The Star Trek trailer hit the Trek world by storm this week, including the contributors to TrekMovie.com. Anthony, the Editor in Chief, has weighed in with his trailer review (and his 20 minute preview analysis), but today some of the other contributors put in their two cents on the trailer, including some observations from their unique perspectives.
WWJD? (What would Jung Do?)
by John Tenuto – Consigliere / Shatnerologist / Collectibles Editor
[also a Professor of Sociology]
[NOTE analysis includes SPOILERS]
Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung never knew Star Trek. Yet, based on the 20 minutes of footage seen by the press and the trailer, it is obvious that if Jung never heard of Star Trek, the creators of the new movie know Jung. The more we hear about Star Trek 2009, the more evident it is that the characters and narrative are even more mythological than ever before. The theories of Carl Jung and mythologist Joseph Campbell about how archetypes creep into a storyteller through the collective unconscious we all share have never been more applicable to a Star Trek film.
Jung and Campbell, writing separately, yet whose work intertwines, both suggest that there is the monomyth and the hero with a thousand faces. What they mean is that because we all share archetypal definitions (or definitions of perfect or ideal types, for example, mt of us would agree what a perfect mother or father should be like) it is not surprising that narratives and characters from fiction are similar. The story of Superman is much the same story as Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter. Whether created in England or the United States, Russia or Kenya, our heroes are pretty much the same and experience pretty much the same things in all our mythologies.
The new Star Trek film is obviously riffing on mythology, perhaps in a way that Star Trek has never really done before. When people think of science fiction and archetypes, they tend to think of Star Wars (Lucas consulted with Campbell). It isn’t fair to say that Star Trek never expressed archetypes or monomyth themes before now (in fact, many academic essays have been written on the idea). However, as more and more is known about the film, the comparison to ideas of Jung and Campbell are replete, especially when thinking of the character known as James T. Kirk.
The Hero: James T. Kirk
For Campbell, the Hero can take two main forms, the citizen hero (sometimes called the compassionate hero, like Superman) or the rogue hero (sometimes called the passionate hero, like Batman). The Pine version of Kirk appears to have elements of both. Like all citizen heroes, we now know that this version of Captain Kirk has a special birth. Kal-El escapes from Krypton or Luke Skywalker is born in unusual circumstances, and while these heroes have a special birth, they live in meager environments. We see the birth of Kirk in the trailer, and we know from media reports that his father dies saving him and many others on the USS Kelvin. A father or mother sacrificing so a child may be born is a common theme of mythology. And, like many citizen heroes, from Luke Skywalker to Harry Potter to Dorothy from Oz, Kirk is raised in Iowa, on a farm.
Kirk also has features of a rogue hero. Rogue heroes usually start off needing redemption, the form of which is usually offered by meeting other hero partners and meeting the challenges of the narrative. Han Solo, for example, is a selfish criminal when we first meet him. Through his interactions with Luke and friends, and through their shared adventures, he redeems himself at the end by helping destroy the Death Star. Yet, Han is brash and cynical in a way Luke is not, and his roguish nature is what is attractive to women and makes him a fan favorite. Rogue heroes are usually characters who enjoy things like hotrods (witness Han’s love affair with the Millennium Falcon, with its miniature dice in the window in Episode IV). It appears that Kirk starts out this way, also. He obviously likes fast cars and motorcycles, gets in trouble with robotic looking law enforcers, and the scene described by the media in the bar with Uhura and her fellow cadets sure sounds like Kirk needs redeeming.
The Hero’s Journey: Kirk and his Boon
Every hero’s journey has a boon. A boon is the treasure, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or the Grail at the end of the crusade. However, boons are often not things, but more ephemeral treasures such as knowledge or courage. Indiana Jones never keeps the item he is seeking (the government gets the Ark, the villagers get the Sankara Stones, the Grail stays where it is, and the aliens leave). That is because Lucas and Spielberg know the item isn’t Indy’s boon. The boon in Raiders of the Lost Ark is Indy learning to respect religion and reestablishing his relationship with Marion. In the Temple of Doom, it is learning that fortune and glory and not as important as family. In The Last Crusade, the boon is restoring the connection to the father. And in the fourth film, it is finding that family is indeed the greatest treasure.
