kirk put in a life pod and jettisoned from the ship. If I really wanted to defend the movie here I would say that this was a symptom of Spock's frustration that Kirk should not be on the ship at all. I think that could be argued.
Once more, this is another symptom of Abrams' half-assed directing style. He needed to have Kirk on the planet to meet Spock and this was the quickest and most "visually exciting" way to do it. Let's be honest, this was an excuse to have Kirk chased by a Cloverfield reject so he could talk to Spock in a cave. It was not thought out.
Nero's motive for attacking Vulcan are nothing less than laughable. He was a stupid man on a stupid ship with the horridly named "Red Matter" who wants to destroy Vulcan rather than save his homeworld.
Maybe he thought he could do both. Rid the Empire of the threat of the Federation and save his homeworld. I think the reallity is a lot simpler.
Like most of the annoying things in this film it just wasn't well thought out. It was a flimsy excuse for a Nero to be a villain and commit a terrorist act without having to think about whether or not he has a good (or at least understandable) reason or not.
Nero is a flat, empty character and I can tell you why. This movie is nothing more than:
Wrath of Khan, take 2
This story follows the plot of Wrath of Khan beat by beat with several notable exceptions:
- Nero is not as scary as Khan.
- Nero does not have a motive for revenge.
- "Red Matter" is not as scary as the Genesis Device.
- Wrath of Khan had better writers and director.
This movie is to Wrath of Khan what the Next Generation episode "Naked Now" is to the Original Series episode "Naked Time." It is a good remake, but it is not as good as the original.
Is this Star Trek?
Let's measure it against Gene's definition
√ Action √ Adventure √ Basic wants and needs √ Tackle all of the most important issues of the day.
That last check might be a little controversial, but I thought the show dealt with the random nature of terrorism and the emotional cost it has on people.
Star Trek's New Phase
I am glad to say that Star Trek has been reborn, much as it was when Wrath of Khan came out. I loved the movie.
- Canon Uniforms
- Spock's relationship with the Romulans
- Characters were perfect
- Not just an action film
- great FX
- sense of humor
- The Engine room
- Lack of a serious villain
- Nero's Ship
- "Red Matter"
- The Alien Monster
- Kirk's marooning
Rating = 10
The Future of Star Trek
Orci and Kurtzmen have already signed on to write the next movie in the series, but that are not sure if it will be a Prequel, Sequel, or Reboot to this movie. They said they are waiting to see what the reaction to this film is. And there is one more thing:
Kurtzman: The very last scene when Spock and Spock meet each other, finally. And elder Spock is convincing young Spock that he couldn't interfere, because it would have diverted [Kirk and Spock] away from their friendship. And that their friendship is the key to the whole sort of shebang.
Orci: He gave him a recorded message from Kirk.
Kurtzman: He [elder Spock] said, "Don't take my word for it." And he handed him [younger Spock] a little holographic device and it projected Shatner. It was basically a Happy Birthday wish knowing that Spock was going to go off to Romulus, and Kirk would probably be dead by the time... (Topless Robots)
That could be the set up for the next movie. Personally, I don't want another movie. I want a TV series.
Hulu Awards: The SF Winners
Hulu have announced the winner of their first award thing. The categories were strange, and the "finalists" where not always what you would want to vote for. Several Speculative Fiction series, movies, and clips won. Here they are:
To no ones surprise the winner of the Realy!?! Award went to Triumph the Insult Dog mocking Star Wars fans on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
The idea that it is funny to mock Star Wars fans for not being molested by priests. I get tired of the idea that fans don't have sex. I assume these people don't know any fans, and I am sure they have never been to a convention. Most of the fans I know have too much sex. Gah, and am not going to get into my stop turning conventions into orgies rant here, but ugh. Stupid mundane people having stupid fun. Ugh.
The Watchmen! It is going to be hard to beat the Watchmen for best movie of the year, and this trailer is a great promo for it.
The Show We'd bring back
Firefly! It is close to impossible to find anyone who has seen Firefly who doesn't want more.
Costumes, Role Playing, and Unity
One of my absolute favorite aspects of fandom is the costuming and roleplaying, and I would have to say they are the two most maligned and stigmatized things that we do. Let's start with the most accepted by the popular culture and proceed to the least understood.
