Wednesday, February 13, 2013

By the Numbers: Why STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Might Suck

I want Star Trek Into Darkness to be good. I thought the 2009 reboot was everything Hollywood does best, and I hope the follow-up lives up to the expectations set by Star Trek. But alas, for every Spider-Man 2 there's a Matrix Reloaded or, God help us, Speed 2: Cruise Control. I am sadly unenthusiastic about the Into Darkness trailers, but hoping to be surprised. Lacking any real insight into what's happening, I'll do my impression of ESPN and run some numbers.

Bear with me, folks. We're going down the rabbit hole...

The Creatives - 5.67

J.J. Abrams is currently hailed as some kind of directing demi-god, which is weird, because he's only directed three movies that have been released, which I would assign an average nerd co-efficient of only 6.3 (Mission: Impossible 3 = 5, Star Trek = 9, Super 8 = 5).
Make enough great TV shows, kids, and you too
can awkwardly remake

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci -- stalwarts from the Abrams cast of regulars -- have some impressive sci-fi credentials, but some equally deadly ones. By my count, these two have written seven produced feature films in the last eight years. God bless them, anybody who can do that in Hollywood deserves a reverent doff of the cap. But to my taste, they only have one standout accomplishment (Star Trek), and their other films include the Michael Bay extravaganzas The Island, Transformers, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, as well as Cowboys and Aliens and The Legend of Zorro. We'll say they clock in at a generous 5.

Number of Recycled Tropes in the Trailer - 3

We don't know who the villain is, but the Internet believes him to be either Khan (TOS episode Space Seed and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) or Gary Mitchell (TOS re-shot pilot Where No Man Has Gone Before). While he's probably neither, he is clearly some type of superhuman bent on mass destruction. Not only is this a familiar trope from the old timeline, but it's the plot of pretty much each of the first four or five episodes of The Original Series. It's a little long-in-the-tooth already, even without knowing who he is. Also, the Enterprise appears to be destroyed in the Super Bowl ad. This was not only a pivotal moment in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but also in my childhood. I'm unlikely to suffer the same way again at seeing the ol' girl go down in flaming bits a second time. And finally, there's a quick shot in the trailer of Kirk kneeling down, pressing his hand up against some glass enclosure, with someone else inside of it pressing his hand back against Kirk's. This is probably Spock, and is clearly evocative of Spock's unforgettable death scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I am equally unlikely to feel much at going through the same motions again. Even if new Spock is inside there.

It literally takes them 15 minutes to go from
the space dock to the Enterprise. Fifteen. Literally.
The Odds of Evens - 5

It is a widely accepted belief that all of the odd-numbered movies in the original Kirk-and-Spock series of films kinda sucked. Some of them a lot. But in 2009, Abrams, Kurtzman, and Orci altered the timeline. In so doing, there's a 50/50 chance that they also altered the natural order of sequel suckage. On this new, different timeline where Kirk never knew his father, it is entirely possible that the even-numbered films are destined to suck, no matter what.

The Odds of Lightning Striking Twice - Not Good

We have the same creative team returning for this film, which Francis Coppola and Mario Puzo made work for The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II, but otherwise has a pretty poor track record. Sam Raimi avoided this pattern twice, by either adding or changing writers between both The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II and Spider-Man and Spider-Man II. George Lucas did it between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. You know who stayed the course, though? The Wachowskis. On the Matrix sequels.

So in my totally haphazard and unscientific analysis, this gives me a coefficient, even throwing out the lightning thing, of only 4.55. That means there's a 55% chance that the new Star Trek movie will kinda suck. Hey, I'm rooting against that being the case, but the numbers are in...kind of.