Tales from the Kelvin Timeline?

2981b05076069beaeecd28a09aedf15d1467699631Did you know that the JJ-movie-verse (now officially coined the Kelvin Timeline) is now a part of Star Trek Online? All you need to do is look around ESD or in the Badlands BZ; there is no shortage of iEnterprises and Robocop’s Vengeances in evidence. There hasn’t been too much in-game explanation as to where these ships come from other than the cursory “someone mucked around the timeline”, but it unexpectedly stirred up some serious vitriol among the playerbase, and it all stems from the fact that many Trekkies despise JJ’s version of Trek… and the JJ-ships represent the new movie universe.

As I stated in a previous post, as entertainment goes, I actually quite liked the JJ movies. They’re action-packed, they’re fast-paced, they’re eye-popping, the characters and actors are hip – they have all the right elements to be summer blockbusters. Sure there are some fairly significant plot holes, but I thought the pacing was brisk enough that the plot holes didn’t immediately undermine the movies (trust me, nothing derails a movie as much as a plot hole that the audience immediately recognizes).

A significant subgroup of Trekkies argues that JJ’s version is not “true” Star Trek. Well, is it? That’s debatable. JJ took the Star Trek name and the TOS characters, re-imagined and repackaged it for the new millennium. Reimagining/repackaging has been all the rage in Hollywood in the last decade, some were done well and others not as much (Look at Green Hornet – Seth Rogen you bastard!)… but let’s face it, the JJ-Trek movies did give an effective face lift to an aging Sci-Fi franchise that, even though it still has a sizable fanbase, is old and considered by the masses as the epitome of nerddom. TOS is barely watchable to kids nowadays, and even TNG/DS9/Voyager are dated by modern standards that they likely can’t achieve the necessary ratings to stay afloat; the new movies managed to make a new generation of kids think Star Trek is cool and hip and sexy, which I would consider a good outcome in continuing the life of the franchise. It’s sad, but I think that without a flashy update, the traditional Star Trek probably won’t have a viable fanbase beyond the current generation.

So what about the Trekkies who take personal offense that JJ-Trek threw out the core concepts of Star Trek, and that it is not their Trek? They argue that when JJ tossed out the more cerebral side of Trek in favor of action, he dumbed down the franchise and didn’t stay true to Roddenberry’s vision. They also argue about various minutiae that got changed from TOS to JJ-verse, such as character personalities and details. So in a sense, they’re right — this is not the same Star Trek of old, and on that alone some people will reject it. The truth of the matter is that we’re human, and humans are creatures of habit who prefer old, familiar surroundings – we are hard-coded to dislike change, especially changes to things we’ve enjoyed… Rose-tinted glasses and all. Rightly or wrongly, rosy retrospection is very much a part of our perception: TOS was far from perfect by any stretch of the imagination.

One important point that I will concede though, is the kind of legacy the JJ Trek-reboot leaves behind. When TOS captured the imagination of a generation of engineers and scientists in the 60’s, it inspired a surprisingly number of technological advances in the real world. It addressed societal issues, and promoted diversity and equality. Over the decades, Star Trek had a cultural impact. Subsequent Trek series have done the same to lesser extents, but the JJ-Trek movies offer nothing of the sort. These are action movies made purely for entertainment, not inspiration, and in that sense I feel this new incarnation will never measure up. Yet this may be a reflection of our times as well; these days, who watches TV or movies to be inspired anymore? Still, it’s nonetheless disappointing that with the reboot, Star Trek will be just another run-of-the-mill Sci-Fi movie franchise, when its heritage was so much more.

Meanwhile, back on Star Trek Online — evidently some people are feeling an acute pain in their pancreas when they see the JJ-iEnterprise and Vengeances now invading the real Star Trek timeline. Reports have been made that some folks have turned their ire to the owners of those new vessels, private-messaging them with vitriol and leaving queues as soon as they see one of these ships on the team. One Reddit poster even expected Cryptic to make new ship costumes for the JJ ships so he doesn’t have to look at those eyesores.

Listen: no one is saying you have to like the JJ-ships or his movies. But the above? Gosh, people, you’re taking it way too far.

I have my list of lockbox alien ships that I dislike (especially the various Delta Quadrant ships and especially the Herald vessels), but I don’t begrudge people for flying them. I most certainly don’t go around PMing them about how ugly their ships are, or expect Cryptic to create ship costumes so I don’t have to see them; if anything I’d just quietly get out of the way. As lockbox ships go, I find the iEnterprise and Vengeance to be a lot less objectionable than the alien ships: at least they both have the Federation aesthetic, and if I don’t like JJ-Trek I can just pretend they’re some other random ship classes. Why go out of my way to be angry at something that doesn’t affect me?

It’s also ironic that one of the main principles of Star Trek is embracing diversity, yet here they are demanding that something be excluded. Pshaw, I say!

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14 thoughts on “Tales from the Kelvin Timeline?

    1. These ships are not just from an alternate timeline, but they’re time-traveling too since the JJ films took place in the mid 23rd Century when Kirk was fresh out of the Academy. Trying to explain all that is going to give everyone a massive headache. XD

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I second this. I mean, we’ve already had the mirror universe, so I’m sure they can figure something out for this other universe.

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  1. I couldn’t have said it better, Heidy. This is basically everything I’ve been thinking about the new JJ/Kelvin timeline, and you just nailed it.

