Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Endgame, the Good Things and Beyond


Ahhhh 1994 and 2001 are marked in your calendars aren't they?

That's because today, May 23rd, marks both the airing of The Next Generation's All Good Things... and Voyager's Endgame. If you're working out the passing of time it's 21 and 14 years respectively. My my, how time has flown and only a few weeks ago we were raising the flag to Enterprise's flawed finale episode These are the Voyages.

I'm a big admirer of All Good Things... and I'll be getting to Endgame in a few months time to close my Voyager rewatch (for those keeping track I'm hitting mid-season four and the magnificence of the Hirogen). The Voyager finale may not be the epic that The Next Generation managed but it still manages to bring the crew home even if that's only just as the titles roll. They also defeat the Borg which is nice.

I suspect that when I do reach Endgame I'm going to find it a lot more fulfilling and satisfying given the way I have chosen to revisit Voyager this year. I have some good memories of watching it on VHS as I had with All Good Things... and What You Leave Behind previously. Janeway did of course appear once more after the finale in Nemesis from 2003 and the saga of that little ship still rolls on today in the novel series currently under the guidance of Kristen Beyer with Atonement only a few months away.

Those two points marked closure on the TV exploits of two of Star Trek's three seven-season adventures and here we are now in some form of Star Trek renaissance perhaps. There are a ton of superb fan-made web-series which are at such a high level of production you;d be forgiven for thinking they were the "real" thing from a CBS studio and the convention circuit is still rampant for the cast and anyone associated with the franchise.

However.

There's always that shadow and it's Star Trek Beyond. I'm not making any earth-shattering announcements here about the title, the director or whom might be playing a baddie or a Klingon but I do want to discuss the writer.

Simon Pegg we know is on scribbling duty. No big secret and nor is the story over his opinions on current "nerd culture" or on how the script for Star Trek 3 is coming along but the worry we thought might have faded away with his involvement have come back but I don't think it's Pegg's fault at all.

From what I can understand Paramount want Star Trek to remain mainstream and steer clear of heading into the fan niche that might have accounted for its TV and cinematic demise in the early 2000's. JJ Abrams first two blockbusters proved that Star Trek could appeal to the larger non-Star Trek audience and retain the fan base and give us a blow-out action adventure in the space of about two hours. 

In fact we now know that Beyond will be less Star Trek-y because Paramount want to keep it earning big bucks and bridge the billion dollar gap between it and The Avengers which is the third biggest movie of all time. Seriously? That's a big mountain for Pegg and co to even attempt to climb and while a third outing penned by his hand will have more draw for fans of his writing, I just can't see the movie making that big a dent on the profits of such a movie mammoth.

I truly fear that making it less Trek-y will take us even further down the path which was prodded and exposed to some degree in Into Darkness. There was more action and adventure, more disregard to the franchise history and exceptionally liberal mining of the script from The Wrath of Khan. Now I don't believe Pegg will homage-slaughter Beyond  and if there are nods they will be better handled but are we expecting too much and is the studio asking too much?

Probably yes. Not only does Simon Pegg need to write something which mends the bad feeling of Khan and his super-blood but he has to avoid making Star Trek into something recognisable. Ok that means no technobabble, more space battles, probably a bit of lens-flare for good measure but will it still carry the moral themes and nuances that made the series what it was 50 years ago? Let's also remember that it will be arriving six months after JJ Abrams himself has directed a certain other sci-fi blockbuster sequel called The Force Awakens which lands in December 2015.

Justin Lin will have to direct like he's never directed before as his work will be compared whether he likes it or not to Abrams Episode VII. I don't think the third Star Trek reboot movie will be the last but it will have to prove its worth. I don't expect it to please a lot of fans because the dollar signs are king and nor can we expect it to lead into a TV series (stopping right there on that point).

Frankly who cares what SImon Pegg believes about today's sci-fi fans? Heck, Scotland Yard was checking us out before the Millennium in the UK in case we all went a bit nuts in 2000 and as long as he delivers a movie which he knows is the best he can do and is precisely what the studio have asked for then he can do no more. We've all had jobs where we haven't wanted to do X, Y or Z and his is no different. Pegg has a job to do or he won't get paid so our dissatisfaction needs to be aimed higher if Beyond is a turkey.

I'm really looking forward to seeing his work begin to take form in trailers, set shots and rumours that will explode in a matter of months. We are now barely a year away from the premiere and (from what we know) not even a frame has been committed to film and that might be the biggest concern left - time. This film has to be released in 2016 to coincide with a teeny tiny anniversary but yet we are nowhere near. Flashback to Into Darkness and the 2009 movie and we were well into production by this time. Is now our ultimate fear about Beyond that whether the script is good, bad or just ok it could be slapdash to produce "something" by June next year.

So let's see this as the "official" start to our countdown. I expect whatever result we get will be a big winner at the box office.

Looking forward with anticipation to the new movie or really concerned we're going to get a garbled mess? Let's talk!

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