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Well things hit a new low for Star Trek fans today as the last rotting vestiges of the Kelvin continuity took what appears to be a fatal hit shedding more creatives and cast members.Is it the end of the big screen part of the franchise? Future movies are very much in doubt at this moment and there’s nothing in production.
On the small screen we’re (sadly) diving into a second ‘for pay’ self-hating season of disappointing Star Trek Discovery. Adding insult to injury we’re going even deeper after the original show, with apparently, a new (as in NOT Zachary Quinto) Spock? Not very promising for a show already reeling from plagiarism charges that are very likely to stick.
For fans of Star Wars the news is pretty much the same – The movies are cancelled or on hold for being sub DC bad. Both franchises will now be reduced to mere pay service streaming video shows.
Bravo JJ Abrams, you’ve done what Roddenberry and Lucas couldn’t, made Star Wars and Star Trek unWatchable!
He’s a double murderer of Sci-Fi Franchises. Douglas Addams would likely describe Abrams’ takeover of any franchise as ‘the coming of the great white handkerchief‘
By the time he took over Star Wars he had practice destroying beloved Sci-Fi franchises and a history of shabby treatment of original characters.
JJ Abrams- A Sci Fi Force of Failure
JJ Abrams made one good Trek movie which he then destroyed with a special edition commentary that was too honest and came off fan hating and trope-obsessed. Then Into Darkness was just a bad movie. So bad it destroyed any lingering sentiment for the previous movie and beat us up with a recycled plot that is now the ONLY plot JJ Abrams uses in a movie – The Bad Guy has a Death Star.
Sure, maybe it was originally a Romulan Mining ship or is just a gigantic Federation Starship, but its basically a Death Star and the story was just the same. A glimpse of what we were missing in the Cold Open only made Into Darkness worse. It was the best part of the movie and the ensuing nosedive never ended.
While Simon Pegg made a really watchable and in fact great Trek Movie in Star Trek Beyond it was too late, goodwill was gone. So little by little the remaining core of cast and creatives that had produced the most entertaining of the movies was allowed to erode.
How Did this Happen?
Ever since he shot Harrison Ford in the head to make predictable tear jerker “Regarding Henry” Abrams has depended on missing or dead parents to add some emotion to his loosely related series of vignettes.
Then we all got a huge dose of FAIL when he decided to simply cease LOST and create perhaps the worst final episode of any show ever. Some people praised him anyway and acted like LOST was Twin Peaks.
In the Star Trek movies he’s a one trick pony killing one each of Kirk and Spock’s parents On Screen in the first 40 minutes of his first Star Trek movie. 20 minutes into Into Darkness he kills Kirk’s surrogate father, Pike. So both characters are now partly motivated like Batman.
Remaking the Final Frontier into The Galaxy Far, Far Away
JJ Abrams only ever wanted to be the Star Wars guy and the stopover at Trek was complicated by his disdain for the franchise, fans and general all around desire to make Star Trek a Star Wars substitute. This extended to having tons of collectibles like never before. Abrams was aware that the merchandising had been the sweetest peach for Lucas and he was trying to do the same thing. Stories of petty obsessions with toy revenue and disputes with the original cast would also surface occasionally, only making Abrams look worse.
In the infamous Star Trek commentary to his first Trek movie Abrams gave away a little too much. Like when he tells us Captain Kirk is now based on Indiana Jones (and Batman), especially when he fights and only wins through luck. The concept would have been better had he not boasted of it and dispelled the magic of the moment as he explained the point for point similarities to the fight where Kirk and Sulu fight some Romulan goons and the iconic ‘Spinning German Plane Fight’ from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”
Abrams mostly sounded like he had made the movie off a checklist and this was his “Indy fights the Plane Mechanic from Raiders of the Lost Ark Homage” box that he just needed to check off. He was drunk or high and telling too much of the truth that day but we’re lucky to have it on the record.
More importantly to the “Star Trekky-ness” of the new franchise, Abrams simply threw away the idea that we would just go to a planet and hang around observing and exploring. It seemed to be a concept that was scrupulously avoided to say risk the ship, struggle with the Prime Directive and possibly encounter a race analogous to the current state of Humanity or any combination of those things.
He never did Star Trek at its best, where it shines a light into a flaw inherent in humanity and aspires towards a future where we’re simply more reasonable. No one expected that lofty theme all the time, but it never got any attention. Its probably the hardest thing to pull off, but episodes of the Next Generation did it all the time and the Original series of course pioneered this. Would it have been that bad to give it a try? Star Trek became mere action and adventure.
JJ Abrams was largely successful in this endeavors to change and destroy Star Trek. Then, in a shocking turn of events he got his dream job, to destroy Star Wars. Again he was largely successful.
Destroying Star Wars
The cash grab for toy money was so crass and obvious it forced some ‘Legally Necessary Dialogue’ into the Disney Star Wars movies. Who doesn’t love warm Disney Star Trek moments like when C-3PO pointlessly makes mention of his red arm? It stuck out as bad and it was just so obvious why the line was in the movie. It was unseemly.
In so many words; it was all so that JJ Abrams could get his own ‘red armed C-3PO toy’ out there and keep more toy money! There’s other examples you’ll easily find if you watch with the idea “Abrams is trying to secure a toy revenue stream” in mind. So the quality of the dialogue is secondary to selling stuff. So the movies are, in a sense, long commercials where we pay to be pitched things. Lucas was not the greatest with this either, but his movies and merchandise were just better and so was his ‘in movie product pitch’.
