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The Angst of Trek?

Angst - Focusing on anxiety that leaves the character full of doubt and uncertainty.

The new (and reportedly final) trailer for the upcoming Star Trek is online at Apple trailers. Check it out here. The film is due in theaters 5/8/09.

This trailer simply rocks, for the first time making me excited about seeing the film. And yet, I can’t help being apprehensive. I’ve been a Trekkie since before there was such a thing. I watched the very first episode when it very first aired way back when. I watched the salt vampire try and suck Kirk dry, saw Spock attempt to smack it around, and saw McCoy blast it into eternity. I was hooked.

Despite that, and my continued love of the show and several of the movies it spawned (everybody scream, “Khan!”), I’m not so fanatical as to object to any change. From what I’ve gleaned of the plot for this film, it sounds pretty intriguing. A Romulan is apparently more than a little pissed at how things have turned out for his planet. To correct things, he travels back in time to rid the universe of the two things that have, in his mind, set back the Romulan empire: James T. Kirk and the entire planet Vulcan.

That’s right, as we always suspected, Kirk is at least as important as an entire planet.

It’s a neat setup. Kirk’s parents are killed so Kirk is raised by an asshole of an uncle. As a result, instead of the confident swaggering Kirk we’re used to, we meet little jerk Kirk. You get a hint of all that in the trailer, btw, so I’m not spoiling too much. And maybe the rumors I’ve read are all wrong. Doesn’t matter, because if the storyline really is about jerk Kirk trying to set things right in the universe, this could still be a neat flick.

The problem I’m having is one of attitude. In the original Trek, Kirk & Co.  joyously faced the unknown in episode after episode. There was an irresistible optimism, not just that the future would be brighter, but in the sheer joy of exploration and discovery.

Where’s it all gone?

I can understand why Bruce Wayne broods, why Peter Parker pouts. I can even understand why the new Superman sulks. But more and more, this entire self-involved, angst-ridden, self-involved, narcissistic attitude is dominating film characters. I suppose they call this depth, but a little goes a long way and instead we’re getting it by the bucket loads. It annoys the crap out of me that it appears to be  invading Star Trek.

Now, you could argue that in the very best Trek ever made (scream it with me, “Khan!”) Kirk was suffering a bout of angst. It was more a mid-life crisis, though, and he had the years to justify it. Besides, the old joy come back as the story unwound, even in the face of death, especially in the face of death. If you count in the next two films, thus making a little trilogy, you see that by the end Kirk & Co. are reborn. Doubt me? Watch how Kirk and Spock march out of Federation HQ at the end of The Voyage Home. They are in confident lock-step, about to return to their natural element, the bridge of a starship traveling deep into uncharted space.

Maybe I need to think this through, maybe it’s not this bad, maybe I only feel this way every time I see the new Kirk’s kiddie-like face as he squats into the captain’s chair (is deep in brood or is he about to make a doo-doo?) because the rest is beginning to look sooo good.

Besides, I suppose I can treat this rendition of Trek like I had to treat Conan the Barbarian. John Milius re-conceived much of Conan, too (OMG, Conan a slave?!?!), but I eventually embraced the changes, but it took a bit.

Maybe that will happen here, but I sort of doubt it. Writer-director-producer J.J. Abrams has as much as, “This is not your father’s Star Trek.” Well, my father never liked Trek (except for, and let’s hear you shout it, “Khan!”), it was always my show.

While honoring the past, Abrams wants to re-establish Trek as something new and different, and he’s apparently doing so by given Kirk a major make-over.

One apparently fraught with angst.


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