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Star Trek: Beyond, a fitting 50th tribute

In Entertainment, Media, Movies, Opinion, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on August 8, 2016 at 9:14 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOIn 2009, Paramount Pictures released “Star Trek,” a modern, big screen, retelling of the classic science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry. Directed by J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), the film offered fans an alternate beginning to the life of Captain James T. Kirk, played by Chris Pine.

Abrams’ take on nearly a half-century of Trek lore angered a good portion of the fan base. In this first foray into Trekkie land, he managed to hit the delete key on some very important story canon. And, just to make the point that he could do whatever he wanted with the franchise, in the second film, Star Trek: Into Darkness, he did it again.

This time, he brought back Khan (played by “Sherlock’s” Benedict Cumberbatch), Kirk’s nemesis from the original series and again in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Since the origins of Kirk and company were altered, the Enterprise didn’t stumble upon Khan’s derelict spacecraft as it did originally, but ended up fighting him anyway thanks to a power-mad Starfleet admiral.

Once again, fans reeled. As a fan myself, my opinion is that it was a terrible film. It was a bad copy of the first Star Trek II (now that’s not confusing is it?). So where would they boldy go next? Well, fortunately, with Abrams having been snatched up by Disney to take over the Star Wars world, they needed new leadership.

When the first Abrams Trek was released, I had the privilege of reviewing it for my hometown newspaper. While I enjoyed the film, I, like many of my fellow fans, found it lacking a “Star Trek” feel. It was more action and less “human.” I could live with the alternate universe concept, after all, it’s “Star Trek” and you can do anything you want with it. But the complete disregard for the character-driven humanity that Roddenberry injected into the franchise in favor of a nauseating level of lens flare and CGI effects was a bit much for me.

Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) in Star Trek: Beyond   Photo Courtesy MovieWeb.

Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) in Star Trek: Beyond Photo Courtesy MovieWeb.

This summer, Paramount released the third in the alternate Trek series, “Star Trek: Beyond.” And, in my humble opinion as a lifelong fan, this time they got it right. Co-written by Simon Pegg, who plays “Scotty” in the films, “Beyond” offers more of what “Star Trek” is famous for – the human struggle to achieve and make a difference.

With numerous nods to the original by way of images, original series dialogue and character interactions, “Beyond” is the first in this series to make this fan actually want to see it again – and again. It’s just a fun movie. It’s “Star Trek” again, well, almost.

As good as it is, “Star Trek: Beyond” still lacks something, but we can’t have Shatner and Nimoy back on the bridge. Nor can we go home to the comfortable captain’s chairs of the 1980s feature films. But, with a fourth film already given a green light and a new TV series set for streaming video in 2017, “Star Trek” may have finally found its second wind.

I’m still in favor of J.J. keeping his director’s chair over at Lucasfilm and staying away from the Starfleet world indefinitely. He just doesn’t get it. Not that I really think he gets “Star Wars” either, but I don’t care as much about that.

To me, “Star Trek” is not space fantasy, but science fiction in the best sense. It offers a positive vision of our future and suggests that we can be better people, that humanity is worth saving and any film or TV versions from here on should perpetuate that concept

With the passing last year of Leonard Nimoy (Spock prime) and the recent tragic death of Anton Yelchin (Checkov), this film could have been a painful reminder of loss. Fortunately, “Star Trek: Beyond” is a wonderful tribute to original Enterprise crew, all of whom get a quick photographic cameo, and it’s a fitting celebration of Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary. I’ll be seeing it again for sure, and so should you. Live long, and prosper.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.

 

 

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Why I’m done with Star Wars.

In Entertainment, Holiday, Media, Movies, National News, Opinion, Uncategorized on December 28, 2015 at 9:58 am

 

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOIf you’re a die-hard Star Wars fan, you’re not going to like what you’re about to read and that’s OK with me. If you haven’t seen Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, you should probably stop reading right now because I will be giving away some major spoilers, and, subsequently the main reasons I’m done with the franchise.

I’ve been a lifelong Star Wars fan and it was always a part of my personal pop culture, just as it was for millions of others. But, The Force Awakens was so tragically disappointing that it has ended my interest in any future Star Wars movies with director J.J. Abrams at the helm.

In 2009, Abrams did little to endear himself to fans of CBS Paramount’s Star Trek franchise when he tossed the half-century-long story canon established by Gene Roddenberry in favor of his “alternate universe.”

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Gery’s 1978 Millennium Falcon toy space ship with a couple of the action figures from the 90s. Gery sold off a great portion of a vast 1970s era collection in 2005.

But, for Star Wars, I was willing to give him a chance and hold my opinions until seeing the movie. Sadly, my worst fears were realized and I simply do not understand why any true Star Wars fan likes this film.

However overblown the hype and merchandising, this “new” story is little more than a mashed up repeat of the original trilogy into one movie. At its core, The Force Awakens is the story of a wannabe Lightsaber jockey seduced by the dark side who adopts a Vader-esque breath mask and sets out to hunt down former teacher, Luke Skywalker.

His evil cohorts have build a space station (that looks like a moon) and blow up some important planets before being destroyed by a spunky pilot and his adorable robot. Does any of this seem familiar yet?

But wait, there’s more! The worst part of the story is that the bad guy is the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia and isn’t much more than a whining, 20-something, Darth Vader fan boy with daddy issues. He doesn’t even need the mask, popping off regularly throughout the movie!

Near the end of the film, he confronts Solo on a bridge and kills him to prove to his master how “evil” he has become. And that’s just about when I nearly walked out on this film. Killing off a beloved, long-lived character should be purposeful and respectful. Abrams’ blatant “murder” of Han Solo was anything but either. The word that comes to mind to describe it is, pointless.

As a writer, it’s hard for me to accept that a character like Solo was written to have survived everything we saw in the first three films just to be murdered in a moment of gullibility.

Rumor has it that this was the only way actor Harrison Ford would agree to return to Star Wars. If that’s the case, then the character’s death should have had meaning. But it didn’t.

Sadly, some great performances by the new cast, including the female lead, are overshadowed by the retread story line. I’m well aware that more than $1 billion in box office returns – not to mention a flurry of media praise – do not support my conclusions. But it won’t be the first time good box office returns had no real relationship to the quality of a film.

Personally, I believe this film travesty is just a way for director Abrams to leverage his control over Star Wars. He simply punched the fans in the face to reinforce that this is now his property and it will go how he wants it, fans and good writing not withstanding. But, money talks so you’re likely stuck with him for a while.

As talented as he may be, J.J. Abrams will never be a George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. No amount of lens flare will make up for the fact that he simply doesn’t care about these stories, the characters, or, more importantly, the fans.

All we can do is hope no one lets Abrams anywhere near Indiana Jones. Now excuse me, I need to go put the rest of my Star Wars collection on eBay. May the Force be with you.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com