Category Archives: Abramanation

Abramanations Multiply

This is my current review for Star Trek: Into Darkness on the Rotten Tomatoes website;

It doesn’t matter if it premieres the resurrected Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, I won’t be going to see this film in a theater. This will be the first film in Star Trek history that I’m actually hostile about before I’ve even seen it, and one of three that I loathe ever having been created (FYI, it’s the last three) I cannot express the level of revulsion that I feel when I contemplate what kind of depraved acts will be enacted on the corpse of one my most cherished memories from another time. Better to just pretend it isn’t happening, I guess. 

I did catch a “edited for television” version recently.  It was every bit as bad as I imagined it would be, and then some.  Somehow the internet haters really failed to communicate just how ridiculous this farce of a film was.  I’m not sure how this is possible, but it is.  Magic blood.  A Khan that isn’t South Asian. Starfleet officers engaging in conspiracies, taking the lives of their own people when they fail to submit to aggression.   

That Khan failed to pervert the crew of the Enterprise in the TOS episode “Space Seed” because future man is no longer susceptible to terroristic threats of this kind is a philosophical achievement lost on the creators of nutrek and the Abramanator himself.

The number of violations of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future are almost uncountable.  They will remain uncounted by me.  It was enough for me simply to confirm that the film was bad and not just bad Trek. 

My apologies to the ghost of Gene Roddenberry for having witnessed this narrative of depravity. 

The film rates half a star on the 5 star system. I can’t rate it lower than that or I would.

Having failed to keep up my end of the bargain and actually never watch the film, I felt I had to come clean and admit to my transgression.  This article isn’t just about Star Trek: Into Darkness.  I haven’t been a Trek fan for quite a few years.  I quit following the show or hanging around with fans of Nutrek ages ago, not long after declaring Star Trek dead in 2009. I have no interest in being an internet hater.  I have even less interest in spending time in the presence of people who like things that I think are unforgivable violations of the intellectual property of a long-dead inspiration.

I am quite happy sitting here alone in my office.

I am forced to revisit this subject because the abramanations continue, and the general movie-going population remains vacuously enamored of J.J. Abrams’ tripe.

I sat down and watched Star Wars VII a few weeks ago with the Wife. We had planned on watching that film on the big screen and we missed it because it left theaters within a month of coming out, quicker than any other Star Wars film in history. I distinctly remember saying;

Given what George Lucas has done to Star Wars, I can hardly imagine how Abrams could fuck it up more than he has.

When it was first announced that J.J. Abrams would direct that film. Having watched the film I feel I now owe George Lucas an apology.

I owe George Lucas an apology because Star Wars VII is just Star Wars IV told even more poorly as a story, while millions upon millions more are spent on meaningless effects sequences.  It is a marvel to watch from an effects standpoint (much like Mad Max 4) while being almost incomprehensible from a plot and story perspective (also like Mad Max 4) And since George Lucas filmed Star Wars IV with less money and with no example to script by, I have to conclude that his is the superior intellect when contrasted with the abramanator.

It is nice to be proven wrong on occasion, even when the proof takes a few hours out of my life and a few yards out of my intestines due to the indigestion caused by stress.  Stress caused by having to watch bad filmmaking being rewarded so lavishly.

I blame LOST.

I never did do a post series write-up on that show, even though (as the link illustrates) I was quite the fan, following all the crumbs and clues and waiting for the next episode and the next season with breathless anticipation.  Until the story stopped making any sense at all, sometime during season four. I doggedly continued to catch every episode even then, and bought the DVD collections for each season, trusting that somehow it would all make sense in the end.

Except it really never did.  LOST is singularly the worst written story arc ever to be completed in a television show. It is the only show that, having gotten to the end, I really wanted all my invested time back. Not only does the story not make any sense, but the finale attempts to make every possible fan prediction about what the island was, and how the characters survived, be true simultaneously.  It is the series that best manifests the truism trying to make everyone happy is the surest way to piss everyone off.

Every season following the third season became harder and harder to watch.  Far from being the finale that ruined the show for me, it was the reliance on tropes and heuristics to ‘sort of’ move the show along to the conclusion that most of us saw coming years before the confirmatory finale; the finale which so deflated everyone’s expectations about the meaning of it all.

