Saturday, October 18, 2008

And now for something positive - Entertainment Weekly's Star Trek story

Entertainment Weekly has always been a stalwart Star Trek fan, and Star Trek covers have often graced their biggest selling issues. Their new issue has a decent-sized (for EW) article filled with new tidbits and exclusive photos from the JJ Abrams Star Trek adventure. I've quibbled with Paramount's decision to spend $150 million and to move the film to the summer death slot that is the 'second big movie of summer'. Those complaints still stand. The article states that the movie is finished and they could have kept it in December of this year. And, had they known that Harry Potter 6 was going to flee to July, I'm sure that Kirk and co would have stayed put.

But I am very impressed with the photos and articles that have come out, from EW, MTV, Yahoo, and other sources. This is a huge step in the right direction. Paramount needs to as fearless for the next nine months as Warner Bros was last January after Heath Ledger died. Idiot columnists from Google Blog and Film Threat bitching about the budget and release date? To hell with him, take a look at these screen shots and let him eat crow.

And they are gorgeous images. What stands out, aside from the sheer scale of the production (I guess that $150 million didn't go toward catering) are the bright, bold colors, which seems to align with Abrams' statements about making an movie to contrast with our current moody times. Although the article's statement about optimism being an Abrams staple obviously comes from someone who's never watched Alias, Lost, or Cloverfield. Still, I'm pleased to see that Abrams isn't going to try to do the 'hip and 'cool' thing and attempt to make a dark and gloomy Star Trek universe.

Apparently, the first trailer will be attached to Quantum Of Solace, so that's another smart step. If this thing is any good (and we'll assume for the moment that it is), they need to start screening this as soon as the Oscar season ends. Do fan screenings, do female-only screenings, do kids and family-screenings. The only way to get non-Trekkies and the uninterested into that theater is to convince them that this is the rollicking good time that many people feel that didn't get from Indiana Jones 4 or the Star Wars prequels.

Wolverine will be dark and gloomy. Terminator: Salvation will surely end with the world in further chaos. Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince... well, you've seen the last two movies right? Transformers 2 will likely be an audio-visual nirvana, but an emotionally hallow experience. Star Trek's best bet is to be the high-IQ tent pole of the summer that is actually fun, that actually has something positive to offer on the state of humanity.

Spider-Man managed the same feat in 2002 (a film that also had uncommonly bright and shiny colors). It would have been a huge hit regardless, but it soared to record-levels as a denfitinely American piece of allegedly feel-good, high-quality, big-budget adventure that indirectly capitalized on the fresh wounds of 9/11 (no one seemed to notice that every character was psychologically screwed up and the film more or less had an unhappy ending). Star Trek has always been one of more optimistic and idealistic stories. It was colorblind in the 1960s, it was saving the whales in the 1980s, and it was making peace with lifelong enemies in the 1990s. The easiest and best way for Star Trek to matter again is be be a shining example for the best in humanity. The film needs to remind us that these people are and shall forever remain... our friends.

This gives me goosebumps everytime I see it, fitting that its the teaser for my favorite Trek film.

Scott Mendelson

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