Computer Roleplaying Games
Mass appeal of video games have normalized RPGs on the computer, and why not. Final Fantasy, Mass Effect, and Knights of the Old Republic were all such brilliant games, it is hard to see how they couldn't have had a mass market appeal, but in the one place where Roleplaying should flourish, it is all but extinct.
There was once a type of game known as the Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG). The problem is that these too entered the popular culture, and they spawned a new bane: badge collectors. A sizable number of the MMORPG players became obsessed with their statistics, what badges they earned, and what loot they could get. The software companies saw these players as their core audience and in some cases, there only audience.
The games were increasingly designed for these players and not for the fans of story. Coinidentally, the acronym was shortened from MMORPG to simply MMO. Players have done what they can to keep roleplaying alive, but they are generally isolated to a specific server or guild, and they are not aided by the software designers who more and more are crafting games that challenge your prowess with a keyboard and mouse and don't require any thought whatsoever.
This is one of the reasons I am so excited about Star Wars: The Old Republic and Stargate Worlds. They are trying to bring story into the games and make it front and center. I wish them the best of luck.
Table Top Role Playing Games
Table top RPG fans are the geeks that geeks love to hate. Don't believe me? Listen carefully to a lot of the podcasts out there. It won't take you too long to find people having a geeky conversation about their favorite tech and occationally mocking TTRPG players.
Table Top games are not as easy to play as their computerized bretheren, but they are a lot more fun. There are more requirements to play:
- The Rule Books
- Friends who have free time to come over
I didn't stutter at the end, and no, I am not padding the list. Creativity is the ability to think originally, and imagination is the ability to see with the minds eye events as they are described to you.
I think those last two more than anything else makes people not like tabel top games. Personally, I love them. I run an Earthdawn game at the house every Sunday. Nothing brings friends together for a good time like a shared adventure built from the collective imaginations of everyone there.
Live Action Role Playing
Live Action Role Playing (LARPing) is penultimate expression of role playing. There are numerous systems for LARPing and they all generally involve renting a location, playing in a park, or the storyteller's home. Most LARPers dress up in elaborate costumes and carry props to aid in game play.
I used to play Vampire: The Masquerade both as a table top game and as a LARP, and I have to say, the LARPs were always more fun. We played at local conventions and I ran a chronicle that spanned various players homes, parks, and a few businesses who allowed us to use their establishment.
Who doesn't enjoy getting dressed up and spending a night as someone else?
One aspect of the LARPs I've played that made them so fun was that they were locked to the locations they took place. The story was handled through notes given to the players to explain what happened between sessions, and a couple players who agreed to play according to the scripted motives I provided for them. To this day, some of my favorite memories took place at LARPs.
We were a part of a LARP network where storytellers coordinated large scale events between cities, and at conventions our players would play through pivitol stories. The largest LARP event we threw had 500 players in attendence. 3,00o players made up the network. We coordinated through a email list.
LARPs are emense fun, and I miss them terribly. I had hoped that MMOs would provide a platform for virtual LARPs, but so far, they haven't.
Some people just love dressing up. They don't roleplay at all, they just wear the costume for enjoyment. For some, it is an uniform. For others, it is an expression of their identification with the character or race they are recreating. And others do it for the challenge of recreating the costume.
Steampunk is an entire movement built around costuming for the sheer fun of it.
Fans who Play together Stay together
Most of the deep, personal relationships I have developed with fans over the years has been between fans I have roleplayed with. We share an experience that is truly unique to the players who were there. Memories of events that are not replecatable in real life.
All these years later, I still run into people at the conventions who remeber the night my Taleison should have seen his reflection in the mirror and went mad. We talk about it like a moment from a movie or series that we loved, but our connection to the event is so much more personal because we were there when it happened.
So if you haven't before. I hightly recommend to gather up your friends and play a game with them. Feel free to choose the type, but make sure it is one that will build those memories that will last a lifetime.
What makes a fan a fan?
In August last year had a bit of back and forth over the definition of a Fan with Eoghann Irving from Solar Flare:
Eoghann Irving has posted an interesting rebuttal to my post, Fandom v The Scifi Channel, where he tackles the question What makes a fan? The critique of my position is an interesting one, and I have to say, I agree with his assertion that it sounds like I am trying to say that fans define themselves by their interest in SF.