Why season three?  Remember the season three cliff-hanger ending? (I despise cliff-hanger season endings. Loathe them. What happens if the stars die or back out of their contracts? Just pretend the viewers weren’t left hanging?) Charlie’s big sacrifice? Didn’t mean anything.  It might have meant something if the Oceanic 6 hadn’t then gone on to… What? Go home, become helpless invalids? Fail to raise children and then return to the island? Return to the island in the past (a past that the smart guy in their midst says can’t be changed) Return to the island and be blown up by a nuclear explosion (an event that historically didn’t happen) which traps them in a time bubble. For all eternity. With people they hate as well as the friends they love.

I hate to break it to this guy, but if you have to explain what the ending meant in order for people to get it, then it really wasn’t closure of any kind, much less a good ending for a series.  The only reason people still talk about LOST is because the J.J. Abrams is Hollywood gold for some inexplicable reason, and so people feel obliged to say nice things about the series that launched him to success.

I watched in disbelieving horror when Damon Lindelof was paraded out a few years back on The Nerdist, which was airing on BBC America at the time.  Held up as some kind of authority on time travel stories, taking apart what turned out to be better, more interesting stories that used the story-telling vehicle in question.

Damon Lindelof. An authority.

An authority on stories about things which most scientists will tell you are theoretically implausible, which is about as close to impossible as you can get a scientist to go.

Let me put it this way. My reading of time travel stories and watching time travel movies, being obsessed with the concept of time travel for as long as I can remember. My discovery of Doctor Who in 1972 on a hotel television screen in Denver colorado (on a channel called PBS that I’d never heard of) makes my left testicle more of an authority on time travel than Damon Lindelof or J.J. Abrams himself.  They so screwed up time travel as a story vehicle in every episode of LOST and in the Abramanation, making the story vehicle a distraction from rather than the method of telling the story that I can’t even begin to explain how they might fix it other than to tell them to go talk to actual speculative fiction writers about what they did wrong.

Which brings me to the real reason I started this post. I ran across a clip on Youtube (see, I said it was bad news) advertising an HBO series that riffs off of another movie and story that I grew up on. That would be Westworld.

This is one of those rare films I was allowed to go see as a child. What is most interesting to me looking back at it; this film and the Andromeda Strain mark the beginnings of my exposure to Michael Crichton, which ended with his death in 2008 and the novel State of Fear, which many people mistake for non-fiction. In the middle was Jurassic Park as a high note and the poorly adapted Congo as a low note (the novel was much better than the film) it seems that his imagination has served as punctuation marks along my journey through science and speculative fiction.

I liked the original film. It is quite campy now and probably barely watchable. I don’t know for sure.  What I do know is that the J.J. Abrams is highly touted as having a hand in the HBO series.


Which spells doom for the series from the outset, if you want to take my word for it.  I doubt that most people will, since most people think that Star Wars VII is a good film, so I’ll try to put it another way.

The watchability of this series will be in direct inverse correlation to how much actual control Abrams has over it. 

It could be a good series, I won’t be holding my breath.  I won’t be able to watch it anyway until it hits Netflix or some other third party site since I don’t pay for HBO any longer.  That is one fine trailer though. Gunshots and partial nudity. Deep bass vibrations in the music to amp up the fear. Lots of famous actor cameos. Hits all the marks that advertising executives require. Just like the trailer for Star Trek: Beyond. Haven’t seen that Star Trek either, but I might watch it. I might even pay to watch it. Someone else wrote and directed it, so it might be OK as an experience.  Remember, an inverse relationship to Abramanator control. The Star Trek trailer sports the Bad Robot logo, though. Not a good sign.

HBO is riding the crest of a wave that they hadn’t expected to be on.  Who would have thought that George R.R. Martin would hit it big on television, with HBO as a backer creating the adaptation of his long running A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series which only people who live in caves without the internet won’t recognize as Game of Thrones.

I am now obliged to offer an apology to George R.R. Martin as well as George Lucas. Not just because I’ve first mentioned him in this article about the dreaded Abramanations; but also because, unlike the rest of the family and probably the rest of Austin if not the entire US has seen, read or listened to his stories and I still can’t name one title of his I’ve read even though I distinctly remember sharing a table with him at an Armadillocon somewhere in the murky past.  For that, and for mentioning you here, I truly am sorry.

