There was a lot of it between the end of Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005 and the next Human Adventure. For the first time since 1987, there were no Star Trek series or films in production. It was strange for a number of fans, though a large percentage of them realised that it was probably time for a quick respite. Franchise fatigue was pretty high.
So perhaps a break was exactly what was needed. But soon there were rumours of a new film, a new cast, and a new way to look at what had boldly gone before. Before things even went into production these new films had their detractors, whether it was simply a dislike for the creative team, or just a need to complain about how this Trek couldn’t be like any old Trek (the same thing happened when The Next Generation was first announced).
I was always of the belief to give things a fair shake, and was eager to see how things played out. And while 2009’s Star Trek is not much beyond a Trek-ified popcorn feature, there are things I enjoy about it, and because it’s set in an alternate timeline it doesn’t have to mess with the beloved Prime Universe, and people can take or leave it as they please. Though I do agree the bridge does look a little like a suped up Apple Store.
I will say this, whether the films worked or not, and I personally enjoyed them, though of the trilogy, Into Darkness (2013) was easily the worst for its poorly kept reveals, and the unneeded rip-off of The Wrath of Khan, arguably the best of the cinematic adventures of the original crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the casting was bang on.
Chris Pine takes on the role of James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto is Spock, Karl Urban is eerily perfect as McCoy, Simon Pegg is Scotty, Zoe Saldana is Uhura (who is finally given more to do), John Cho is Sulu, and Anton Yelchin is wonderful as Chekov.
The first film sets up the new universe by creating a new timeline springing up around the U.S.S. Kelvin and its encounter with a Romulan mining ship that got thrown back in time following the destruction of the Romulan star, something Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy) was attempting to stop.
From there we leap off into a big-budget take on the Human Adventure, the first film brings the crew together, and sets up Kirk’s command of the new U.S.S. Enterprise. The film races along, filled with lots of set pieces and action beats that may not be classic Trek, but is apparently the new 21st century version.
And while there are still human moments, as well as examinations of the human experience, it’s mainly a big budget adventure. Something that is repeated in the second film, along with the introduction of this universe’s version of Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch). The film steals from its 1982 counterpart, sometimes with no more reason than to have the writers point at the screen and say, “See it’s the same, but different!”
The third film, directed by Justin Lin, taking over from J.J. Abrams who directed the first two gives us a film that is closer in spirit and storytelling style to The Original Series than either of the other two films in the Kelvin timeline. It also featured Idris Elba as a villain!
All three films performed fairly well at the box office, considering Star Trek has always been a tough sell to anyone who isn’t a fan, and gained fairly solid reviews, with the hardcore fans being the greatest detractors.
I get that some people may not be fans of these films, I enjoyed them for what they were, popcorn versions of Star Trek, which in itself is a manner of embracing the IDIC philosophy – infinite diversity in infinite combinations. It may not be your Trek, it may be your friend’s Trek, your child’s Trek, but it’s someone’s Trek, and it can serve as a gateway to so much more Trek.
Then even as Beyond (2016) was coming to screens there were rumours of a new series coming to television in the very near future. There would be weekly adventures again, on the format that has always served Trek best. What would it be about? Where? When would we go?
It was coming though… And that would allow the Human Adventure to boldly go….