The new J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot squanders the best character from the original 1960s series argues webmaster James O’Ehley . . .

About a week after having seen an early screening of Lost supremo J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot in which younger actors get to play the now iconic Starship Enterprise crew of Kirk, Scotty, Spock, et al did I realise why I wasn’t as crazy about the movie as many others who have also seen it were.

After all, here is a fast-paced action-packed movie that sucks one immediately into the action right until the end with some unexpected humorous touches along the way. It is nowhere as staid as the old series or even the previous big screen movies for that matter. To complain about it one simply comes across as the fanatical “J.J. Abrams raped my childhood” type whom William Shatner once (in)famously said should get a life. And heck! I don’t even own all the Trek episodes on disc or anything like that, even though I do have some fond memories of watching the show in syndication as an 11-year-old kid back in 1978. Everyone else loves this movie, so what is my problem then?

It was while watching the four episodes from the ‘Sixties TV series contained on the new Best of Star Trek: The Original Series DVD release (Paramount, US$9.99) that I finally put my finger on what bugged me about Abrams’ Trek. It wasn’t because I was being nostalgic for the old crew as I wrote in my original review (“People grow old. They die. Deal with it,” a fellow critic told me). No, it was because they made a mess of Trek’s most intriguing character . . .

"Wanting to be Spock is a nerdy power fantasy!"

When trailers for Abrams’ Star Trek first hit the web there was an outcry from old Trek fans who immediately gasped “Anakin Skywalker!” at the sight of a young Chris Pine as James T. Kirk (originally played by William Shatner in his own inimical style). This Kirk has been reinvented as a young Rebel Without a Cause who drunkenly picks fights in bars and trashes his stepfather’s antique sports car during a joyride. But ultimately Chris Pine’s interpretation of Kirk isn’t the biggest problem in Star Trek. After all, he comes across as merely bland as opposed to obnoxious and annoying as Hayden Christensen was in the Star Wars prequels. No, my problem lies with Zachary Quinto’s interpretation of Spock.

What!? You didn’t think that Kirk is the most intriguing character in the original Trek now did you? As any self-respecting 11-year-old boy will tell you: it is the exotic-looking Spock who grabs the attention. Kirk may win the fistfights and get the girl, but what preadolescent wouldn’t want to be Spock in the same way they would want to be Superman or Spider-man? After all, Spock also won the fights (he had that whole cool Vulcan neck pinch thing going) and he always had an answer for everything. Spock was always cool, calm and collected. (Except during Vulcan mating season. See the Season 2 episode Amok Time. But hey, who doesn’t lose it then?) So what if Spock didn’t get the girl? Who cares about girls at age eleven?

Sure, wanting to be Spock is a nerdy power fantasy: the nerd as being both very clever at science and maths as well as holding his own in schoolyard altercations - and he doesn’t even need no stinking girls! But there is also something very masculine in the way that Spock contains and bottles his emotions. Real boys don’t cry, and Spock’s emotional response to anything would be to quizzically raise his eyebrow and saying “that is not logical, Jim.” (Leonard Nimoy is at least one of two actors who made a career solely out of their eyebrows! The other of course being Roger Moore in his 1970s run as James Bond, another Gen X childhood icon).


Next: "Quinto’s Spock is more like Bruce Banner, ready to Hulk out at the slightest provocation!"




blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).