I Guess I’ll Talk About This Thing Everybody’s Probably Talking About

25 Jan

I’m sneering about J.J. Abrams.

I’m sneering because he’s going to direct the next Star Wars, I guess.  I have a lot of issues with this:

Concern A:  What is the next Star Wars even going to be about?  Will new actors play the old characters?  Will the new movies follow a particular set of extended-universe novels?  Will anyone care?

Surely someone smart somewhere has said that a film is only as good as its villain.  Who’s going to be better than Darth Vader?  That is, who’s going to be better than Darth Vader was before the prequels came along and made him a complete lame ass?

I’m sure a lot of stuff could happen in the Star Wars universe, but as much as I loved those movies when I was a kid, I don’t think I care at all anymore.  Every time I think about Luke and Han and everybody, I then think about garish early 2000s CGI and wooden acting and bad dialogue taking the wind out of the sails of intrigue and grit.

Prequels that are different from the other thing don’t have to be all bad.  I’m watching Caprica right now, and while it doesn’t really satisfy me as something belonging to the same universe as Battlestar Galactica, I don’t hate it.  I actually like it as its own show, and I like the characters for who they are in their own show, and I like the idea of it.  I kind of think of it as really good fan fiction, where it’s not exactly canon, but it’s fun to think about anyway.

The Star Wars prequels aren’t that way for me.  I think of them as awful fan fiction that is actually canon, and it makes me want to strangle one of my favorite villains.  Instead of loving to hate him, I find myself hating to hate him and hating to love him, and hating to love him.  Basically all hate.

So here we are at some more sequels.  I’m hearing that it might be a reboot?  Why?  How do you get grittier than A New Hope?  Or flashier than The Phantom Menace?  Those are the two ways reboots occur, and neither of them makes any sense to the franchise.  Maybe it will be something in between gritty and flashy like Alias.  So we’ll have a bunch of fast-talking d-bags with a lot of drama at home?

Concern B:  I’m the kind of nerd who loves both Star Trek and Star Wars.  I love them both for their characters and their stories and their technobabble.  But I also love them both for their respective moods.

Star Wars–the original trilogy, of course–feels like a western, with gamblers and outlaws and wayward boys coming of age and crazy old coots in the desert and crazy old coots in the swamp and tall men in black suits trying to take away people’s land.  There’s something just raw and adventurous about the feeling of the original Star Wars trilogy.  Something familiar, but something exciting.

Star Trek feels like…well, it feels like Star Trek.  It’s got philosophy and utopian societies and fantastic technologies, but it’s also got just downright silliness.  Mirror universes with bearded Spock!  Janeway running around fighting gigantic CGI -viruses!  Data and Wesley! Star Trek is just such good-natured fun a lot of the time–exploring for exploring’s sake and being silly with the crew along the way.

And here’s where we come to my second concern:  I liked Abrams’s first Star Trek movie as a stand-alone piece in the same way that I like Caprica.  I like it as really good fan fiction.  But I don’t consider it canon because it simply does not feel like Star Trek.  It’s so heavy.  It thinks it’s weighty, and it acts weighty.  The Romulans incinerate the planet Vulcan, and Spock cries and makes out with Uhuru for comfort.  Meanwhile, in real Star Trek land, B’elanna Torres is telling someone to get the cheese to sickbay.

So I just don’t know what Abrams is going to bring to the Star Wars table.

But I can tell you what I wish he’d brought to the Star Trek table:  Mirror Universe!  Why couldn’t he have done a whole trilogy set in Star Trek’s established mirror universe?  With evil versions of all our favorite Star Trek characters?  Then he could have messed with the mood all he wanted, and it would’ve made sense!

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