Monday Morning Critic – Star Trek: Into Darkness And The Power of the “Star Trek” Canon – Trek Nation, Gene Roddenberry

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The one thing that left me thinking after Star Trek: Into Darkness was over was that of dedication to canon. It stuck in my craw as I left the theatre for a late night venture to the gym: is commitment to the canon of any franchise something that has to be done or is it a sake of convenience? After watching Into Darkness I had one of those internal debates while I attacked the elliptical machine. How do we justify a film’s quality, or lack thereof, in regards to its original canon if it’s a remake, reboot or re-launch of a franchise?

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I’m torn so I thought I’d write about it this week. My first thoughts were “who cares” in regards to Star Trek and its sequel pretty much dispelling 90% of the established canon for a new take. It’s easily justifiable, as they create a brand new universe to be able to toy around with the conventions of the old one. Nothing from current Trek canon matters because we’ve got a new universe to play with.

This wouldn’t be comparable to this hypothetical: Christopher Nolan changes up Batman lore by turning Bruce Wayne into a ‘70s club kid who’s parents get shot at Studio 54. Throw in a disco-dancing Robin and this version of Batman Begins would’ve been … interesting, to say the least.

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Abrams kept in what worked for his version of Star Trek and tossed out the rest, opting to rework it in his image and nothing else. I admire the courage that takes, to go against the grain. But one thing kept bugging me, even despite my endorsement of being able to craft a new universe given the solid direction Trek has gone: shouldn’t there be more respect to the nature of the franchise than just some token acknowledgements?

That’s the thing that gets me. I’m not a Trekkie, or a Trekker, but I’ve seen enough of the television show (and own the movies) to know that there isn’t a whole lot of Trek in Abrams’s version of the franchise. I can imagine that if you’re a diehard fan of the shows that swallowing this new franchise, which is more action than science fiction, has to be kind of hard. On the one hand it’s more Star Trek; it’s better than none, right?

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Thus I leave it up to you, the reader. Is it ok to depart from canon … or would you prefer a more traditional Trek?

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This Week’s DVD – Trek Nation

What’s it like to grow up in the shoes of a man who created an American institution? That’s what Eugene Roddenberry Jr. had to deal with as a kid, and later as an adult, as he is the son of Gene Roddenberry. Gene was the creator of Star Trek, among others, and he died before they could establish the adult relationship children are supposed to have with their parents. Almost forty years after his death, Eugene Jr. wanted to explore what his father had created as well as the man himself. Thus came Trek Nation in 2010, where the son followed the father’s footprints to learn more about his father as a man and as the myth.

It’s an interesting take on the man from his son as he learns, like every son, that his father was a flawed person among other things. He’s upfront about it all, as well, as we get an interesting viewpoint on the father from his child. It’s loving but honest, exploring the impact of Trek as well as some interesting stories, including Nichelle Nichols detailing one in which she discusses how Martin Luther King Jr. convinced her to stay on the show after the first season.

Lots of cameos, too, as even George Lucas and Stan Lee discuss how Trek influenced their work. They’ve got interviews from the original series, The Next Generation and luminaries from the entertainment field to talk about the show and Roddenberry. It’s a fascinating insight into the man, not all of it good, and you get a well crafted look at Gene Roddenberry as a person (warts and all). There’s a real insightful moment when the son discusses his father with Wil Wheaton and the resulting conversation about the character, and Gene’s take on it.

It’s on Hulu, so you don’t have to pay for it, but it’s worth the view. Recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Epic – A human gets shrunk and winds up in a war of grasshoppers or something.

Skip it – I don’t know much about this film … but the adage for animation holds: “If it ain’t Pixar it’s probably crap.”

Fast & Furious 6 – The Rock plus Vin Diesel vs. McNulty

See it – It advertises exactly what it delivers, which isn’t the worst thing in the world.

The Hangover Part III – Apparently they don’t go out and party so hard they black out this time.

Skip it – There comes a point when a franchise just exists so people have something to do and nothing more. This is it.

Before Midnight – The cast is back … and now it’s love in their 40s.

See it – This has a chance to be the greatest trilogy ever, regardless of genre.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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