While there are some who have adopted the fan culture for themselves, cultural adoption is not a requirement to be a fan.
What is a Fan?
We are fans.
We love music, stories, characters, settings, and images. We know about what we love. We participate in what we love. We support what we love. What we love supports us.
Fans are special. We are more than just enthusiasts who enjoy a piece of work, fans connect with the work. We feel it.
Fans share a bond with the works they love and with one another. Fans' passion is infectious, spreading the the works they love to others.
The love of a fan is a blessing to a responsible creator, but it is a curse to the reckless.
- Farscape fans kept the series alive despite the many attempts by the network to cancel it.
- Star Trek fans helped kept the series alive until the death of Gene Roddenberry when studio pushed the franchise away from its heart.
- Heroes and X-files fans fell in love with disparate aspects of their respective franchises, but when the series lost their way through a lack of focus on the part of the studios.
If a fan's love is scorned or goes unappreciated, the fan reacts in the same way a jilted lover would. If a fan's heart turns cold, it is almost impossible to rekindle it.
Fans know things about the things they love and enthusiasts don’t.
Anyone can quote Star Trek or Star Wars because many of the aphorisms have gone mainstream, but a Star Wars Fan knows who Ulic Qel-Droma and Exar Kun are. They have become such an important part of the Saga. They know the Chewbacca died on Sernpidal during the Yuuzhan Vong war trying to save Han Solo's youngest son.
Fandom is not defined by obscure knowledge. On the contrary, a fans love for a franchise causes them to seek out everything they can from that franchise. We read the books and watch the OVAs. A fan remembers the details and more often than not knows the minutia.
Fans create and enjoy filk, fanfiction, fan films, fan art, costumes and conventions. We often play role playing games, video games and MMOs in the settings we love.
Fan participation is the most commonly mocked aspects of SF fandom. No one mocks a music fan's attendance of a concert or a sport fan attending a game. They don't even mock the wearing of band shirts or sports jerseys, or fantasy football or rock and roll camp. These are not different from conventions, or filk, or role playing, or cosplay.
Fans support what we love. We buy the books, DVDs, and games.
This is where modern fandom is in the most trouble. The studios and publishers have not offered fans the options they want for media they consume. DRM (digital rights management) and region codes restrict how and where media can me viewed.
International fans often have few options for obtaining media other than piracy.
Media companies have to listen to the fans and make media available in as many ways as possible to they do not drive money away. They also must learn that they are not owners of their franchises, they are caretakers and conservators. The tighter they hold on to outdated and outmoded concepts of ownership, the smaller market they will have and the most desperate they will become.
What we love supports us.
Fans often gather insight and inspiration from the franchises they love. In moments of fear, I have found myself reciting the Bene Geseret prayer from Dune. It is also not uncommon for fans to quote dialogue to make a point.
These franchises are not just shows or books we like. More than we realize they are the myths that help us:
- talk about the aspects of life that are impossible to discuss straight on.
- see the connections between our lives and the transcendent mysteries.
- develop a pattern of living with honor, integrity, and purpose.
- react the trial, tribulations, and joyful moments of life.
This is why fans embraced the movie Galaxy Quest. It is a love letter to fandom, showing at its most extreme, but also showing it for what it is. A culture that gives hope and inspiration to millions.
Are you a fan?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself. The more times you answer yes, the better the likelihood you are a fan.
- Have you ever connected with a work on a deep level?
- Have you ever enjoyed something so much you rushed to tell someone?
- Have you ever played a game, watched an OVA, or read a book that is part of the extended universe of a franchise you love?
- Have you ever debated or conversed with someone about an aspect of a franchise's setting or the minutia of a setting?
- Have you ever dressed up as one of your favorite characters?
- Have you ever attended an SF convention?
- Have you ever bought a boxset?
- Have you ever quoted SF to make a point?
Saving Star Trek
Mixing Star Wars and Star Trek
Wired.com: J.J. Abrams makes no secret that he’s more of a Star Wars guy and not so much into Star Trek, but you two were full-tilt fans.
