In Defense of the Abrams-verse, Star Trek’s Revival

In Defense of the Abrams-verse, Star Trek’s Revival

              

This goes out to all of the naysayers.   

To the hard core Trekkies that reject the two newest films in the series and all those who tear it down at every turn. Why? The two films have some great redeeming qualities. They are pretty well crafted stories that are entertaining and fun to watch, not just for die hard fans but for people who have never enjoyed Star Trek before. They show some great acting and excellently crafted scenes. All of this wrapped around top notch special effects and a moving score. The Abrams-verse isn’t without its flaws but what’s really needed right now for Star Trek they are getting it right, entertainment. It seems like some Star Trek fans have been unduly harsh to the Abrams-verse. People have overlooked what the newer films have done for Star Trek. They are keeping Star Trek alive and in public view by making it fun, not only for people unfamiliar, but to veterans as well.

Prime Kirk, Picard, and SiskoTo make a declaration before we get too far into the thick of it. I count myself a Star Trek fan of the old order. The peerless wealth of character in the original show was always in my heart as I went on to love the depth and maturity of The Next Generation. And this same excellent depth of characters was later found in Deep Space 9, all coupled with a gritty realism.  For many years this was sci-fi nourishment to me and many others.

After these there was a drought of decent sci-fi on television. We started seeing its decline with Voyager and then when Enterprise was canceled. But aside from the superhero romps and a few oases here and there we’ve been with out great sci-fi. We still have a void where Star Trek fit into our lives. But in this desert of imagination we do have the newer Star Trek films to tide us over. The same incredible characters can be found there. Even the most staunch critics of the new films can still see the great talent Zachary Quinto brings to the Spock role. Or that ya feel all warm and giddy when McCoy spouts a crotchety line. Warmth and feeling is doubled down when that old fissile necked Scotsman is given her all she’s got. All orbiting around Chris Pine’s charismatic performance, making Kirk simultaneously a superhero but at the same time being believable and humanly flawed. They worked real hard at getting the characters true to the original and made them more believable in our modern age. Not many other modern sci-fi films would even try to pull this off.

Abrams-verse Zachary Quinto Spock Abrams-verse Chris Pine Kirk

Simply Compare…

Remakes: Total Recall and Robocop

both of the newer Star Treks to various other sci-fi remakes out there. Both Robocop and Total Recall lost a great deal when being revisited. They had great budgets and decent acting but the characters were not as strong as in the original, mainly due to the story’s writing and plot. They were a dry bed of storytelling that left a lot of people still wanting better.

The other sci-fi franchise out there, Star Wars, is a good example for comparison. It had all the great things of a good movie making; budget, character’s, name recognition, special effects, music, to name a few. Not to mention its legendary heritage of the first three films. 

Star Wars Anikin and Padme

An example of bad dialogue

 Arguably what held the newer Star Wars films back was the writing . The dialogue between characters was painful at times, the ever difficult romances and friendships were hard to swallow at best. Seeing Anakin and Padme fall in love was torture for the audience. These are the kinda scenes that left audience thirsty for the romance of the good old days of Empire Strikes Back.

   Characters and their dialogue is where Star Trek wins a fight in the never ending battle with Star Wars. Abrams’ writing is much better than any of the newer Star Wars films. Because of this the characters jump out at you and friendships and relationships are not only believable, they are enjoyable. Where Star Wars failed Trek succeeded thanks to Abrams and his crew. Who could honestly say that Anakin’s scene even compared with that of  Spock and Uhura’s. Both the actors in newer Star Wars and Star Trek are great but it was the writing that made the scenes.

After the dust settled for the new Star Wars films, people blamed the actors for the parch, hard to swallow scenes but this isn’t fair. Many of the actors had excellent work before and after the Star Wars prequels. Once the mirage of poor writing is removed the reality sets in that there are a lot of great actors out there, but there are far fewer great writers.