But HBO is the channel riding the wave now, as AMC was riding the wave of popularity following Breaking Bad and the first few season of The Walking Dead. We’ll just have to see if AMC continues to ride the wave with the next seasons of The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul (which I like more than Breaking Bad, but my liking things is usually bad for their continued existence. Just a word of caution) After the lackluster reception for the cliffhanger ending season 6 of The Walking Dead, they’ll just have to keep their fingers crossed.

Since Westworld isn’t likely to include nuclear weapons or time travel, it is probably a safe bet to watch it. A safe bet for HBO to back it. I’d be on the lookout for the Abramanator to find some way to include those devices in the show, if I had money on the line. If he does, take your money, run and don’t look back.  You’ll thank me for it later.

Cable Wars

I haven’t mentioned this on the blog, but I’ve been watching The Walking Dead since 3rd season rolled around.  I dismissed the concept when it was bandied about before production started, because I didn’t think you could do a television series that could be kept interesting throughout its run based on the the general idea of a post-apocalyptic setting.

The Wife has worked on zombie films in the past. Our garage has been turned into an effects studio and art studio more than once when the demands for getting effects completed for the films she has worked on grew larger than could be completed on set; if the film even actually had an official set they were shooting on.

So when The Walking Dead was proposed as a TV series, it crossed the radar here at the house simply because of the subject matter. When the series failed to disappear as I predicted, I decided to give it a viewing just to see what it was about. I binged-watched the first two seasons on Netflix, paid for the few of the third season episodes I had missed on Amazon, and started watching the show live after that.

I’d say I love the show, but really I’m just there for the characters and for Greg Nicotero‘s excellent effects work. The storyline has been inconsistent over the seasons and really could do with some long-term plotting in advance of shooting, in my completely amatuer opinion.  If there is storyline plotting across seasons, it isn’t apparent in the progression of the story. However, it is one of the few things I do watch on television these days, my tastes ranging to the truly eclectic corners of rarely watched channels available on cable television.

I used to watch a lot of programming on BBCA, having a long-term love of a wide range of BBC programming including the recently relaunched series of Doctor Who and the even more recently canceled Top Gear. I was forced to give up BBCA last year because of costs increases phased in by my local cable provider.  That and the Science channel (which I wish had more actual science on it) and several other channels I watched more than the more normal fare available on basic cable were priced out of my reach in the latest price increases rolled out by US cable providers.

Rather perversely, most of the cost that I pay for my cable subscription goes to fund the incredible price tag placed on live broadcast of sporting events.  The last time I ever watched a sporting event of any kind on television was the first Superbowl that the Seattle Seahawks qualified for, because the Wife loved the Seahawks when fantasy football first appeared back in the 1980’s.  She never watched a game in her life before that Superbowl, and I had to explain the most basic facts about gameplay (4th and ten? What is that?) to her in order for us to get through the game. That was also the game that was stolen from the Seahawks with a bad call by an umpire, reminding me precisely why I hated sports in the first place; that arbitrary interference by non-players on the field can alter the outcomes of games in ways that are patently unfair. So that was the first and last game ever watched in this household, and the common joke that my TV is broken it won’t display sporting events has held sway ever since.

Consequently the news that my local provider may be removing AMC from the list of channels I can currently afford has gotten under my skin.  I remember when Paramount pulled Voyager from syndication and insisted that Austin had to create a broadcaster for UPN (and the local cable companies had to then carry that broadcaster) in order for fans of the show to be able to see it. That is the number one reason I stopped being a Star Trek fan, a change in my preferences that was solidified by the creation of the Abramanation.   I also remember when Time Warner threatened to stop carrying football games because of the costs that cable provider refused to underwrite for the NFL.

We are in the midst of yet anther cable war, with the various parties attempting to get more of the piece of the pie than they are currently getting, and I really don’t have time for any of them. I am unconcerned about the profits of the various corporations who want to prove to their shareholders that they have the clout to get what they want, so buy our stock. All I want is to be able to watch the programming that I am interested in, however that content is delivered.  KeepAMC or TV on my side (one of the worst programmed sites on the internet, hands down) a pox on both your houses.

I have been threatening to cut my cable and get all my entertainment directly from the internet for a couple of years now. If my cable company really was on my side as their website claims, I would be able to watch the shows I wanted to watch without having to pay extra for programming I don’t watch. The cost of providing me access to old and independent films and even well-produced television series runs about $8 for Netflix, why do I have to pay upwards of $100 dollars to my cable company for virtually the same menu of items? If AMC really wanted me to watch their programming, they’d make it available directly from their website and not force me to subscribe to a cable provider.

