Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The new "Star Trek" movie has created quite the debate lately over whether on not the film took the right direction in setting up a new franchise. As of right now the movie is popular among modern audiences for it's big CGI component, but die-hard fans are feeling a distinct lack of development in character and plot development. Rather than break the existing film down, my friend Andrew Price has written what he thinks would have been a better script for a modern "Star Trek." Give it a read, let us know what you think, and tell us what script you would have written. ~SQT The Star Trek Movie They Should Have Made by Andrew Price Last week, I got into a discussion about the new Star Trek movie with sqt, who runs a really cool sci-fi website. In that discussion, it dawned on me that my biggest beef with the new movie was that it lacked courage. Rather than making a truly interesting movie with depth, the filmmakers instead opted for a generic, shallow CGI summer blockbuster -- Pirates of the Caribbean In Space. That got me wondering, what kind of Star Trek movie should they have made? As I see it, the original Trek was essentially a character study acted out in the midsts of a series of morality tales, with a little action thrown in to make the series more accessible. I tried to follow that same formula, only making it a little more accessible for modern ADHD audiences. As you will see, I am borrowing heavily from several series episodes, but hopefully with a twist. . . First, I would begin with the incident mentioned in Obsession (gas cloud monster) where eager young (by the book) Lt. James Kirk of the USS Farragut freezes up for a split second, leading to the deaths of several officers including the captain he idolized (Captain Garrovick). Kirk freezes because he fears that shooting the gas cloud could kill his then-girlfriend (who is the science officer on the Farragut). This gives us the question of whether or not Kirk can make the truly hard decision of sacrificing someone he loves to save others. Fast forward several years. A no-longer-by-the-book, Kirk boards the Enterprise for the first time as Captain. He is replacing the very popular Captain Pike, which gives us a chance to see if Kirk can win over the crew. Spock, who is already on the Enterprise, was Pike’s science officer and represents the voice of reason. Sulu, also already on board, represents the voice of Pike’s crew. McCoy comes on board for the first time with Kirk, but has not previously known Kirk -- he will be the voice of the audience. Also coming on board with Kirk, as second officer of the Enterprise, is Kirk’s best friend from Academy days. These characters will let the audience see Kirk’s actions being judged from different perspectives. Kirk’s first assignment is to take the science team to the outer rim of the galaxy to investigate and cross over an energy barrier that rings the galaxy and seems to hold it together. The science team includes Kirk’s (now ex) girlfriend from the beginning of the film. She still pines for Kirk, but he has an aversion to her because of the bad memories of the Farragut incident. This gives us a potential romantic interest and lets us see how Kirk is dealing with his own past. Moreover, you can add the element of him trying to resolve the idea that he wants a relationship but simultaneously has come to believe that a relationship would interfere with his duties as Captain. Kirk tries to take the ship through the barrier, causing the ship to become damaged. Several people die and a handful of people start developing strange ESP powers -- including the ex and the best friend. As the crippled ship heads to the nearest Federation outpost, things start to go wrong. First, they encounter the remains of an alien starship. During the next hour of the movie, Spock will slowly decode that ship’s logs. He will learn that the crew came under attack from both within and outside of the ship, and that the alien captain blew up his own ship, but they won’t know why until near the end of the movie. In the meantime, strange things start to happen. They discover a ship following them on their sensors, but can’t get near it (like a sensor mirage). It’s like they are being stalked (“Balance of Terror”). People also start to see visions of ghosts walking the hallways and hear things pounding on the hull. Soon people are hallucinating, with deadly consequences. In this portion of the film, I would go for a level and style of horror similar to the Grudge -- uncomfortable and disturbing (a little shocking), but not gory. As these events begin, the crew believes that they have intruders aboard. Then they start to think that they brought something back from the destroyed ship. But as Kirk’s friends gain more and more powers it starts to become clear that they are manifesting these nightmares. Further, as their powers grow, they start “losing their humanity” as their powers corrupt their thinking. For example, you have the “power corrupts” angle, but you can also play other angles -- like being able to read minds and see the fear and hate within those minds causes them to turn nasty and paranoid. As these powers grow, they become increasingly menacing to the crew, until it is finally revealed that they are causing the manifestations the crew are experiencing. Spock tells Kirk that they cannot be allowed to reach a populated planet -- he also discovers that this is why the alien captain destroyed his own ship, so they would not unleash this on a populated planet. At the same time, McCoy is working on a cure, but likely won’t find one in time. Kirk is now faced with THE choice -- egged on in multiple directions by Spock and McCoy. He can’t let them reach the nearest outpost, and he must protect his crew, but can he kill his friends in cold blood? That is the very issue Kirk could not resolve at the beginning of the film. In terms of adding a little action, as Kirk is making the decision, I would have the “sensor ghost” (now nearly fully manifested) finally attack the Enterprise. This would be the final trigger that pushes Kirk to make the decision. So does he kill them? Yes, but if this is written well, the audience should not be sure until he does it that he will actually do it. Then wrap it up with a speech about duty, and stressing that while space exploration is dangerous, it is in our nature to take risks. The end. I think this movie does a good job of keeping the feel of the original, updating it, and creating a movie that is both challenging to the audience and yet accessible. Also, this movie leaves the door open for all kinds of stories in the future, whereas the new movie really can only lead to more CGI action flicks.