Abrams-verse Uhura and Spock

A good example

This is what is often is mistaken for bad acting, sub par writing. The things people say to each other, the dialogue basically. Without this both of the Abrams films would have been financial flops. But no one can argue the financial success the newer Star Trek films have had. True special effects helped this financial success but remakes like Total Recall and Robocop had these as well; they lacked great writing. This is the fuel the drives the actors performance. This is what makes Spock cold and logical yet still entertaining and Kirk’s gung-ho, take charge leadership style so interesting. Say what you will about plot in the Abrams-verse but the dialogue between characters is excellent. Dripping with style and entertainment to spare.

That being said the films are far from perfect.

Abrams-verse Kirk, Spock, and Khan

John Harrison has got a great surprise for you!!!

Though the plot in the first one is a great character/origin story and flows wonderfully the second film, however, isn’t on as solid a ground. The life line Prime Spock, Khan smuggling his crew out using weapons, interstellar transporting, Lazarus Khan blood, are all weak plot devices admittedly. Worst of all may be the failed M Night Shyamalan style Khan reveal plot twist that only fooled people who probably didn’t even care about Khan. People like casual movie goers, not die hard Trekkies. This major chink in the armor derailed and otherwise brilliant revenge story. It was a gamble, one that didn’t pay off but the film shouldn’t be condemned for it. Sure Into Darkness isn’t flourishingly perfect but it’s still a great reservoir of great entertainment.But slight plot failing and technical errors are not something new to Star Trek. Back in the old days of The Original Series and well up into the third season of TNG there are inconsistencies. One episode the phasers are blue instead of red, sometimes they refer to their shields as deflector grids, and how many times has an alien force propelled the Enterprise faster than warp 8 and everything was fine. Not a single person was turned into a lizard or anything. This is not even considering things like when Romulans are first seen on the view screen in “Balance of Terror”, the crew instantly assumes they are related to Vulcans because they look alike. But whenever they boldly go where no one has gone before, not only do they speak English, but they also look exactly like humans, but no one bats an eye at this. None of the Star Trek shows had absolutely perfect plots. We accepted the good with the bad.

The plot doesn’t  need to be perfect to be good.

The point is that we ignore the plot devices because we are drawn into the story because of overall plot told by the characters in the show. We are entertained. So we “willingly suspend our disbelief” that the lava monster over there isn’t just some guy crawling around in a cheap Styrofoam costume. It’s a living, breathing, alien that only wants you not to harm it. Blaming the whole film for some bad plot devices is the wrong thing to do, it is illogical.

Abrams-verse Scotty, Kirk, and Spock

“I didnta mean to make spaceships obsolete Captin!”

Sure Khan could’ve gotten away from Earth using Scotty’s transwarp equation and in turn, this could’ve made space travel obsolete. Maybe plot wise it would’ve been better if he just stole a shuttle or explained that normally it was expensive and dangerous to travel that far via transporter beam but Khan took risks. But these kind of small plot hiccups never should hold a story back. This is like rejecting a freshwater lake because a few mouthfuls are unpalatable when your dying of thirst.

 

It isn’t as if the original was free from cheap plot devices.

Star Trek: The Original Series Spock

Spock time traveling with da maths

Spock after all did have a time warp equation  in The Original Series and in the Voyage Home that could be executed at will. All he needed was a star and a slide rule. It doesn’t make the plot weaker if Spock uses it to travel back in time to get some humpbacks … … the whales, not the people. It’s simply a device to move the story along. In the end we allow this small plot device to get washed out by the story, we willingly suspend our disbelief.

Abrams-verse Admiral Marcus

Excellent performance by Wheller

It wasn’t the small plot devices that brought the Abrams film down a notch. It was much riskier ones, it was the Khan reveal surprise. While at the same time though Peter Weller as the ruthless Admiral Marcus jockeyed for attention with Khan, tugging the plot into different directions.  Weller’s performance was incredible,  but  there wasn’t enough room on the screen for both antagonists. In many ways he almost stole the show. This is what undermined the film more than anything else, two surprise villains driving the plot in two different directions. It was a big gamble with a large payoff that just didn’t work.