Those are the facts of the case, not the crap that they offer as excuses through their proxies. If AMC is priced out of my ability to pay for it as the rest of their network currently is, I will be cutting the cord like so many other Americans have done. I have no use whatsoever for continuing to pay for cable access that is limited to programming that I don’t watch anyway.  Paying too much for that already. 

Another Abramanation on the Horizon

For some reason I ‘liked’ Star Trek on Facebook (an error I intend to correct shortly) so I was jarred out of a fanciful daydream when this image appeared on my wall.  Yes, that is a nacelle, coming up out of the water.

For those who may not remember, we’ve covered my rejection of Abrams’ work on Star Trek in the past (the label Abramanation is assigned here)  as well as my long term unhappiness with where the franchise has been going dating back to before the series Enterprise was rolled out. This is not a sudden separation from Trek on my part, but a well thought out and gradual withdrawal from the fan scene.  I simply don’t have enough in common with current fans to have an interest in the ins and outs of fandom any longer. 

As the comments followed on the image I was appalled to note this entry;

“If you think about it a submarine is very much like a starship. It makes sense that to hide a space vessel waters like a large ocean or lake. It is completely sealed and pressurized. Why not hide it under water?”

This is why Star Trek and science fiction in general have become so dumbed down. There is absolutely no engineering resemblance between a space vessel designed to hold air in, and a submarine designed to keep water out. Not similar, at all. But to the layman it’s a “woo-woo” moment. “Look, it’s underwater!” (eyeroll) Oh, really.

Before fans of the franchise pop up with objections, I’d like to offer the following list of observations;

  1. I don’t accept the premise that “any Trek is better than no Trek” voiced by some of  the commenters to that thread, and by fans I’ve talked to in the past. I would specifically prefer no Trek to continuing Abramanations, which is ultimately why I no longer refer to myself as a Trekkie or a Trek fan. The franchise has gone somewhere I do not wish to follow.
  2. I don’t “hate” the abramanations. On some levels they are quite enjoyable as most eye candy is; the problem is that Star Trek has never been simply entertainment to me. I don’t become a 20 year fan of things that are simply entertaining. I’m not a fan of Gilligan’s Island, although I laughed while watching nearly every episode. Consequently when Star Trek crossed over into the “just entertainment” category, I stopped being a fan of it. Like it or not, I don’t care.
  3. There are specific problems with every single SF venture that Lindloff and Abrams are involved in; generally it amounts to not paying enough attention to established factual science (like the engineering issue I pointed out previously) not developing believable characters because of lazy story plotting (“Isn’t it cute?”) and not enough research into established canon. When combined, you have a final product that is nearly unwatchable to the technically educated, ridiculous to the trained storyteller, and offensive to the hardcore fan.

This is why there are so many vocal objections to the latest iterations of various franchises that the average popcorn chewer will dismiss as a hater. It’s not hatred to offer valid criticism for what is a weak effort from people who are being well paid (over paid, from my perspective) and provided with lavish budgets to produce what could be very high quality artistic works, if only they took the time (see James Cameron) to do the due diligence that an undertaking of this magnitude requires. 

 In Other Words, promoters of the current Abramanation, don’t ask for opinions if you don’t want opinions.


I finally did see this film edited for television recently (sometime in 2016) I wrote about it here.

Star Trek by the Minute, the Last Minute

With minute 117, STBTM has come to a close. I think this quote from the comments pretty well covers it.

I believe the point that this film was shamefully sexist, religious, ignorant, inconsistent, and poorly written in ways I never would have imagined…
…all have been made sufficiently by the detailed qualitative assessments in each segment.

I haven’t done an exact count, but the number of minutes with women speaking or appearing in this film amounts to less than a quarter. Considering that the only ‘person of color’ in the film also happens to be the only woman with a significant speaking role is just a further indictment of the film.

I stand by my original assessment. RIP Star Trek. I won’t be wasting any more money participating in fannish activities that would force me to acknowledge this horribly flawed film.

Star Trek by the Minute – Read the Comments too!

Slowly reading through Star Trek by the Minute. I’m savoring, don’t rush me. I’m also taking the time to read the comments for the separate posts. Like this one, from 063.

Of course, as we all know, the amount of time it seems to take and the ability of the transporter to beam a person in crisis at all is governed by a formula that takes into account (a) the needs of the writers at that moment and (b) whether the person being beamed is a regular character or a guest, and (c) whether said person is wearing red.

