Attack of the Clones and Star Trek: Nemesis

Here’s a question. Why aren’t Star Trek films an event the way summer and Christmas blockbusters are? Is it because they don’t get the coverage in the media–Premiere, Variety, Entertainment Weekly, and that ilk? Is it because a film about Jean-Luc Picard and his gang of goons is basically the same thing as the other 180 hours of Next Generation television and film? Is it something else entirely?

I admit that I’m mystified as to why Nemesis had such a poor box-office showing. Maybe the film-going market has changed. Maybe Star Trek fandom has changed. Maybe the films need to be something completely unlike the Star Trek we’ve seen on television. (And perhaps even R-rated, for sex and violence.) Or maybe not. I don’t have the answers. I don’t understand the questions.

What prompts these musings? On Lloyd wrote:

If the producers of the Star Trek franchise truly want to make another crowd pleaser of a film they should take some hints from George Lucas. They have got to put more money into the films to show the depth of each alien world the Enterprise visits. Look at the production that is put into any Star Wars movie. The scenes look like they could actually be from another world.

I’d rather take measured character drama over excessive eye-candy any day, thank you very much.

You don’t need kick-ass special effects to tell a good story. (Witness Doctor Who.) And what I don’t think Lucas realizes with his Star Wars prequels is that the special effects overwhelm the story he’s trying to tell. Basically, Attack of the Clones looks like a giant tech demo. It’s great to have the technology, but Lucas seems to say that the tech is the whole point of the exercise, when really the point of the exercise is to entertain.

Contrast the Star Wars prequels to the Lord of the Rings films. Jackson uses a lot of special effects, true, but they don’t overwhelm the story he’s telling. (It also helps that Jackson has source material that he’s working from, while it has grown increasingly obvious that Lucas is making the shit up as he goes.) WETA’s model work looks authentic, while ILM’s CGI looks fake. And Gollum, who is a CGI model, kicks the CGI Yoda’s ass any day.

The music is much more powerful.

I thought the Nemesis score was phoned-in, myself. But then, even John Williams has his off days (witness the Harry Potter scores).

A lot of aliens are part of the new worlds that are in the galaxy. The films can’t face the cost cutting and still be viable in today’s market. Expectations are a lot higher now for a
Star Trek film. As much as I liked Nemesis it failed because it didn’t bring us anything different.

In what way are expectations higher?

You can say
Star Trek is about the characters and relationships; however you have to put them in a universe that stands up to a feature film treatment. It can’t be a TV movie for the big screen. You have to admit any one of the Next Generation films could have been done as two part TV episode.

I don’t think Star Trek films are dead. I think Harve Bennett has the right idea in wanting to pitch the “Starfleet Academy” film again. Or maybe a Captain Pike film. ๐Ÿ˜‰

First, there’s no reason why Pike’s Enterprise would have to look more up-to-date than Kirk’s Enterprise. Why reinvent the wheel?

Second, like Cochrane, Pike is a character we’ve seen only once in Star Trek. Audiences accepted Cromwell as Cochrane. Audiences would accept an actor in the Pike role, even if he doesn’t look much like Jeffrey Hunter. (It’s recasting Spock that would, I think, hold the most peril. Six or seven years ago I’d have said Robert Sean Leonard, but now I don’t know who I’d cast.)

Third, the complaints about First Contact‘s casting and Enterprise‘s tech have been confined largely to the Internet. Paramount wants a broader audience, and I really feel that the Internet audience is just a fraction of the Star Trek audience. It’s the hard-core fans on-line, not the casual fans that can make or break a film.

Pike is the way to go for Trek‘s future on the silver screen. ๐Ÿ™‚

We’ll see Star Trek on the big screen again. Maybe Nemesis is Star Trek‘s Licence to Kill, and in several years we’ll have our Goldeneye. And that’s an encouraging thought. ๐Ÿ™‚

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