Star Trek: Insurrection Geordi and Picard

What do you mean the Journey’s End episode contradiction? Can you blame me, she was hot.

Is it enough to condemn the film?

I think not. Is it enough to condemn the Abrams-verse? Certainly not. Sure there are some weakness in the films but there are some great things to be found in both of them. For this reason it isn’t understandable why some died in the wool Star Trek fans bash the Abrams-verse and rank it so low. For what the two films bring to the table, I think the newer films are far better than all of the odd numbered Star Trek films. Even Into Darkness ranks higher in my opinion than Nemesis and Insurrection, maybe even The Search for Spock.

Sure it can never compare to the classics of Wrath of Khan that did so much with such a small budget. Nor will it gain cult classic status that some of the other films in the franchise have earned. But a franchise needs room to breathe, room to grow. Most importantly that is what the Abrams-verse gives to Trekkies, a chance to be reborn. It is giving us water in the drought of decent sci-fi that we were left in after Star Trek went into decline. Star Trek very nearly died off but despite some of its flaws, Abrams is keeping Star Trek alive. It may not be as good as a desert paradise oasis, but sometimes all we need is an IV drip to keep the franchise going. And who can argue that it isn’t at least doing that.

Star Trek (2009) Directed by: J.J. Abrams

Hope for Star Trek’s revival

What are your thoughts on the Abrams-verse Trek films? Did you enjoy Star Trek (2009) or Into Darkness? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

          

About the Author
Dr. McCoy doppelganger, amateur philosopher, stranded space traveler, and a man ahead of his time, but only by a few minutes.

16 comments on In Defense of the Abrams-verse, Star Trek’s Revival

  1. You make some really solid points and to be fair, the Abrams-verse films are very beautiful and do leverage the Star Trek style very well. I think my biggest issue with them is the decision to use Khan in the second film. I am frustrated that the 2009 film went out of its way to use a legitimate sci-fi loop hole to create an alternate timeline (they even flat out say it in the movie) but then immediately use that freedom to botch a remake of the film that saved Trek, The Wrath of Khan.

    There was so much they could do, new things, special things. Instead, we got a weird version of Khan with a reveal that means nothing to any of the characters involved since they’ve never met before. Keeping him as John Harrison actually improves the film instantly.

    1. Frank Bones McCoy says:

      Yea part of me wonders if Abrams started to feelers about remaking Star Wars while doing Into Darkness and kind of just rushed it out. leaving alot of the left overs to Robert Orci to finish. Orci never really appeared to care much for Trek or even the genre.

      There’s also a fine line to walk between keeping to the original and ripping it off. In the end though I’d rather them do something new than to risk copying too much of what was already great. I’d wish the films were less mainstream and more geeky but nothing’s perfect.

  2. Adam Carter says:

    In general, I agree with you. I do think the Abrams films get a bad rap. One aspect I’m surprised you didn’t touch on was the humor. In the 2009 Star Trek, I think I could watch the five minute stretch starting when Bones ‘infects’ Kirk to get him onboard the Enterprise over and over again. It’s one of the best moments of humor in any Star Trek film ever, and does so much to flesh out the personality of the characters. Simon Pegg also brings so much to the franchise in that regard. Whether it’s the writing or Abrams or the actor’s ability to inject it, I like the addition of a little more levity into the films.

    1. Frank Bones McCoy says:

      Man your right, I didn’t even think of the humor. Most Star Trek films don’t even approach the Abrams film’s level of humor. There are bits here and there and the one with the whales but not much. I guess I just rolled it all up into dialogue. I wanted to write more about Pegg’s contribution but I was already starting to worry about length on such an eclectic thing like star trek.