Priceless insight. That’s what that is. The writer has his own blog, Star Trek Musings, full of insights like the above. Check out Tribble Trouble, see if that doesn’t skew you thinking on the subject.

Comments on Star Trek by the Minute

What follows is a record of my comments on and conversations with the author for Structured Dream and his posts for Star Trek by the Minute

Star Trek by the Minute 022: Leap Without Looking

R. Anthony Steele said…
I always saw that scene with Scott and his nephew as Scotty’s throwing the cost of avoidable battle in Kirk’s face. It’s possible he expected Bones to be on the bridge, since that is where he seems to spend most of his time on the show.

In any case, while WOK is one of my favorites, I don’t consider it to be exactly ‘canon’. None of the films really work in the context of the original show (except the first one) since they are all products of the writer/producer/director team makes them.

Having said that, I have to say that I no longer consider myself a Trekkie or a Star Trek fan, after this last film. It’s dead for me now. I can’t think of anything that could have been more of a betrayal of the Trek that I followed and loved than this latest film is.

I have enjoyed every minute of the review that I’ve read so far. Thanks for writing it, it has saved me the pain of doing it myself, as I pointed out on my blog.

RAnt(hony)-ings – Star Trek

March 14, 2010 12:19 AM


BurntSynapse said…

Thanks for the feedback and the links, Anthony. You’re the type of fan I’m trying to reach, and I enjoyed your Abramination posts. I would like to read your TrekBBS posts; Are they accessible?

March 14, 2010 7:35 AM


R. Anthony Steele said…

if you go into the interface and do a search for ‘ranthony’ you should get all my posts in a list.

There’s really not much there, if I remember correctly. I reposted the RIP blog post, and was looking for feedback (it’s still there, in the closed thread) and then was attacked, repeatedly, for daring to ask where my posts went, and for not liking the film.

It’s funny. I used to run a Trek fanclub. When I see my former club members, almost all of them *love* the film. When they find out I don’t, the questions begin, and it almost follows a script.

“Loved the action” Yep, it was great.
“Loved the actors” Yep, they were great. They clearly all had respect for the characters they were portraying, and they did good jobs with what they were given.
“So, what don’t you like?” EVERYTHING else. A story would have been nice. Some science would have been good too (red matter. It would be funny, if it wasn’t in a Trek film) REAL FEMALE CHARACTERS sort of tops my charts of complaints. Where are they in this film?

I have a theory, and I wish I had the money and permission to give this a try. Take STV, and remove every special effects scene. Rework it with state of the art effects, and the budget this film had. I think it would be every bit the seller this film was. And it would be a real Trek film, to boot.

That film was thrown to Shatner as a bone, and the studio never got behind it. But it has some of the best scenes with classic characters interacting. There are some really bad scenes (the birth sequence, as someone else noted, is horrible) but mostly it suffered from a lack of a real effects budget. Compare the comic moments between the two films. I don’t see the difference.

…and yet STV is routinely panned as the worst film. Why? Because of the laughable effects, IMO.

Anyway, thanks for reading my linked posts.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 5:33 PM

Star Trek by the Minute 025 Safety Belts

R. Anthony Steele said…

The bike sequence is the moment in the film when I could no longer suspend disbelief. The antique car at the beginning, far fetched as that sequence was, was an artifact of the past.

Kirk’s bike is a tool of the modern age, and it has wheels, which is completely outside of the trek universe (It’s also why Nemesis doesn’t make it as a trek film, btw) and it’s appearance pulled me right out of the film. So much so that I couldn’t even enjoy the grand entrance of the under construction Enterprise.

The ‘giving away things’ comment in the novelization is probably a wrong-headed attempt to incorporate the (poorly conceived) notion of money and property in the ST universe that previous screen writers have failed to communicate in their own right.

They would have had to have some grounding in philosophy, money and ethics in order to understand it themselves, much less communicate it to others.

As you pointed out, the film addresses none of this, doing even less (if that’s possible) to incorporate past conceptions of Trek into the story.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 5:36 PM
Star Trek by the Minute 027 Three Years?

R. Anthony Steele said…
Glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed this. That was the first thing in my mind. Maybe they invented some Red Dwarf type games to pass the time. Soap suds slalom down the cargo ramp, perhaps.

