It’s looking to be an intriguing year for Trekkies when the newest Star Trek film is released. One thing I’ve always admired about Trekkies, and being one myself, is that there’s a resolute sense of solidarity between us. Unlike Star Wars, which prompts leagues of arguments between the different sects of fandom over which trilogy is better. (Original obviously, but there are those out there who beg to differ.) Comparatively, Trekkies have never had this problem. If you were a Trek fan, you could go out there, wear your communicator badge and everyone would get it, love it, and approve. There’s never been any real major sense of contention other than a friendly debate about which Captain is the best. Until recently it didn’t seem like there was much of a divide, up until the new JJ Abrams Star Trek films come into play.
Having recently attended a Trek convention, I got to see Walter Koenig himself speak on what it was like to see someone else play Chekov, and at the mere mention of the new Star Trek film there was a noticeable distaste for it amongst the crowd. Now this could be a case of fan loyalty to Koenig, but a similar thing happened when George Takei took the stage as well. While they both had nothing but great things to say about the new movie, it struck me as something new. This had never existed in the Trek fandom before, and I believe this new Star Trek movie is set to divide that fandom even further. Especially now that our first glimpse of the film is very… Explosioney? I’m tempted to say it’s even Michael Bay-esque? Judge for yourself here quickly:
Now when I watched it, I think two things:
#1.) Holy crap that looks intense as all get out.
#2.) That barely even looks like Star Trek.
Then again, that’s what I thought when I saw the trailer for the first Abram’s Star Trek film, so I’ll hold my reservations until I actually see it. However I can definitely see how hardcore TOS Trekkies could be put off by such a flashy trailer.
As for what I can glean from the trailer about the story is very minimal. I can mostly base my speculation on the tidbits we’ve previously heard about the movie. In particular that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing a new version of Gary Mitchell, the psionically gifted Man-God from the original series. If he truly is going to be Gary Mitchell, I’m at odds towards guessing what his motivation is for seeking “vengeance” as he claims to want in the trailer. It’s possible that they could entirely establish him as a new character, with his motivation and character arc fully in this one film. I’m trying to think of an event that the crew could be guilty of, that could warrant such anger and desire for revenge from the first film, but I’m unable.
It definitely looks like the story is taking place more on Earth this time, as there are plenty of shots of what looks to be future San Francisco, and that glimpse of a submerged Enterprise slowly rising from the ocean is certainly ominous, and equally matched by the shot of it crashing into the ocean at the end. If it really is Gary Mitchell we’re supposed to be considering as the villain Cumberbatch is playing, then there’s no real way to accurately guess what his end game is, other than the vengeance as he claims. I’m hoping that this film will set up the idea of the eugenics wars, or mention it in some way, so we get Khan for the second sequel. I would be absolutely shocked if they pulled a bait and switch with the whole Gary Mitchell thing, and revealed Cumberbatch was Khan though. I don’t think that’ll be it, because they seem to be setting up vengeance as a theme in the movies.
Nero wanted revenge against Spock, this Cumberbatch character wants vengeance as he’s said in the trailer, and Khan famously wanted vengeance against Kirk. It certainly seems like they’ve tried to edit the trailer in such a fashion so as to suggest it is Khan, but this makes me think it’s Gary Mitchell even more. An older article from AICN says that Karl Urban was in fact joking about Cumberbatch playing Mitchell. If you ask me, knowing how much JJ Abrams likes to play the eternal game of secrets with every movie project of his, that it’s a double bluff. Karl Urban might have genuinely misspoke, so they went and did damage control by having people report this as a “joke” taken too seriously. Making the trailer seem like Khan adds to that double bluff, in order to keep the identity of Cumberbatch’s character secret until the film actually releases. As for Cumberbatch, he’s spoken very little about what his role entails, but what little he’s said could easily apply to both Gary Mitchell or Khan. He’s basically playing the “morally ambiguous” card, by saying his character isn’t quite good, or quite evil. Anyone who’s familiar with Khan or Mitchell knows that arguments could be made for both not necessarily being evil per se.
If they’re not going for any direct storyline continuation, and are introducing a new villain, and making the film series more of a thematic continuation, I think that’s all hunky dory. 3 movies, 3 villains, no direct connections between them makes sense. It’d be bold to see a trilogy of films come out that are all basically stand alone movies that feature the same cast, episodically facing threats in each film. In fact, that’d be very appropriate for Star Trek, since that’s what the original films did anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to tie them all together, or do some fancy retcon to connect all 3 ala Dark Knight Rises, but if they did it wouldn’t be that bad really.
Altogether though, this teaser has done exactly what it set out to do, which is to get me and other Trekkies all guessing at what the hell is going on, who it is that’s doing all the destruction visible, and what’s going to happen to our favorite crew. In that regard, it’s a total success. Unfortunately I can see it also steering away some fans, but the final verdict will come when the movie hits theaters. Hopefully, it’ll be as awesome, new and yet as familiar as the first film.
And if it didn’t smart enough after seeing that first teaser trailer, for some reason there’s an extended japanese version that’s 10 seconds longer.
In those 10 seconds you get one more line and shot at the end, showing Kirk, as Cumberbatch’s voice says one last line that adds a weight and gravitas that almost changes the tone of the teaser entirely.
“Is there anything you would not do… for your family?”
What? Family? What family? His crew? Whose hand is that? What does he mean by family? God that sounds like Khan doesn’t it? Is it Khan? I’m so conflicted now, CRAP NUGGETS WHY CAN’T THIS COME OUT TOMORROW???