Friday, May 22, 2015

The Trouble with Threequels

So I think we need to talk about Simon Pegg. I have...concerns. Yeah, about Star Trek, so if you want to bail out now is the time. First let me start by saying that I like Simon Pegg. Go watch Hot Fuzz. Like, right now. I'll wait...back? I know, right? Anyway, Pegg is currently involved in a little nerd controversy. A nerdtraversy, if you will (it's ok if you won't, I wouldn't).
In fact it's the greatest nerdtraversy since the Star Trek
versus Star Wars conflict that nearly drove our kind to extinction. 
Lets catch up. In an interview with Radio Times Pegg said...

Fair point, but could you maybe
not make it while hanging out
with your wacky alien sidekick?
"Obviously I'm very much a self-confessed fan of science fiction and genre cinema but part of me looks at society as it is now and just things we've been infantilised by our own taste. Now we're essentially all consuming very childish things--comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it's taking our focus away from real-world issues. Films used to be about challenging emotional journeys or moral questions..."

-Simon Pegg, not being wrong

Above: Another memorable scene from
the Hobbit-or Maleficent? Shit, maybe
it's from the Legend of Hercules?
The internet was collectively outraged, but he's got a point. He later clarified on his blog that his issue is not with genre fans, but with movie makers who will often substitute empty, CGI-laden spectacle for complex story-telling and imagination. It's not because they're lazy or lack creativity (although, they often are and do) it's because that's what sells and until we all stop showing up to things like The Hobbit: The Confusing Battle of the Five Similar and Blurry Armies, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Ok, cool. He's put his finger on it. The problem with the current glut of sci-fi and fantasy movies is that too many of them are nothing more than CGI showpieces with paper-thin characters and nothing interesting to say.
 Optimus Prime riding Grimlock in Transformers 4 which made $1 billion.
Yeah, you heard me, one billion dollars. Of money. 
I don't know...that chocolate cake looks
a little too chocolate cakey for my taste.
I guess this means that we can all rest easy that Star Trek Beyond, the new Trek movie Pegg is co-writing, will be a smart, challenging sci-fi film that takes the series back to its roots. Here's Pegg on why he was brought on to help pen the sequel:

"They had a script for Star Trek that wasn't really working for them. I think the studio was worried that it might have been a little bit too Star Trek-y..."

-Simon Pegg, crushing our hopes and dreams

Oh, and did I mention that Bones built a
remote control for Spock's brainless carcass?
Because he did. That's how low the bar is.
Shit. He goes on to explain that the studio would like to "make a western, or a thriller, or a heist movie, then populate it with Star Trek characters so it's more inclusive to an audience..." Am I kind of jerk for reading 'inclusive to an audience' as meaning 'dumbed down?' Yes I am. But you know I'm kind of right. To be clear, I don't know what makes a financially successful movie, but I do know a lot about Star Trek and Spock fighting Khan on top of a flying garbage truck in Into Darkness was the stupidest moment in Star Trek history, and there've been some seriously stupid moments. Like that time aliens stole Spock's brain in an episode entitled: Spock's Brain. 

Anyway, it kind of sounds like the plan for Star Trek 3 is to make a generic western/thriller/heist and plug in Kirk and Spock, which doesn't seem like a recipe for 'challenging emotional journey,' so much as it sounds like bullshit pandering and creatively void movie making. Which is exactly the problem with the nerd genre that Simon Pegg was just bemoaning. But then again, he did make Hot Fuzz.
So like, benefit of the doubt?

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