Still, they aren’t the last Romulans alive, and they traveled to this time period to change the timeline. Why not just go to Romulus and CHANGE IT. Just a thought.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 6:10 PM

Star Trek by the Minute 031 Cheating to Win?

R. Anthony Steele said…
It’s been my opinion, since the announcement of this film, that this scene was the reason for setting the film as a prequel.

It should have been the shining moment in the film. I kept thinking how much I hated that smug bastard in the Captain’s chair.

Funny, I never felt that way about Shatner’s performances.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 6:37 PM

The Abramanation, Dissected

Got this in the mail last summer, when the Abramanation was heading to theaters;

From: forums@trekbbs.com
Date: Sat, May 9, 2009 at 4:44 AM
Subject: Seen the new Trek movie yet?
To: ranthonysteele@gmail.com

As soon as you’ve seen the new movie, be sure to drop by the Trek BBS and discuss what you thought.

Loved the Enterprise? Hated Spock? What do you want to see in the next movie? Whatever your opinions, discuss them with other fans.

Visit us at http://www.trekbbs.com

Your username is RAnthony.

Check out the dedicated ‘Star Trek IX’ forum, or find out the latest news at http://www.trektoday.com

See you soon!

Trek BBS

I had my reservations about the film, but I went to see it with an open mind. After seeing it, I wrote Star Trek 1966-2009, RIP. I was attempting to be objective in my criticism of the film, while at the same time expressing my sense of betrayal of everything Trek that the film represents. When I posted my review at TrekBBS, it was promptly roundfiled in a closed thread, because ‘There were too many negative threads being created’, even though they had specifically invited me to come there and post.

When I dared to object to the treatment my posts were receiving, I was basically driven from the board by attack after attack, demanding that I substantiate my views in greater depth (go figure, this is the reason I don’t do BBS’ much anymore. The discussions always run this way) something that I had intended to do at the time. I am certain that the film is a betrayal of Roddenberry and of Science Fiction as a genre, and all it would take is time and a few blog posts to cover it.

Life got in the way, though.

Luckily for me, I’m not alone in my convictions. I was alerted to an ongoing work over at Structured Dream that the author is titling Star Trek by the Minute. Where he finds the time to dedicate to this project is beyond me (betting he doesn’t play WoW) but I’m enjoying every minute of his review in a way that the Abramanation could never dream of achieving.

Here’s a quote:

I don’t want to be petty and nitpick, especially a Trek film – rather I want to get swept away by a great story to a place I’ve never been on a grand adventure. But when there’s no sensibility, no consistency, and the plot is advanced without plausible cause and effect events in a narrative believable for the universe in which it is set, one feels somehow insulted by the film. This feeling persists regardless of how pretty the actors, how grand the music, and how good the special effects look. In fact, better production highlights defects, placing them in sharp contrast to the great quality of the presentation.

Point after point, minute after minute, I find myself laughing, agreeing with and liking this guy more and more. Thanks to him, I can go back to playing WoW.

Star Trek, 1966-2009, R.I.P.

For the record, I should have stuck to my guns. But I didn’t. I caught J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek (from here on out to be known as the Abramanation, for brevity’s sake) a few days back. By the time it was over, I knew that the universe had changed.

Abrams said he was creating a film that was entertaining, and true to his word, it is. From the initial scenes of the massive Romulan ship appearing and spawning an alternate timeline (this is not a spoiler, this happens two minutes into the film. Spoilers ahead though, be warned) when it engages in a fierce battle with a clearly more archaic Federation vessel, to the final scenes with a triumphant Captain James T. Kirk at the helm of his (way too shiny) Enterprise, this blockbuster is most definitely entertaining.

It’s just not Star Trek.

A good portion of the audience applauded at the end of the film. The group I went with all enjoyed it (ages 10, 18 and 55. Definitely the target audience) I even found myself enjoying it. But just as the re-launch of Lost in Space (the film I was most reminded of viewing this one) redefined (in a good way, in my opinion) what Lost in Space was about, the Abramanation has redefined what Star Trek is about, and something significant has been lost in translation.

It isn’t a problem with the cast, they all performed admirably. It isn’t a problem with the dialog, a good portion of which seemed to be lifted word for word from previous episodes and movies. I think the problem is that Star Trek has always been more than just entertainment to me (no matter how many times I repeated the mantra “it’s just entertainment, don’t take it seriously”) and to see it “dumbed down” to the level of blockbuster entertainment (a process started several films ago) leaves me feeling a bit hollow.

