A few months ago, Paramount and Warner Bros. both sorta managed to piss me off simultaneously (and at the same time) by moving the release dates for Star Trek and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to next year. This really bothers me, because I am fat and spoiled.
Um… anyway, there’s trailers for Trek and Harry now. Watch ’em, and read my nonsensical rambling commentary below the jump.
You can see the Star Trek trailer (featuring New Kirk and New Spock) if you go see Quantum of Solace this weekend, like this guy with a sneaky video camera did.
Here’s the thing: I never saw Cloverfield, and I only caught one episode of Alias. However, we all know how I feel about Lost, so I have faith in J.J. Abrahm’s ability to create Trekkie awesomeness here. Star Trek’s needed a shot in the arm since… well, let’s face it, since about the sixth season of Deep Space Nine.
I’m not gonna talk smack about The Next Generation – I can’t talk smack about The Next Generation any more than I would talk smack about the 1988 Boston Red Sox, 4C Iced Tea mix, or Montezuma’s Revenge for the Atari 800. All four of those things were such integral parts of my childhood, and all four of those things hold up to further scrutiny. Even the ’88 Sox, who had the misfortune of facing the Oakland A’s in the ALCS back when Jose Canseco and Mark McGuire were giving grown men nightmares.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, if you go back and watch it now, is a solid damn show, with occasional moments of sheer genius (six words: “Mr. Worf, fire!” – To Be Continued, and if you were there, man, you know what I’m talkin’ bout.)
Problem with Star Trek, though – and this unfortunately goes back to the days of Roddenbury – is that it’s based on this idea that, in the future, everyone more or less gets along. Not the bad guys, mind you – we can still have nasty arguments and fist fights with ugly looking aliens – but everyone on the crew pretty much likes each other. This might be a wonderful vision of a utopian future, but it sucks in terms of dramatic tension.
Case in point: Star Trek – Voyager. The set-up of Voyager is genius – little Federation starship gets trapped in a remote part of space along with the crew of roguish space rebels, and the crews have to set aside their differences to make it home. Brilliant set up. Bet there’s gonna be lots of inter-crew backbiting and a really interesting dynamic between the uptight Starfleet types and those Maquis punks. That’s a great idea for a show. You know how long it takes for them to set aside their differences and work together? You want to know how long that idea lasted? About an hour.
After they team up, they float around encountering boring space things and blowing up their own ship in boring ways and whining about how they’re never going to get home. That show lasted for seven years. And don’t get me started on Seven of Nine.
Star Trek: Enterprise, whatever else you want to say about it, at least had the common decency to give us characters who didn’t necessarily get along to begin with, but who grew and developed as the show progressed. No one liked T’Pol and T’Pol didn’t like no one, but eventually things thawed and her and Trip were makin’ babies. Archer went from moony-eyed rocketman to hardened space-warrior after the bad guys stepped up their game in season three. If anything was wrong with Enterprise, it’s that it was a little too self-conscious about the flaws of some of the previous Trek shows, and wasn’t quite cool enough to pull off a full re-invention. Dammit, I wanted Buffy in space.
I’m not saying the Star Trek film is going to do that, but at least it looks like a fresh start – a completely new take on the ethos rather than the same old, playing-it-safe, tapioca. Don’t get me wrong – The Next Generation and most of DS9 are more like butterscotch with crumbly Heath Bar. Oh, and Sylar plays Spock, Shaun of the Dead plays Scotty, and Harold plays Sulu. The universe is in good hands.
Then there’s Harry Potter.
Is it just me, or are these movies getting… not just darker, but less well-lit? If you turn up the contrast on your monitor, you might be able to pick out Harry and co. among all the swirling green.
Half-Blood Prince is my favorite Harry Potter book, and no one agrees with me. That’s cool, I get to have it all to myself. I love the Voldemort backstory, I love the idea that ones own memories can be manipulated and used to deceive oneself and others (Slughorn’s a fascinating dude), and the part where Harry makes Dumbledore drink the potion near the end is really frightening. Psychologically frightening. Not-a-kids-book frightening.
Supposedly, they delayed this one so they could tweak it a bit. Good, because I was wondering how they’d make this one work on film. The plot is, basically, Harry watching other people’s memories, and while a lot of interesting stuff happens in those memories, Harry himself doesn’t actually do an awful lot. Ron makes out with some random girl a lot and annoys Hermione (which is always good for a laugh), but Harry mostly observes here. He’s the one we’re following, and this is the book where he pauses and lets things sink in (at least until the very end, when things go horribly wrong.)
So, yeah – it’s basically The Perks of Being The Boy Who Lived. That ain’t a bad thing, though, and the movie looks pretty.
Looking forward to the horrible, horrible future.