Do a Google search for “Sequels that are better than the original,” and you’ll be busy for an afternoon, at least until you get tired of reading the 100th list that points out that “The Empire Strikes Back” is better than “Star Wars.”
As a franchise, “Star Trek” has boldly gone many places, and not all of them have been good.
While the original series is legendary, and “Next Generation” improves on it, things started to fall apart with “Deep Space Nine,” which cribbed so much from “Babylon 5” that it felt like a cheat calling it “Trek” at all. “Voyager” upped the camp level and became the goofy uncle of the franchise. It was ridiculous, over the top, fun, but never very good. The less said about “Enterprise,” the better.
In 2009, J.J. Abrams rebooted the “Star Trek” movie franchise by making a “Star Wars”-style movie with “Star Trek” trappings. The second entry, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” was perhaps closer to “Star Trek,” but it cribbed so liberally from “The Wrath of Khan” that it barely registered as a distinct movie. And now we have “Star Trek Beyond,” which – aside from superficialities — is so far from being a “Star Trek” movie that I scoffed out loud at the conclusive “These are the voyages …” voiceover.
Like director J.J. Abrams’ 2009 “Star Trek” film, “Star Trek Into Darkness” gets all the Trek-isms correct. Everyone is still spot-on as alternate-universe versions of the iconic characters, Scottie and Chekov have thick accents, there are winks about red shirts, Bones says a variation on “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor …” and so forth.
1. In the new “Star Trek” movie, why doesn’t Spock, who has mastered time travel, go back in time to prevent the destruction of his home planet?
1. In “Return of the Jedi,” when the Ewok (I believe it’s Paploo, but I can’t check it because I don’t have my “Star Wars” library moved into my new place yet) jumps on the speeder bike, he immediately knows how to drive it. Specifically, he immediately knows where to find the override function that allows it to be driven by someone whose feet can’t reach the pedals. File this under the category of “things that happen in movies that you don’t think about on the first 146 viewings, but on the 147th viewing you realize it’s completely insane.”
Here are five random thoughts.
1. What does pop singer Adele mean when she asks, “Should I give up, or should I just keep chasing pavements?” As I understand it, the British phrase “chasing pavements” means “giving up,” so that would make the lyric redundant, wouldn’t it?
Director J.J. Abrams makes “Star Trek” respectable again with this origin tale that sets up everything we’ve seen in six TV series — I’m including the underappreciated cartoon — and 10 movies. (Well, “Enterprise” takes place before this, but who’s counting?) He also makes “Star Trek” cool for the first time.