Kirk’s boons are already evident. The first is his command of the Enterprise, something that we have always known is his first, best destiny. The second is his own redemption from individualistic to group leader. He will obviously earn other things along the way, which include friendships and a purpose. He will probably also come to grips with the legacy of his father, as saves others just like the old man.
What is amazing is that just the two minute trailer (and the reports of the 20 minute preview), the mythological themes of Star Trek are already asserting themselves. It will be interesting to see how Jung and Campbell’s ideas are expressed in the entire narrative.
A hero is (re) born
It’s about ‘the millennials’
by Matt Wright – Asst. Editor
There is a is a lot of buzz (and fan controversy) about the new trailer, but an important element to bear in mind is: demographics. This trailer aimed to catch the attention of the "millennials", the young adults born in the 1990’s who are now moving into the prime teen and early adult age range. These are the movers and shakers when it comes to pop culture and product consumption. And to them, Star Trek is a relic from the ’80s or, even worse, the long gone 1960s with almost no context.
The successful recent genre "restarts" (for lack of a better term), like Batman, Bond, and even Transformers, were all re-made to be relevant to the 21st century. Batman and James Bond had to reinvent its main character for a new generation. Batman comes from just before World War II and James Bond comes from a post-WWII era, historical contexts most people under 70 know very little about in a tangible way. Re-introducing stories isn’t new; humans have been updating and changing fables, myths, and time tested works of literature for every era.
For the youth of today the 1960s has been reduced to a phrase: "a time of upheaval, and change", without any real grasp of why or how these changes emerged. Star Trek was a Parsonian view of change, order, and progress. This paradigm has little relevance to a teen of today. In the post-modern world we’re cynical about progress while being more reliant on, and connected by, technology then most could have imagined 20+ years ago. Further, teens today don’t really remember before 9/11. They were 11 years old or maybe as old as 13. Sept. 11 was a radical shift in the American social landscape: changing the political climate, the way we communicate, and the liberties we feel we should have.
This is not to say that teens should be pandered to, quite the opposite. Pandering is humoring, and that’s simply a hollow form. It’s more that these new cultural realities must be encompassed to be relevant to the youth who are the key to the film’s mainstream success, and Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman seem to know how to appeal to this generation. I do not envy their task of making the Trek legacy relevant to both the 1960s optimism and the 2000s cynicism.
So am I happy that we have an "iBridge"? not so much. Will it matter if it reinvigorates the franchise I love? Nope. If it works, it works. I’m willing to allow for change. Although I do not want the essence of Trek lost to a "music video sensibility" story, so far this is just a trailer, and on that is clearly aimed at hooking those with the MTV sensibility, and it is far too early to make out what the story will really entail.
Can Paramount bring back the kids?
Realizing the 23rd century
by Kayla Iocovino – Science & Technology Editor
From a scientific perspective, it is hard to say much about the new trailer. There are still plenty of unanswered questions regarding how scientifically accurate the movie will be. But just based on what we know so far, my guess is that the movie will be fairly accurate, at least in the realm of science fiction. As far as visuals go, JJ and crew brought aboard Carolyn Porco, the Cassini Imaging Team Leader for NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft currently in orbit around Saturn. With her help, the shots of space, planets, nebulae and so forth should be stunning and realistic.
Going off the trailer, we can look at Abrams’s portrayal of future technologies; things like flying cars (or motorcycles), compact angular buildings, and of course, space ships. What we can see, which again isn’t much considering the devil is in the details when it comes to this stuff, makes it look like the people behind the new movie really want to capture Trek in a more believable and relevant way than ever before. In my opinion the trailer represents the rebirth of a franchise.
If the movie truly is as exciting and action packed as the trailer makes it seem, Star Trek is going to be a highly successful box office draw next Summer.