  3. Dan Phelan says:

    My only issue with the “Abrams-verse” of Star Trek movies is the way they wiped out the continuity of the “old” Start Trek.
    The original timeline included William Shatner as Kirk and Patrick Stewart as Picard.
    With the reconfiguration of the Star Trek timeline, we may never get Picard’s crew at all. All of the little interactions that brought about “The Next Generation” may not happen at all.
    Other than that, I’ve enjoyed the new Star Trek movies immensely.

    1. Frank Bones McCoy says:

      That and the death of Vulcan was a huge sad point to me. Loosing the alternate future and the home of everyone’s favorite first officer was tragic, it felt like a friend died. But it added to the film in my opinion. To me it made for great drama to know that the same people could be in the future, they’d just be slanted and changed. Data, Worf, all of them would still probably be there, just different. At the end of the day I’d be fine with that.

      I was more irked that even into the 2nd film Kirk is still learning the ropes and tripping over his feat. Like being a bumbling captain or something. But in the first episode of TOS he is a rockstar and is beyond failure, a true hero.

    2. Laura says:

      I’m gonna have to disagree that this is in any way a failing. Honestly, it is THIS argument that I hear most often with the Abrams-verse bashing. But I think it actually holds true to Star Trek itself. We have episodes of the TV shows that deal with alternate timelines! Look at the TNG episode where Yar comes back…as a Romulan. TOTALLY DIFFERENT! Star Trek has always loved to play with the concept of time. With the Abrams-verse, we are simply following one of those alternate timelines. That’s all! And yet still, we don’t completely give up what the original series had to offer, and I think you’re jumping the gun on that. After all, all the same beloved characters still managed to make their way to Star Fleet, and all managed to end up on the Enterprise. Timeline wonkiness notwithstanding. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the Next Generation characters would all happen as well.

      What this does is allow Abrams to maintain ties with the original series, to use what elements of the established timeline he can, while not being overly constricted by that same timeline in getting it EXACT — which rabid ST fans would catch on to in a second. He isn’t limited to precise star dates, which would be a pain to keep track of, and he can tell compelling stories while paying homage to its older counterpart.

      Why can’t people see that this was the only logical thing to do? 😉

  4. Jouko Vaananen says:

    These two new films were made for someone else, not for Star Trek fans. In my opinion they are good action sci-fi films but not Star Trek movies at all.

    With the reboot Abrams showed that he hasn’t got anything to add and no new storylines, he had to copy everything from the old movies.

    He would’ve had a shot with new stories but I guess it’s too difficult to come up with new ideas.

    These are not the voyages…

    …for me.

    1. Frank Bones McCoy says:

      Yea thats fair

      I always tell be people I like the newer films but in my heart of hearts, they are not exactly like the original. I’m fine with that, everything needs to grow and change.

      It reminds me of when Battlestar Galactica was being remade and the fact that they were planning to change so much, such as making Starbuck a woman. In a interview Edward James Olmos just told the crowd”If you don’t like the changes being made, then don’t watch it, stick to the original.” He didn’t make excuses. The newer BSG is a masterpiece and I’m not saying Abram’s trek is as good but you have to be willing to change things.

  5. Mobius says:

    Doug Drexler August 30 at 12:22pm · Edited ·

    It struck me this morning that the difference in Star Trek before Abrams was it’s nobility. That nobility has separated it from the pack for nearly 50 years. A Star Trek that cannot be introspective, questioning, science minded, and philosophical is Star Trek without its soul. That kind of Trek will lose its grip on human consciousness. After all, there are plenty of big bombastic science fiction spectacles that dwarf Trek, even in this age of Abrams. In an effort to widen its audience by extruding it into mass market science fiction, Star Trek has been stripped of what made it so enduring in the first place. Paraphrasing Whitfield/Poe… “(Star Trek) has given us a legacy – a message – humankind can create a future worth living for… a future that is full of optimism, hope, excitement, and challenge. A future that proudly proclaims humanity’s ability to survive in peace, and reach for the stars as our reward. Whither Star Trek?”… Indeed.

