Rebooting

Ranting, a Call for Originality and a Dose of Hypocrisy.

I work in a place serving food. Sometimes when I ask what a customer would like they say: “I’ll have the same.” The thing is though that the meals have various accompaniments so, and I know this is over thinking, at some point the meals aren’t the same. On one occasion a customer said: “I’ll have the same but can I have it with mash instead of fries and carrots instead of peas?”

Since the meal only contained three items I would not characterise this as being the same. This leads me to Rebooting…

For anyone who may not know ‘rebooting‘ is when a franchise is taken back to the beginning and the original history of the series is discarded. The point of that opening rambles is that sometimes the reboot is so different I wonder why its a reboot and not something new.

The 2009 Star Trek film was a reboot. I have still only seen the film once but I thought it was awful. I will see it again but I doubt my opinion of it will change. I might go so far as to say its an okay film but not an okay Star Trek film.

Spoiler Alert – Spoiler Alert – This is not a drill.

I’ll probably rip this film apart at some point but for now I’m going to stick with one plot point.

At the end of the film Kirk is promoted from Cadet Third Year to Captain. Now you don’t have to be an expert in the military to know that this is a very strange thing to do. It is inconsistent with everything in the Star Trek universe.

However if this was a new science fiction then Abrams would have had complete creative control. He could have set it in a feudal society where this huge leap of a promotion might have been plausible. After all in the past, as far as I understand it, one of the reasons for having officers was so that the gentry could leap ahead in rank. In this setting the promotion would make considerably more sense.

Also, as an aside, the reason for a reboot is usually that the franchise has got a bit stale. It seems rather ironic that this film made changes post Enterprise – given that Enterprise is the primary cause of the demise of good Star Trek!

So what if Abrams had made his own film. Lets call it Space: The Revenge of Nero. Obviously this is not a good title but it’ll work as a place holder. With this he would be able to do anything and not have to think about what had been previously established.

Just to close this portion of the post there is one thing I will say. Star Trek: The Original Series was made in the ’60 and so some things have to be changed. The most obvious is that women can were trousers. This updating was one of the aspects of the film I liked.

Now I’m not completely naieve. I am aware that films are there to make money. That said I think there has to be a creative spark. Abrams is well-known for Lost and Fringe. I’m sure a film made by him would have attracted a huge audience.

Now for the hypocrisy. One series I really like is Battlestar Galactic. This is a reboot and has some startling changes, most notably Starbuck. To me the important difference between that and the Star Trek film is that BG had been off the air for decades.

Someone on the web, and I’m sorry I can’t source this properly, made an interesting comment. I can only paraphrase.

“Star Trek was in trouble. It just need a bit of buffing up. We didn’t need to go to the store and get a new one.”

I think that sums up nicely what is wrong with reboots. It can easily alienate fans of the original material which seems like a poor place to start. Yes, Abrams has brought Star Trek back into the mainstream but in doing so he has made fundamental changes.

So the obvious answer to the question of why reboots are done is to attract new audiences and of course to make money.

Rebooting is certainly an interesting concept and can work in some situations. However I would ask writers to take more of a risk. One of the most fun parts of writing is designing the universe for the characters to inhabit. It is true from a financial point of view a reboot is more of a sure think but new ideas are always interesting. The sad thing is that its hard to think of that many recent films that have an original concept. These days special effects tend to overwhelm a story and we are left with a bland soup of explosions and two dimensional characters.

I’ve seen some vlogs talking about the rebooting of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ which is being changed so that they are aliens. Fans of this series are horrified by this idea. This doesn’t bother me as it was never a series I watched and know very little about it. Nevertheless if the story is now going to become about a group of aliens who are expert martial artists and fight crime why not make it something completely new? I believe that if you’ve got a good story audiences will go to see your film or television series. The fact that it is a reboot may have some effect but I think that going it alone can often be far more interesting.

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