New 'Star Trek' is rarely familiar to '80s ancestors
J.J. Abrams probably grew up a Star Trek fanatic, because his new Star Trek movie basically shows off his love of the franchise. He has all the main characters' cliches down pat, his young crew of actors nail the mannerisms and his movie has all the ingredients of a classic '80s Trek film.
There’s even a scene dedicated to the beloved Kobayashi Maru. Longtime fans will squeal in delight watching Cadet Kirk defeat the training exercise designed to test a person’s response to a no-win scenario. (And chuckle at the new backstory behind the once-futile drill.)
Still, his take on the franchise is very much a step outside of what '80s fans are used to. After getting a sneak preview on Saturday, here are five examples that come to mind. Don't worry -- I won't give away any real surprises:
1. IT'S MEN IN BLACK ... STAR TREK EDITION: Unlike the subtle Trek humor we’re used to, the jokes here hit like a hammer to the head.
2. A KISS IS ON HER LIST: Uhura is still the sex object, but her “first kiss” -- like the controversial one in 1968 between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols -- opens up a totally different story line.
3. WHAT'S NEXT ... 'THE SEARCH FOR CHEWBACCA'? The aliens here are more of the Star Wars cantina variety -- funny-looking, but still rather anonymous and forgettable. Why not use a beloved, blue Andorian or those pesky Cardassians instead?
4. IT'S NOT SHIP SHAPE: The Enterprise’s bridge is far too advanced for this point in history. And oddly enough, while the bridge seems -- pardon the pun -- light years ahead in technology, the rest of the ship looks like the city waterworks department or the luggage claim area at some third-world airport.
5. WHAT WOULD GENE SAY? The intellectualism of the TV shows and original movies is missing here, replaced instead with a Wild West attitude. Granted, this movie seems to take place just at the infancy of the Federation of Planets, whose role is described as defense-oriented rather than focused on deep space exploration. No “Prime Directive” is mentioned or even practiced here.
Would the late Gene Roddenberry approve of this vision of the Star Trek he created? We’ll never know, but he’d sure be entertained.