During his time at Star Trek toys were an issue and the toy money obsession lead Star Wars down many awful paths too. We’d seen this before in Star Wars, but Abrams take on weapons and droids just isn’t as cool as what Lucas created. Just think about all the anger over Kylo Ren’s ungainly lightsaber and then think about Darth Maul’s lightsaber. The Lucas created weapon is great. The Abrams weapon is just sort of okay on its best day. Lots of people hated it. Never heard that about any Lucas weapon. Lucas was just better at weapons (and ships, droids and stories).
The Abrams Trap–Good Beginnings that Go Nowhere
Anyone saying JJ Abrams ‘only writes beginnings” is absolutely RIGHT ON! The last decent movie he made, his first Star Trek, was one long beginning. The next movie, Into Darkness, was a mere rehash.
In the case of both Trek and Star Wars he wrote himself and the franchise semi – excitingly into an ultimately boring corner that pre-compromised the next movie. The Force Awakens was okay until the sequel destroyed it as lots of false cannon and quickly abandoned ideas both good and bad. He’s also about the only writer to have less plot ideas as he goes forward.
On the bright side he got away with a few shortcuts. The launching of the First Order Assault ships was unnoticed by most as a re-hash of his original Star Trek movies credit sequence as shuttles escape the doomed USS Kelvin. I don’t know how he got away with this one, so similar. I think that’s when he really starts thinking everyone’s an idiot but him as the movies have more and more blatant tropes and more big budget moments shoe-horned in to inject some excitement into dull stories.
For Star Trek after he leaves things improve fast. We got a near Abrams free movie and Beyond was enjoyable, refreshing and very much a return to form. Fans were already pre-heated and angry though and the movie underperformed. Sadly this seems to have had a discrediting effect on more relatable plots and Discovery has been abysmal. The lessons of the Abrams era were lost and the mistakes are now being compounded in Star Trek Discovery,, a show that went to one planet for one episode and was mostly a plagiarized soap opera otherwise pilfered from a videogame….badly.
In Star Wars we get The Last Jedi, a movie where both plots start with bad jokes that fall flat. The problem where Rian Johnson, the writer for the that movie, had just inherited nothing to work with was front and center through the whole awful sham. He also didn’t really distinguish himself with his self-important ‘trick’ ending that fails.
Who didn’t pity poor Mark Hamill, forced to play Skywalker as a guy who toys with murdering children? That trait was supposed to SKIP A GENERATION! The moment he holds his lightsaber on Kylo Ren’s bad for both characters. Luke looks horrible and the bad guy suddenly has real justifications that are badly related. Like Han Solo being a bad dad wasn’t enough?
Handcuffed by the need to have a Death Star but not have an actual Death Star, which has been the plot of five of this franchises movies, Johnson gives us “Miniaturized Death Star Tech” in the Gun on the Salt Planet. Then Luke dies but doesn’t die. Then dies, kind of.
As an aside- Why Laura Dern was even in this movie is a “wondering out loud’ blog-post of its own
Where We’re At
Perhaps this is the best way to sum up the “genius” of JJ Abrams- both Star Wars and Star Trek have ALL FUTURE MOVIES ON INDEFINITE HOLD AND ARE ONLY PRODUCING STREAMING PAY TV SHOWS.
Highly flawed Star Trek Discovery, mired in a plagiarism lawsuit that Star Trek writers should have been above, are now going to do what the Abrams dictate demands – Treat original characters with total contempt. A characters parent will die soon! Hell, we killed off a bunch of parents and doubles in the long boring trip through the new ‘improved’ mirror universe.
While Star Wars seems locked in to a terrible and unwanted Episode 9 that will likely be all house-keeping and a way to set up Non Skywalker future for the franchise, things are even worse for Star Trek.
Discovery is stuck in a badly plagiarized and predictably over the top world of super high stakes. The shows got a lot of flaws but the stakes being way too high is a constant. So’s the lack of humanity the characters show. Casualties among the crew don’t give the commanders pause.
The obvious ‘save’ for Discovery would be to have them always have been from a parallel universe to begin with and an honorable way out. It’s even a little interesting and freeing. It’s also pretty in keeping with the better Star Trek traditions and themes of over half a century. I hope they try it.
Disovery’s Loose End- The Spore Drive Fiasco
Their “Spore World” is just not going to be maintainable. The fact is the lawsuit and outrage revolves around it. Unrelated to the lawsuit, there’s another group of people annoyed about a perceived thinly veiled rip off of Dune that also swirls around the pilfered Spore Drive idea.
Look for the Spore Drive to get little if any mention. They’re just going to have to find another reason to spin the saucer section on two axises at once. It’s kind of a stupid effect anyway. So much for your experimental Starship idea.
Star Trek has only one course – but it’s a chance for perhaps the greatest Trek movie of all.
Star Trek’s Only Hope
Give Quentin Tarantino complete control of one movie. Deal with the consequences, it’s only the Kelvin Universe. You could kill the whole crew in a stunning jump to the future and a meeting with a re-cast generation if you want. Bringing on Tarantino for as long as he wants seems a no-brainer. It’s hard to imagine Chris Pine and the other defectors wouldn’t return for something like this.
Let’s hope both franchises can recover.