This Trek should look realer than any before
Mulling over the details
by Robert Lyons – Books Editor
Having seen the trailer, both on the big screen and repeatedly on the web, I’ve had a wide array of thoughts about it. My first thoughts were somewhat unflattering; I wasn’t a huge fan of the newly revealed Enterprise, the new bridge, or the new uniforms when I saw them in still-life, but the trailer helped them to grow on me at least marginally. I’m still not sold on the new design ethic, but I am trying to keep an open mind. Some thoughts that have flowed from viewing the trailer:
- In many ways, the new Enterprise looks far more massive than feels right, making me think more of the USS Star Empire from the Diane Carey novel "Dreadnought".
- Kirk, in the car chase sequence, appears to be old enough to be on Tarsus IV (TOS: The Conscience of the King), but we have already heard that this takes place in Iowa. I’ll be curious to learn more about the car chase, as I sure can’t think of a reason for a canyon in Iowa.
- The new transporter effect is growing on me, as is the starship Kelvin. I’m still holding out for now on the Enterprise, but I really like what I have seen of the warp drive effects.
- I’m pretty sure that Bruce Greenwood owns Pike.
- The Vulcan sequences were exceptionally well done.
- Nero’s delivery of the trailer’s final line is flawlessly chilling, taking my mind back to some of Khan’s greatest phrases. And that look on his face when he says "The wait is over" is perfect.
- Between the pictures I have seen and the trailer, I think that Karl Urban should have been cast as Gary Mitchell, not Dr. McCoy.
- Skydiving fistfights didn’t work for Battlestar Galactica (Razor), or for Quantum of Solace, and I sure hope nobody has tried to try to make them work for Star Trek.
Some of the concerns that the recently released photos from the movie stirred have been quelled, and while I still have a level of concern about the new movie, I am remaining optimistic about it.
Urban playing Jim’s early best friend, but not Mitchell?
Gauging the Memory Alpha effect
by Charles Trotter – News & Celeb Editor
After avoiding the trailer spoilers, when it first started playing in my theater and that Corvette roared on the screen, I didn’t even realize it was Trek (which was probably the point). In fact, I thought it was another trailer for a Fast and Furious flick with Vin Diesel and I initially didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. When I realized that a kid was driving and the cop chasing him was on a hover bike and appeared to be a robot — this had me going, "what the hell?" When the kid proudly proclaimed himself to be James Tiberius Kirk, I was at first shocked, then my extreme nerdity took over and my complete attention was on the screen.
What followed on the screen was simply amazing, especially after covering all the casting news it was great seeing these actors bring these legendary characters to life. Based just on this 2-minute trailer, I am fully confident that the actors did fantastic jobs in each of their roles. I was disappointed that we never caught a glimpse of Nimoy in the trailer, but, hey, at least we got to see Rachel Nichols’ Orion babe! How awesome is that? The Enterprise especially looks lovely. I must say that the new design is growing on me fast. Based on the glimpses I’ve seen, Ryan Church is right: he and his team have designed us a fine ship, one which looks to certainly earn the name of Enterprise.
Now, having said all this, I do have some concerns over what I have seen in the trailer. You may not know this (or maybe you do), but in addition to writing for TrekMovie.com, I am also an archivist and administrator at Memory Alpha, an encyclopedia for canon Trek. Needless to say, I am wondering how this movie will affect the current state information at Memory Alpha since, judging by the trailer, the new movie will be toying with established canon quite a bit. There are several shots in the trailer which definitely raises a few canon-related questions. Why is the Enterprise being built in Iowa? How is it that Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov are apparently officers while Kirk is still a cadet? I can’t wait to see the explanations for these apparent contradictions but I don’t look forward to the chaos it will all cause at Memory Alpha.
However, these concerns pale in comparison to how psyched I am about this movie. I didn’t think I could get more excited over it before the trailer was released, but I was wrong; the trailer promises a movie that looks better than anything I could have imagined. I can only hope it follows through on that promise.
This is just the tip of the iceburg for the ripple effects to Memory Alpha