Monday, June 17, 2013

Movie Remakes: Star Trek and Jane Austen

I've been a Star Trek fan since I was in middle school. Equal blame falls on my mom and my best friend: my mom bought a boxed set of the movies on VHS, and my best friend was a big The Next Generation fan. I thought TNG was silly (I still do, at times). But The Original Series (TOS)? That was a different story! It was so... cheesy. I liked the special effects that had once been cutting edge. I liked that it was pushing an agenda before the age of political correctness. By the time of TNG--well, I can thank Wil Wheaton for his rather snotty Wesley Crusher in the episode "The Final Mission"--I eventually came to dislike the pushy PC agenda of the show as well as the cruise ship design. The Enterprise-D looked like a space-worthy Caribbean cruise-liner.

As a result of watching TNG and the movies, I got back into watching TOS. To this day it is my favorite of the series, and that's probably due to my background in history. I was excited over the first TNG movie, Star Trek Generations, until I saw it. Since the movie came out years ago, SPOILER ALERT is all you will get, but the movie lost me when they killed Kirk. I was done with the creators of this movie, and I was correct in thinking that because, with the exception of Star Trek: First Contact, the other movies were weak. I was sick of the action around Data and Picard. Ooh, Geordie has new eyes. Riker and Troi? Yep, still taking bubble baths together--and I wish I was making that up.

Imagine my excitement when I heard a new Star Trek movie was being made in 2009, a reboot of TOS! Everything was so secretive, like who was going to make a cameo appearance (Nimoy) and who wasn't (Shatner) because JJ Abrams was directing it. Of course, die-hard Trekkers (I considered myself a Trekkie, which seems to be a less-serious fan) were aghast. Since I never understood the techno-babble and the science, all I required was a good story and a good Doctor McCoy.

And this is what we got. A younger crew, younger even then the characters were when TOS first aired.  And how do we explain away the canon? A rift in the time-space continuum, and they didn't even have to sling themselves around the Sun! And Karl Urban's Dr. McCoy? Yes, please. (He's a doctor, not a physicist.)

The characters are slightly different due to that time rift in the 2009 movie, Starfleet is slightly different, and I find that to be perfectly fine. In fact, this summer's Star Trek: Into Darkness pays the perfect homage to an earlier, classic Trek movie. (Spoilers!)

So, where does Jane Austen come into this? Well, Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books, and the 1995 adaption with Colin Firth is my favorite production. It's perfect in every way, from the language, to the costuming, to Colin Firth in a wet shirt... so I was not too thrilled when I found out Keiera Knightly was going to play Lizzie Bennet. No! She was all wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

I couldn't help but compare it to the 1995 version, which was a mini-series. It's hard to pack that entire book into roughly two hours, but I was appalled when I saw that Bingley was allowed into Jane's sick-room. That would NOT have been tolerated in Jane Austen's time, and I didn't tolerate it, either.

And this is where Trek comes in. My feelings for this inferior Pride and Prejudice is similar to some people's distaste for the Star Trek reboot. I can more easily understand their intransigence at accepting it, much like I have difficulty in accepting how Matthew MacFadyen's wooden Mr. Darcy could fall for a toothpick with hair.

[You can check out Wil Wheaton at his blog, WIL WHEATON dot NET.  I look forward to each of his appearances on The Big Bang Theory and have forgiven him for looking like Wynona Ryder in one of those Tiger Beat magazines from when I was in ninth grade. We all make mistakes. ]

No comments: