From Small Stories to Undiscovered Countries

As a lifelong Trekkie, I’m trying to resist the urge to devote an entire blog to over-analyzing the tidbits that Star Trek XI writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci revealed in their recent interview with MTV. Like everyone else, I want to pull apart each quote and consider what they might mean for the future of Star Trek.

Speculating about top secret films is all part of the fun, of course. I remember reading and re-reading a brief article with director Nicholas Meyer from 1990 or early 1991 in which he described his then forthcoming Star Trek VI as “a small story about Spock in love.” He went on to say, “I would not like to create a movie that ends with a bang or pulls too much on the heartstrings. I just want to tell a good story that seems to relate to today.”

The quote from Meyer, one of the first about the new movie’s direction, inspired both disappointment and curiosity in me. On the surface, “Spock in love” just didn’t sound that interesting. It brought to mind images of the Vulcan hanging from a tree in “This Side of Paradise.” After two comedies in a row, the most recent of which was less than well received, was a love story really going to be Star Trek‘s saving grace?

On the other hand, this was Nick Meyer after all! Directing Star Trek II and co-writing Trek IV certainly gave the guy a ton of credit in my book. In many ways, Star Trek V tried to be too large of a story. Maybe Meyer was right, a small story was the way to go this time out.

While I’m still not entirely sure if Meyer was a.) joking, b.) tossing out a red herring, or c.) not aware that he was going to throw the love angle out (I suspect “b”), we all know how Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country turned out. It was an epic yet sentimental story that acted as the perfect sendoff for the classic cast. Though the plot had nothing to do with Spock in love, Meyer’s quote rang true in two ways.

Star Trek VI did not end with a bang. Instead, it started with one. Did Meyer already know this when making the comment? If so, he was being pretty clever messing with us fans like that.

And Star Trek VI did indeed pull from (and, in some cases, predict) headlines of the day in using the old Federation as USA and Klingons as USSR metaphor.

So, when Christmas 2008 rolls around, we’ll likely be seeing these early comments about Star Trek XI in a whole new light. Which reminds me, I’ve never actually gone to a movie on Christmas Day. This might be the one to change that.

Will Star Trek XI be the perfect gift for Star Trek fans? Or will we be wishing we could exchange it for something else?

* * *

All right, all right, so I can’t resist analyzing one small part of the MTV article. I only said I would try to resist. I submit to the pressure, every time.

From the sound of it, fans can rest assured that subtitles about undiscovered countries and insurrections are a thing of the past. Kurtzman and Orci told MTV that their film is titled, quite simply, “Star Trek.” “That’s the intended title. I don’t think we want to put any colons or anything on it,” Orci said.

Since it looks more and more like this movie will be a rebirth of the Trek adventures, my initial reaction to the proposed title is that it may be perfect. At least for this movie.

But, this is Hollywood, after all. You have to think about sequels. What would you call the sequel to a movie named Star Trek? Star Trek II? Haven’t we already done that?

It seems to me that the colon can’t be avoided forever, at least not without dropping Star Trek out of the title all together. Unlike The Dark Knight and The Man of Steel for Batman and Superman, I don’t think there’s a strong enough fill-in for “Star Trek” to use on sequels.

The biggest alternative that comes to mind is “The Final Frontier” and you can bet they won’t use that one (see entry under failed movies). Another possibility is “Enterprise,” which of course they won’t use either (see entry under failed TV series). So, unless they come up with a title like Star Trek Generations each time, they are stuck with the colon for future sequels.

Though I can see the beauty of using the simple title Star Trek, I say keep the colon and bring back the Roman numeral. That’s right, go old-school on the title and call it Star Trek XI: The Adventure Begins. Well, except for that “The Adventure Begins” part.

I can’t really suggest a suitable subtitle, without having read the script. I’m sure the writers don’t need my help devising titles. But, if they do, I’d be more than happy to send dozens of potential alternatives if they’d only send me a copy of the script.

Just kidding, I actually don’t want a copy of the script. I’d rather wait and be surprised by opening the present on Christmas. Even if it isn’t until 2008.