Earlier this week , the fabulous genre website, io9.com, ran an article I wrote regarding how Paramount is missing out on a unique opportunity to develop Star Trek as a blockbuster multi-media property. After reading the article, your jocular webmaster Anthony Pascale, reached out to me and discussed expanding my article (or, as Charles Foster Kane might say, Declaration of Principals) for the Trek Movie audience with some additional and more Trek-specific thoughts to help facilitate a continued debate on the future of the Star Trek universe. As such, I hope you’ll find the revised, expanded, director’s cut version of my article (ne: manifesto) thought-provoking and worthy of further discussion as what I’m sure will be the first of many opinion pieces on how the studio should be treating the franchise as we approach its 50th anniversary in 2016. Now onwards, first star to the right and straight on till morning…
Articles by Mark A. Altman
TrekMovie, in its desire to provide a broad response to the release of the latest Star Trek film, reached out to Free Enterprise writer/producer and founding publisher of Geek Magazine, Mark A. Altman, for his thoughts on the latest film. After much cajoling, a reluctant Altman, who the Los Angeles Times once called, “the world’s foremost Trekspert” agreed to share his thoughts with us (with no major spoilers).
30 years ago today, on December 7th 1979 Star Trek leapt from the small to the big screen with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. All week long TrekMovie will be celebrating the anniversary, beginning today with a tribute by Free Enterprise producer Mark Altman, that looks at the film and its place in history.
Two weeks ago TrekMovie presented the first official site review for the new Star Trek movie, but that was just the beginning. We will be presenting a number of reviews in total and today we have one from friend of the site and Free Enterprise writer/producer Mark Altman. [note review contains minor spoilers]
TrekMovie Editor Anthony is not the only site contributor who attended the Paramount "Star Trek" preview in Los Angeles last week (see his report). Also on hand was writer/producer Mark Altman ("Free Enterprise"), who weighs on the new Trek from his unique perspective and with his formidable ‘Trekspertise.’ [SPOILERS]
The stories of Leonard Nimoy’s feuds with Paramount are legendary, but on Sunday night America’s favorite Vulcan put Mr. Spock, beer bottles and Hollywood accounting behind and turned out to host "The Big Picture: The Films of Paramount Pictures" – a music tribute at the legendary Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA. Despite the sweltering weather, Nimoy was classy as always and surprisingly avuncular as he introduced a litany of classic scores (and accompanying film clips) to some of Paramount’s greatest films including A Place In The Sun, Forest Gump, Chinatown, The Godfather Trilogy, Titanic, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and many more.
PARADISE LOST: LOVING THE ALIEN After watching last weekend’s ‘remastered’ version of “This Side of Paradise,” it’s not hard to imagine how Philip Kaufman got the idea to cast Leonard Nimoy in his 1979 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, one of the most underrated genre films of the 70’s (re-issued in a the new Invasion of the Body Snatchers DVD (Collector’s Edition) next month and definitely worth buying, BTW). Re-imagined as a paranoid sci-fi film noir, Kaufman’s film is sheer genius (which doesn’t taken anything away from the original which is also a superlative film) which managed to showcase Leonard Nimoy in a role that we seemingly had not seen him in before in which he goes from an emotional psychoanalyst to a cold, logical pod person in a heinous corduroy suit transformed by alien spores. It was while watching “This Side of Paradise” again that I realized what a debt of gratitude this wonderful episode owes to Jack Finney’s classic “Body Snatchers” tale, but not in a goofy, body switching piece of sci-fi theatrics like The Next Generation’s “Power Play” in which Data, Troi and O’Brien go all Kryptonian on the crew of the Enterprise D, but rather using the body snatching motif to illuminate character nuance.
TRIUMPH OF THE BILLKirk & Company save us from the Nazis and proves we can all get alongSantayana once said “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it,” but in the case of John Gill, he didn’t forget, he just made a really, really bad call. It was a bad call, John, a bad call. Thus goes “Patterns of Force,” in which a Federation historian (this time not an unhinged captain, commodore or woman who wants to change bodies with Kirk for a change showing that even academics can get into the act of nearly destroying, not only one planet, but possibly two) uses Nazi German as the template for a brave new Ayran world. It’s such a great idea that the neo-cons watching this episode as kids probably thought what a great idea this would be oneday…but I digress.
GETTING INTO THE ACTIONWhether you’re a die-hard fan of the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Voyager (and, god help you, if you are), it’s hard to argue that there’s only one series which did comedy well and that was Classic Trek. Unlike Next Generation (which tried to be funny, painfully in episodes like "Manhunt" and the somewhat wittier "Captains Holiday" in which Picard vacations on a pleasure planet with the story eventually degenerating into mindless technobabble) and Voyager, Classic Trek and Deep Space Nine were the only series for which humor was an essential ingredient.
THERE WAS, BUT NOT ANYMORE: DOOMSDAY HAS ARRIVED! Before getting to my review of the new “Doomsday Machine,” let’s get through the preliminaries first. First up, let’s address why it’s sacrilege to screw with the original Star Wars Films (ok, really SW and ESB, I never really cared what they did with Jedi – although putting a new song in Jabba’s court was not really a step in the right direction) and not Star Trek. The answer: because George Lucas, for all intents and purposes, is supplanting the original Oscar nominated versions of Star Wars (which resides in the Library of Congress among other places) for all time and, frankly, making them worse. The Enhanced Star Trek, on the other hand, is an alternate version of the original episodes which continue to be in syndication and on DVD and are not intended to replace the original 1966-69 versions, but rather exist as a companion piece to them.
on J.J. Abrams taking the helm of the Star Trek franchiseIt was 40 years ago that Gene Roddenberry first taught the band to play. It was a seminal science fiction series called Star Trek. And despite having spawned a succession of spin-off’s and sequels, the original Star Trek, remains the most prescient and entertaining series of all by far four decades after it first aired on NBC. Ironically, while it’s nearly impossible to watch Next Generation or Deep Space Nine these days, both which seem hopelessly dated relics of the bland 90s; Classic Trek, with its 60s fuelled New Frontier zeal, despite its Styrofoam sets and dated visual effects, remains amazingly potent largely because of the inter-personal dynamics of its troika of leading men; Kirk, Spock and McCoy. It’s because of them I’d rather watch the worst episode of Classic Trek than the best of Enterprise or Voyager.