As we already know, the latest Star Trek franchise has been in production for a while now. A new Star Trek film directed by Quentin Tarantino is in the works. But I’d like to take a moment and reflect on a part of Star Trek that was lost when the newest franchise began. In the original Star Trek movie (1979) the Starship Enterprise is just as much a beloved family member to the crew as the people. But, in the first movie from the latest Star Trek franchise (2009) the Starship Enterprise is not given the same respect.
Star Trek 1979
The TV series set the stage for the movie. The team has had a few years to get know each other aboard the Starship Enterprise. So it makes sense that the there is an emotional connection with the Starship Enterprise very early on in the movie. The audience watches for several minutes as Captain Kirk and Hikaru Sulu float to the ship in anticipation of another space adventure. Both are silent for most of the journey but you can see the pride in their eyes as they gaze at the Starship Enterprise. You also hear the iconic phrase, “Permission to come aboard, Captain,” before any action begins. Respect for the vessel is established before all else.
Star Trek 2009
James T. Kirk (played by Chris Pine) is not who we remember from the original TV series. Booze, bar fights, and hitting on every female in sight are what define him early on in the movie for comic value. Sure, the original Star Trek franchise wasn’t without a few laughs but that wasn’t the main focus of the show. Team camaraderie is what defines Star Trek. But this is not established until the end of the movie. The Starship Enterprise took a back seat to the new Captain Kirk’s “warp speed” personality. Chris Pine summarized it best when he said the character is “a 25-year-old [who acts like a] 15-year-old…”.
Understandably, when you remake a classic such as Star Trek there will be some obstacles to overcome. Hollywood is hoping new technology will “hook” a new generation of fans. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Bigger, more elaborate planets and battle scenes can enhance the emotional connection with the characters. But, sometimes that means sacrificing elements of the original that meant something to the fans of the past. After all, a Texas businessman and Chinese executive did not create a replica of one comical character from the Star Trek series. They spent millions creating a replica of the Starship Enterprise.