Orci: In terms of fandom, yeah, and Damon too is a fanatic - we’re not going to drop the ball out of ignorance. Nobody can say that we don’t know Star Trek. There might be some things we do that people could question, where they go, “I hate them for some other reasons,” but they can’t say, “They didn’t know their stuff.”
Orci: And it’s controversial to even mention Star Wars and Star Trek in the same sentence, but Alex said, “We have to bring more Star Wars into Star Trek.”
Kurtzman: (joke-coughing) Original Star Wars.
Orci: Original Star Wars. I want to feel the space, I want to feel speed and I want to feel all the things that can become a little bit lost when Star Trek becomes very stately — which I love about it , but….
Kurtzman: Star Trek is often the space equivalent of sub battles, which is what makes it unique and different from Star Wars, so you can’t blow that away, either.
Orci: It’s somewhere between that the truth lies.
Really? Again with people thinking that Star Trek is suppose to be an action series! It sounds like the new film will be, but that is not the original concept for the series.
I feel like I have to say something:
Science Fiction ≠ Action
I know this is a hard concept for some people to understand. While science fiction can have action scenes in it, one is not equal to the other.
Star Trek was intended to be a Science Fiction show, and many of their best episodes did not have any action scenes at all Like the City at the Edge of Forever.
Roddenberry wanted the show to highlight how diplomacy should be our first resort rather than violence.
5 Ways to Ruin Star Trek by Adding Star Wars
Make Your Heroes Less Perfect
Yeah, that is a great suggestion. Instead of trying to show a future that actually lives up to the ideals you have set for it, and that you are hoping your audience will also aspire to, throw all your ideals out the window and make your characters flawed and while your at it, make the future something no one will ever want to aspire to.
Less Talk, More Action
Diplomacy is overrated, lets just beat the crap out of each other for no good reason. A puerile show filled with hate and violence is better than a show that sets reason and self-control on a pedestal.
There is no way that a Star Trek with more space battles and less attempts to sit down and talk things through like grown-ups would be a bad thing (io9).
Except it would have to sell out all of its ideals in order to do it. For some people selling out seems to come easier than for others.
Ignore the Laws of Physics
Ok, Star Trek was a Science Fiction show. Science Fiction is a subgenre of Speculative Fiction where science plays and integral role in the plot, and it would not be possible to tell the story without it.
Ok, so, we take that away and Star Trek is nothing but a run of the mill Space Opera.
Have At Least One Sequence That Will Make A Good Video Game
That’s right. Think about the merchandising first. Stop thinking about the plot and the characters. Just think about the money you will make with the crappy game based on movie. (honestly, has there ever been a good one?)
Think about money, nothing but money. Nothing matters but money, and entertaining people who are so emotionally dead inside that they could not be moved by anything.
Put Uhura In A Metal Bikini At Some Point
Because, I am sure it is better to turn an important character into nothing but a vapid sex object that only hormonally brain damaged men will care about. What where they thinking trying to give women a role model to look up to. I suppose Graeme McMillan thinks that women should stay in their bikinis and not have all those pesky opinions.
IF this is the new Star Trek…
…then I know it is nothing that I want to see. My snarkiness aside, these truly are bad ideas.
If Star Trek was to be rebooted, I wish people would have listened to J Michel Straczynski and Bryce Zabel who wanted to keep the spirit of the original alive. (see there concept here)
What these people have described is not a reboot for Star Trek, but a different show with the same name.
May the Great Bird of the Galaxy save us all.
JJ Abrams told Entertainment Weekly:
Plus, at heart, Abrams is still more of aguy. ''All my smart friends liked Star Trek,'' he says. ''I preferred a more visceral experience.'' Which is exactly why he accepted Paramount's offer in 2005 to develop a new Trek flick; creatively, he was engaged by the possibility of a Star Trek movie ''that grabbed me the way Star Wars did.'' That meant a bigger budget and better special effects than any previous Trek film, plus freedom to reinvent the mythos as needed. ''We have worldwide aspirations and we need to broaden [Trek's] appeal,'' says Weston. ''Doing the half-assed version of this thing wasn't going to work.''
So everyone involved in the new movie wants to see these sort of changes... Grr Argh.
Check out my Star Trek Review.