Thought of the Day: So long “Kelvin Timeline”, we hardly knew ye


Yes, I know that the Last Jedi came out. I also haven’t talked about philosophy in awhile. And it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written a chapter for Phil Whistle.

But what are you going to do about it?

Life’s tough. I’ve got a lot on my plate and I’ve got even more on my mind.

And with the release of the latest Star Wars film, it appears that the most famous franchise of all time is back on top. It might not have ever left the top. But what people have forgotten is that for a very brief moment in time…VERY brief…Star Trek appeared to have finally bested Star Wars with critics and fans.

The year was 2009.

Star Trek essentially went dormant for five or so years following the cancellation of Enterprise. It appeared as though Rick Berman drove the series into the ground. There were too many bland Trek shows saturating the TV landscape and audiences (along with Trekkies) had enough. Internet forums were flooded with debates over whether or not Trek should be revived or forever remain in retirement.

Then rumors began circulating: Paramount wanted to bring back Kirk and Spock. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, JJ Abrams and his crack team of producers and writers were officially tasked with bringing Star Trek back to the big screen.

Trek was back, and it appeared that they wanted to do it RIGHT this time.

Star Wars, of course, was still insanely popular. But the prequels left the series slightly tainted. By the time Revenge of the Sith came out, audiences felt as though they were ready to get this thing over with.

George Lucas, the legend, overstayed his welcome with the series. It was the lowest point in Star Wars history. And then, all the sudden, it appeared as though Star Trek had all of the talent and anticipation.

When the 2009 film was released, I went to see it with a non-fan. After the opening sequence, the destruction of the USS Kelvin…one of the finest moments in Trek history, she looked over at me in amazement. I was speechless.

Was this Star Trek?

It looked as though the days of phoning in the makeup and special effects were over. This was Star Trek for the 21st Century.

And it was popular with non-fans as well. Many bitched about the “lens flares”, but I felt that it added a sense of realism that was never quite felt in the series before. (Plus, many have tried to mimic that look ever since. I mean, I don’t know, but could the cinematography in ST09 be one of the most famous in film history?) It might not have been the most “Trek”-like in the series, but no one cared. It was fun and the public wanted more.

And then we waited.

Suddenly it was 2013.

I believe it was in 2012 when it was announced that Disney had purchased Star Wars….and JJ Abrams was going to direct the first film. Abrams never made it a secret that he was more of a Star Wars than a Trek fan. That’s understandable. All I expected of him and his crew was to deliver another Trek film…preferably in a timely manner.

By the time Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci announced that they began writing the script for a sequel, my first reaction was “why did it take you so long?”. As I recall, they didn’t start work on it until two years after the release of ST09. Although the studio and producers said publicly that they were committed to doing Star Trek, they treated the lazily titled Star Trek Into Darkness like an assignment that they forgot about and then tried desperately to cram it in.

I felt temporarily relieved after watching Into Darkness on its opening day. Sure, it fell apart a bit in the second half and Khan being played by a white guy was a bit bothersome, but overall I thought it was worth the wait.

Then I watched it again.

And then again.

When we watch movies, there’s a degree of acceptability regarding plot holes and things in general not making sense. This is especially true with summer blockbusters. Star Trek Into Darkness abuses this trust.

It felt exactly like the writers waited until the last minute to write this thing.

Bob Orci…poor Bob, supposedly the one “true” Trek fan in the Abrams crew…has taken a lot of heat over the last few years because of this film. At one point, he got into an argument with a fan on the message boards. In other interviews, I’ve heard him be quite defensive. Orci and Kurtzman would not return to the third installment.

In the years between Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond, my enthusiasm for this Abrams’ “Kelvin Timeline” plummeted. Into Darkness was such a bad film that it would even ruin the once great ST09 for me. When it was announced that Star Trek Beyond was in production, I grew more disillusioned. “Justin “Fast and the Furious” Lin is directing?”, I thought. When positive reviews were spilling out prior to release, I didn’t believe any of it. I went into the theater with low expectations, and somehow I still ended up being disappointed. But I did get slightly depressed when I as the nu-Kirk, Spock, and McCoy standing together in the last scene: so much potential for these guys that was never realized.

While I respect what Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, and the crew did with such iconic characters…they truly did what I previously thought was impossible…I sincerely hope that we’ve seen the last of this “Kelvin Timeline”.

I’m not really interested in seeing a “rebooted” ST:TNG in this universe.

While everyone will flock to see Star Wars over the coming weeks, I just wanted to recall a brief time when Star Trek appeared to have a similar future. And perhaps it will someday, in some “alternate timeline”.

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