Many fans enjoyed J.J. Abrams work on revisioning Star Trek with his 2009 film and thereby rebooting the franchise. Others, such as myself, were not so pleased with the efforts. After Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas it announced plans for a new film, and the search for a director began. After several unsuccessful attempts, J.J. Abrams came on board to helm the project with recent announcements. This was met with a variety of responses.
A recent essay at TOR.com addresses the cultural response to Abrams’ connection to Star Wars in ways that I deeply resonate with. The essay by Ryan Britt titled “J.J. Abrams, Star Wars, and the Homogenization of Geek Pop,” includes the following statements of interest and reflection. Relating to Abrams and his take on Star Trek are these isolated quotes:
J.J Abrams is a logical choice. But, the idea of Abrams helming Star Wars, while likely to produce a movie that’s visually tantalizing, is boring beyond belief, to the point of being soulless.
Abrams made it clear he was more of a Star Wars guy than a Star Trek guy, and as many have pointed out, it totally shows in his work. Star Trek (2009) is thematically not about science fiction, exploration, speculation about alien cultures, or any of the other nifty stuff that defines the spirit of Star Trek.
But a hit is not a classic and as much as I really liked Star Trek, and will likely enjoy Star Trek Into Darkness, this stuff doesn’t approach the level of being classic nor memorable.
As I said above, I agree with these sentiments, and found the Star Trek film disappointing, as I argued in a previous post “Star Trek 2.0 – Does it Work?. I took a lot of heat for my minority view, but Britt’s comments indicate that others may have appreciated the film more than I and yet still have found it largely wanting.
This essay, as the title indicates, also address the problem of homogenization of “geek pop,” although this phenomenon is not limited to this area of pop culture alone. A few quotes relate to this aspect of the essay:
We shouldn’t care too much about rapid fire editing or awesome cuts. Instead, we should hope for something new and interesting that might linger in our thoughts and consciousness for longer than we’re sitting in the movie theatre. The plots and themes of several of the more recent blockbuster movies are already pretty similar—do we really want them to all look the same too?
Art should take chances, which is what Lucas was doing in 1977. But now, something like Star Wars is the status quo. And thanks to J.J. Abrams, that’s what Star Trek is now, too: a beautiful product that can do no wrong (technically speaking).
Again, I recognize I’m in the majority, but I’m with Britt. I’d love to see not only more risk-taking artistry in geek pop culture, but more that is thought provoking as well. We get a few glimpses of this from time to time, like District 9, Moon, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but these are few and far between. Thanks for your efforts at trying to produce yet another blockbuster and resurrect a franchise, Mr. Abrams, but I’m afraid formulaic blockbusters is all we get anymore. You bore me. Give me the 1970s once more.