Friday, July 08, 2016

Blessed(?) Distraction

Let's focus for a moment on geek franchises -- shall we?

Star Trek Beyond: I am not at all primed to see this, though if it affords me a chance to hang with my elder daughter I will happily stand in line and pay for the experience. She remains excited as the date of release draws closer -- she even expresses fondness for the previous movie, a bold but lonely position to take in our family. Chris Pine's cute-factor has exemplary cachet with her, I suspect.

But let's be honest: it's not looking promising. The actors are in full dog-and-pony-show mode, and the reveals they're letting slip are decidedly underwhelming. Example 1: Sulu is gay! The Onion AV, in a rare critical lapse, dubs this "a sweet tribute to George Takei." George, meanwhile, is having none of it -- citing this as the thoughtless sort of gratuity that characterizes franchise low-points.

Takei suggests Nimoy would have balked at this as well, and I believe he's right. Gay Sulu is an egregious retcon of the original timeline, in which Sulu is straight as an arrow. Whether Sulu's sexuality serves any purpose in the forthcoming narrative remains to be seen, of course. But as it stands this flourish has more than a whiff of the sort of "why not?" thinking that went into the franchise's most lamentable creative decisions, like Kirk's death(s).

"Perhaps it plays better on the big screen."

Moving on to Example 2: Simon Pegg had a hand in the screenplay! On the face of it this is good news. Pegg's understanding of geek and nerd psychology is impressively deep, as evidenced in his memoirs and previous screenplays. And he speaks highly of director Justin Lin -- but then Pegg speaks highly of everyone, in his unique, simultaneously jocular and pained manner, and this is where doubts set in. The takeaway for me, alas, is that Pegg tried to quit three times, and swears he'll never write for the franchise again.

"Rewrites, Mr. Pegg! We need those rewrites!"

Still and all: my daughter is excited. And maybe she's right to be -- after all, I've been wrong on this matter before.

On the other hand, if Pegg's script includes an abundance of penis jokes, her ardour for the film might cool dramatically. This is the daughter who sat through Deadpool with me, and although I was a giggling fool throughout the duration, the best she managed was a pained smile. Daughters don't laugh at dick jokes when their father is in the room, I guess.

"Dick jokes? Naw, man: I'm all about ..."
I enjoyed the movie, and could even stand a second viewing to catch some of the stuff that flew past my notice the first go-round. But at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter how blue or "meta" the exercise gets -- it's still a Marvel movie.


Joel Swagman said...

an interesting link.

I'm floating between optimism and pessimism about this latest movie.

This paragraph fills me with optimism:

"We were at pains to create something that inhabited both incarnations," Pegg says. "The first Star Trek series was characterised by a lack of money so they became these philosophical little morality plays, necessity was totally the mother of invention. Doug and I wanted to enable it to be what it has to be on a commercial stage these days, but fill it with stuff from the beginning."

But then the very next paragraph fills me with dread:

They also had to factor in director Justin Lin of the The Fast and the Furious franchise. "Justin came with ideas… you know, it's his film," Pegg says. "He had certain set pieces he wanted, so we had to build the narrative around those events. This often hobbles big blockbusters because you have these prevised sequences writers have to crowbar into a story, to try and join the dots between massive set pieces."

...that...that sounds a lot like a movie that's really going to suck.

Darrell Reimer said...

I still can't get over that clip of Kirk riding a dirt bike. I know it's not entirely out of keeping, he rode something motorcycley in the first movie, but the growl of a tw-stroke engine in that context just sets my teeth on edge.