A lot of debate has been swirling around the internet lately with regards to Star Trek Into Darkness's standing amongst the fan community. A recent fan convention in Las Vegas not only saw the film booed at its mere mention, but also found it voted as the Worst Star Trek Film Ever. Yes, that's right; these fans say The Motion Picture (used to cure insomnia) and The Final Frontier (nearly The Final Film-tier) are better than Into Darkness! A more recent convention saw fans treat Into Darkness with a kinder sixth place ranking but that still didn't stop TrekMovie.com from definitively stating that "Star Trek is broken" (because Nemesis opening second to a Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy and making less than the Nick Cannon film that opened that same weekend meant Trek was perfectly healthy).
That said article argues that Into Darkness lacks Gene Roddenberry's vision, isn't meaningful and that moviegoers are tuning elsewhere. I guess $460 million in global box office receipts, the biggest total of any Star Trek film, is plenty of cause to say that moviegoers aren't tuning in. Let's also not forget that STID holds an 87% rating on the film review site RottenTomatoes.com, one of the highest rankings for any Star Trek film, but I suppose that's reason enough to believe that STID didn't resonate with audiences or critics. By the way, moviegoers gave the film a 91% approval rating.
I will soon be posting my review of Star Trek Into Darkness, something I've been trying to form all summer, but first I want to share my opinion on the state of Star Trek.
Star Trek is alive and kicking!
It has found a wider audience than ever before. While 2009's Star Trek may have made more money domestically, Into Darkness saw the largest overseas audience in franchise history. The last two films have also been hits with critics and general audiences alike and new fans have been won over, accomplishing what five TV series and ten previous movies were unable to do. Into Darkness may not have been the Dark Knight-like smash Paramount had been hoping for, but it can't be disputed that it's been a popular and financial success.
So what about Star Trek is broken? In my opinion, it's not the franchise that's broken; it's the fans. Star Trek fans have always been a tricky group to please. Some prefer Deep Space Nine over Voyager and vice versa. Some like only the original series and none of the spin-offs. It really comes down to everyone's particular taste. But one thing is certain; with five series and nearly eight hundred television episodes, there's quite a lot of history that's been built over the course of fifty years. The most die-hard fans can tell you who said what in which episode and whether or not it contradicts something that someone else said five seasons ago in another series! Because of that, many of them expect whoever makes Star Trek to adhere to the universe that's already been crafted without exception!
Trek fans, therefore, have become narrow-minded.
Thus their problem with what's been deemed the Abrams-verse. The point of the 2009 film was to wipe the slate clean of the continuity that was bogging down the franchise and to start fresh while still respecting what's come before. Abrams succeeded, especially since it was specifically stated that these new films took place in a new timeline. Yet die-hard fans aren't satisfied. Some are even miffed that Khan was used in the film in a different fashion from before. If comic book fans were as particular as Trek fans, The Dark Knight would've been trashed endlessly for its use of the Joker who had already been used in 1989's Batman, even though both films exist separate from each other. Being so close-minded goes against the very spirit that Star Trek has spent fifty years proclaiming!
Into Darkness isn't a perfect film but some fans are unwilling to accept it simply because it's different and doesn't fit into what they want to see...whatever that is. J.J. Abrams and his team have taken the universe and interpreted it for a new age. Star Trek was all but dead after Enterprise went off the air in 2005 after they spent episode after episode of doing the same thing and viewers weren't buying it. Abrams has found a formula that puts butts in the seats and has audiences wanting more. Trek fans are like that group of people who like a really cool indie band until everybody else eventually finds it and it becomes popular; then the original fans stop liking it because it's now so popular!
If fans of Star Trek really want to honor the franchise they love then they need to be willing to accept the infinite possibilities for interpretation that exist. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and they don't have to like it, but they should at least give it a chance.