    1. Frank Bones McCoy says:

      I couldn’t put it better myself 🙂

  6. James says:

    Well, I thought the first one was beautiful. But Kirk wasn’t the Kirk that the “true trekkers” were expecting, which pissed them off. They wanted a 1960’s version of Star Trek. For that, they should stick to the fan films. Meanwhile, us younger fans (if you can call me that) wanted something new and exciting, and JJ pulled that off. However, I can be pissed off for JJ almost taking Wrath of Khan and spinning it backwards line for line. It felt cheap for him to do that. Could they not have the Kirk death without a terribly screwing up Wrath of Khan dialogue? Into Darkness felt like the writers simply got bored with the direction the story went so they threw this in. This one scene is what brings Into Darkness down to just above The Motion Picture as far as how good the movies are.

    1. Frank Bones McCoy says:

      Yea part of me thinks Abrams got a wiff of disney wanting him for Star Wars and only had a hand in the early production. leaving Orci, who has no respect for star trek, to take over.

  7. modiarty says:

    The new trek absolutely shows to the star wars prequel movies how romance is done. Anakin and Padme were supposed to be an important thing in the backstory of the main villain, but it feels like a token romance and falls in every trope concerning that.
    Spock and Uhura on the other hand were a nice surprise. It’s the romance you didn’t expect, but you didn’t know you needed in trek or could make so much sense thinking back about the original characters. It’s well done because it’s never over the top, it’s a heart felt and mature relationship about honest love.

    I agree that the movies are far from being perfect overal but Abrams did his job well.

    1. Frank Bones McCoy says:

      I’m hoping he finds a good home in the Star Wars universe, fingers crossed.

      1. Asep says:

        I was convinced by a feirnd to watch LOST season one. Just finished it. I wish they would kill, torture or get rid of Kate.’They must be making this shit up as they go along.It leads nowhere. I can’t imagine trying to watch this real time as it airs on television. I would have given up after four episodes.Fat guy never loses weight.Nothing is ever resolved.People keep finding out more about the murdering cunt named Kate, but everybody still loves the whore.Locke/Oquinn is insane. He ties people up and drugs them and he’s not nuts?Kate likes to drug people against their will too, but is still the cutie-bitch who everyone loves.If you just started watching and hope you’ll find answers to what the invisible monster is, quit now, it is never shown or revealed.Nothing usually ever makes any sense.There are interesting plot lines, and ideas, and dramatic scenes, but they always lead nowhere.If you actually waste an hour every week watching this show, you are LOST.People commit horrible crimes on eachother in the show, but always return to Gilligan’s Island type pals within 15 minutes.Gilligan’s Island makes more sense than this fucking show.The introduction of X-Files conspiracies can’t save this piece of shit, because at least in the X-Files plots are actually resolved.IF you have the DVDs, fast forward through all flashbacks’ they never mean anything, and lead nowhere, and offer no clues nor add anything to the show and are a complete waste of time.I admit I liked the concept originally, and the music and the format, now, its just a disgusting waste of time.You will have more fun wasting time watching DAYS OF OUR LIVES. This soap opera crap went out when they cancelled TWIN PEAKS because it ceased making any sense after we learned who killed Laura Palmer.They will kill characters that you really don’t mind, and keep all the characters you hate.If a new mystery appears, know that it will take at least 15 episodes to even come back to it, but don’t expect it to actually be resolved.This show is nothing but a scam to get people to keep watching TV commercials, and leads nowhere, and ends up making no sense, even though it could, and starts out making sense.LOST spelled backwards is STOL some phonetic fun and it sounds out STALL, and thats all this show is, they stall and stall and stall, as if they can’t even figure out how to make it make any sense, so they just add more mindless plot threads.This show will inevitable let everyone down, as there is no possible way to have any of it make any sense in the end, after the end of season 2.

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