new J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot squanders the best
character from the original 1960s series argues scifimoviepage.com
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
Spock is more like Bruce Banner, ready to Hulk out at the slightest