Star Trek boldly goes for a new generation

May 10th, 2009 - 9:11 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Andy Goldberg
Los Angeles, May 10 (DPA) Hospital nurse Michael Hudson remembers well the thrill he got when he first watched Star Trek on television in the late 1960s and in re-runs for 40 years since.

Yet every attempt to instil his sons with the same love of the sci-fi franchise failed miserably.

“They thought it was too old-fashioned, not enough action, too boring,” said Hudson of his two teenaged boys. “I’m hoping that the new movie will get them hooked.”

So are the producers of the hoped-for blockbuster, a revival of the classic sci-fi series that puts a decidedly modern touch on the retro-futuristic “Star Trek” ethos.

There’s no doubt that a change was needed.

Since its debut in 1966, the “Star Trek” franchise has seen its sizzle evaporate through six separate TV sequel series and 10 movies.

The “Star Trek” revival movie, directed by J.J. Abrams of “Lost” and “Mission Impossible III” fame, takes us back to the formative days of the Starship Enterprise as the sexy young crew members prepare for she vessel’s maiden voyage.

The academy where they learn the intricacies of intergalactic travel has reminded some early viewers of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, except with better looking students and more modern contrivances.

The hero, a rebellious James Kirk played by Chris Pine steps on the road to stardom when he triumphs over a previously unbeatable simulator invented by Spock - played by Zachary Quinto of NBC’s “Heroes”.

The background to the movie remains largely the same, though - a fitting reflection of the sense of possibility engendered in many Americans by the recent election of President Barack Obama.

In the “Star Trek” future, humans develop faster-than-light travel in 2063 and make contact with the alien Vulcan race, which helps them create a utopian society where the pursuit of money is replaced by exploration and knowledge.

The earthlings unite with other races in the galaxy to form the United Federation of Planets. The ships in their Starfleet are manned by multicultural and multiracial crews of both sexes, who fight villains exhibiting the usual human frailties of revenge, jealousy, greed and egotism.

In the new movie the villain is named Nero, played by Eric Bana.

The need to update “Star Trek” for a new generation of fans has not been met with universal acclaim by the series’ long-time fanatical followers - whose suspicions were raised early on when Abrams revealed that he was not a Trekkie and hadn’t even watched the series while growing up.

“I was never really a fan of `Star Trek’,” admitted Abrams.

“Approaching it from a non-fan point of view I didn’t feel like I had to adhere to exactly what had been done already for four-and-a-half decades. Instead, I could go into it with a little bit more of an open mind.”

Some fans are angry that the “Star Trek” gospel has been tampered with. “I simply REFUSE to support ParaMOUND in their DEGRADATION of my beloved STAR TREK,” wrote one contributor on the fan site

But other fans could barely contain their excitement. Another wrote: “The general consensus is that it is an outstanding movie. Can’t wait to see for myself. Live Long And Prosper!”

Abrams hopes he has wrought a successful compromise between the need to appeal to old-time fans and bring in a new audience.

“Our goal was to honour and respect what (Trekkies) love so much,” Abrams said, “and, yet, make our own statement.”

The early signs are promising.

Online movie ticket site Fandango said that 100 opening weekend shows have already sold out, and that tickets for the movie account for 83 percent of all advance tickets sold. That looks sure to make it one of the most popular films of the summer.

“I’ve already got my three tickets, and my sons are going with me,” Hudson said. “I didn’t even need to bribe them with extra pocket money. They actually want to see it.”

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