I find myself at a loss now. Unlike many fans, I’m not insulted by the content of the film. I just can’t grasp what it is that the vast majority of the fans and viewing public see in the film. It’s first weekend returns exceeded all other Star Trek films to date, even adjusted for inflation.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979): $11,926,421 (opening weekend)/ $82,258,456 (cume)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982): $14,347,221 / $78,737,310
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984): $16,673,229 / $76,389,860
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986): $16,881,888 / $109,713,132
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989): $17,375,648 / $52,210,049
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991): $18,162,837 / $74,888,996
Star Trek: Generations (1994): $23,116,394 / $75,671,125
Star Trek: First Contact (1996): $30,716,131 / $92,027,888
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998): $22,052,836 / $70,187,658
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002): $18,513,305 / $43,126,129

Adjusted for inflation:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979): $34,668,706 (opening weekend)/ $239,115,674 (cume)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982): $35,038,451 / $192,290,437
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984): $35,629,102 / $163,237,856
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986): $32,671,686 / $212,328,919
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989): $31,267,457 / $93,951,918
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991): $30,976,050 / $127,720,425
Star Trek: Generations (1994): $39,707,107 / $129,980,545
Star Trek: First Contact (1996): $49,896,339 / $149,493,266
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998): $33,761,058 / $107,451,468
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002): $22,918,195 / $53,387,173

(numbers compiled by Daniel Garris)

(From Boxoffice: The History of ‘Trek’)

I’ve read dozens of posts in support of the film on Trekbbs. Fans are dragging their friends out to watch it; in much the same fashion as if the average American needs to be convinced to chew bubblegum. The Abramanation is bubblegum. I don’t see the point in promoting bubblegum; people will chew it anyway.

No, I don’t like the film. If you really want to know why read through…

!Spoiler Alert!

Paramount finally gets it’s way and removes those pesky Vulcans that are so hard to understand and write for (logic, what’s that?) by having Vulcan destroyed by an artificially generated black hole (the explanation for which would be technobabble, had they only attempted to explain it) thus insuring that the only Vulcan they will have to write parts for in the future is the half-Vulcan Mr. Spock, who seems to have a lot more trouble restraining emotion in this universe.

Uhura in essence sleeps her way onto the bridge of the Enterprise by having a relationship with Mr. Spock, who is not only one of her professors, but also a superior officer. The moral issues of this arrangement are never questioned, leading me to wonder if we haven’t somehow stumbled into the Mirror, Mirror universe (Sylar, is that you?) where that type of behavior is run of the mill.

James T. Kirk becomes captain of the Enterprise largely influenced by the career of his father. In this alternate timeline, the now fatherless Kirk (dad being killed in the opening sequence of the film. The com conversation between the two parents, as George Kirk is about to be killed, being one of the silliest parts of the film) still becomes captain of the Enterprise; proving the modern belief that fathers are irrelevant in the scheme of things, and can be disposed of with no ill effects for any required plot device.

Then there’s the running gag of Bones McCoy infecting the recently reprimanded Kirk with a mock disease in order to smuggle him on the Enterprise. This leads to a subsequent series of injections in order to cure him of humorous side effects. Or the transwarp beaming accident that leaves the recently found Scotty floating in engine coolant until conveniently rescued by Kirk through an inexplicably placed access hatch in the coolant tube. both situations so clearly contrived as to almost be cringe-level uncomfortable for me.

I could go on, but I won’t.

!End Spoiler Alert!

I can’t help but wonder what Leonard Nimoy (whom I will hold blameless) saw in this film to recommend his tacit approval and his venerable image to it. Spock prime stands in sharp contrast to the new cast, carrying with him into history a mantle of respect this revisioined Star Trek will never achieve. Because unlike Star Trek and it’s 42 years of history, the Abramanation is just entertainment.

With this film, Paramount can pat itself on the back for finally successfully milking this franchise the way it wanted to when the property was acquired with Desilu Productions. Like so many entertainment properties (Lost in Space, the Brady Bunch, Bewitched, the Flintstones, etc.) before it, sucked dry of nostalgia dollars, Star Trek can be safely shelved in long term storage, probably never to be heard from again.

If there is any mercy in this Mirror, Mirror universe, it won’t be. Rest In Peace Star Trek. Say hi to Gene for me.