    Even tho I’m not big on the new JJ-Trek, I totally agree that the franchise would’ve probably faded away and died without it.

    And I do like the whole look and feel of the new ships and stuff from the new movies, except for that ridiculous lens flare. Even JJ said it was “a bit much” and apologized for it. I hope it’ll be toned down or better yet, eliminated in the next movie.

    So I think the haters need to chill and realize that we’ve already kinda been thru this before, when TNG first came out. People were a bit divided over it too, as I recall. I was in high school at the time and had some mixed feelings on it myself. But eventually I and many other people ended up loving the new cast (well, except for Wesley – Will Wheaton even said he despised playing that character).

    So while there were some things in JJ-Trek/the Kelvin timeline that I felt could’ve been done better, overall I think it’s been a positive thing for the franchise and it’s opened up Star Trek for a new generation of fans, so I think in the long run it’ll be fine.

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    1. The big difference between the Abrams reboot and NextGen is that NextGen never said that the prior series never happened. The Abrams reboot means that the only “canon” Trek is the prequel series, Enterprise (and spoilery guess, it LOOKS like the ship being used to escape wherever the crew ends up in ST:Beyond is an Enterprise NX-series ship from the same series — again, just what it looks like from trailers).

      TOS, TNG, DS9 and VOY never happened (or are an alternate reality) due to the reboot.

      If I had to voice a criticism of the Abrams reboot, it would be (as stated in the original post) that it seems to have made Star Trek into Star WARS. Trek was, at least some of the time, science fiction, while Star Wars was science fantasy. The reboot, at least to date, really hasn’t demonstrated any science fiction. This is not intrinsically a bad thing, but it just made it less .. Trek, I guess, to me personally.

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      1. Agreed, your comment echoes what I said in my post. The reboot traded cerebralism for action-adventure – the new films are enjoyable eye candy, but doesn’t require many brain cells to watch. That does make the reboot less traditional Trek, but I would also argue that it’s successful in appealing/pandering to the new generation of moviegoers. Whether growing the fan base is worth compromising the core essence of the franchise — that debate will likely continue for a long time to come.

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      2. Fair points. At least TNG didn’t mess with the whole timeline and story by blowing up Vulcan and Romulus.

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  2. That’s the general impression I get from the JJ-Trek/Kelvin timeline movies too, Heidy, that they’re eye-candy and fun to watch as some generic action/adventure movies that we can just sort of turn off our brains and enjoy as the entertainment that they are, with a thin veneer of Star Trek over them.

    I also got the impression that they’d be great if they were their own unique franchise having nothing to do with Star Trek. Then I doubt they would’ve gotten so much hate from people.

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    1. Oh I think you underestimate the built-in appeal of a franchise. If JJ made an original SF movie in 2009 with Pine, Quinto and Saldana flying a generic starship around a generic universe, I doubt I would’ve gone to the theater to see it.

      Same reason why people still go to McD’s!

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      1. Oh, I don’t underestimate it; I get why they’d go with a time-honored and well-loved franchise, and profit off of it. No argument there. I’m just saying that the first two movies didn’t really feel like Star Trek, at least not to me, and I think I might’ve enjoyed those movies more had they been from a totally different and original sci-fi story, as long as they were well-acted and well-written. I haven’t seen Star Trek Beyond so I can’t really comment on it, but I’m told it’s a lot better than the first two “Kelvin Timeline” movies, so that’s encouraging.

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  3. “TOS is barely watchable to kids nowadays, and even TNG/DS9/Voyager are dated by modern standards that they likely can’t achieve the necessary ratings to stay afloat”

    I agree and I think it’s just the way TV and movies are made these days that have effectively cut off those older shows to a younger generation. A few months ago there was a particular TOS episode I wanted to watch, so I pulled it up on Netflix, and although the show was everything I remembered, it was also slow paced and plodding. Normal for TV episodes made in that day but a modern teenager couldn’t sit through it. If Star Trek is to survive, it has to be faster paced and more action packed, which is exactly what the movies brought to the timeline.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly my point! The fandom needs to recognize this and understand why the update is necessary for franchise sustainment. The fact that it involves less brains and more brawn, is just a reflection of the way our culture is changing and what our kids want as entertainment.

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      1. Maybe, but my problem with the Abrams reboot is that, to date, not having seen the newest movie, is that it is ALL brawn and NO brains.

        For example, Into Darkness relies on knowing the original timeline and who Khan is, but the actual Abrams-verse itself has neither the history nor the gravitas to make the emotional moments (the Khan reveal, Kirk’s “death,” or Spock’s “KHAAAAN!” cry) actually WORK. They aren’t earned within the actual story.

        I don’t mind if someone punches up the action, but there is no real thought-provoking going on. The “Motionless” Picture was too long and too staid, but it at least said something (granted, something already said in the series). Unless Beyond makes that statement, I have to say that the Abrams-verse is nice to look at, but, well, vapid 🙂

        That may well be a comment on society as well, but I think more of a balance could be struck.

        Even episodes like the Gorn one had something to say. No, I won’t kill … today. I really want to see the new Trek make some statements.

        All IMHO, of course. I bear no ill will to any who adore the new universe (I liked the first film, was VERY disappointed with the second, and have not seen the third).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Regarding Kirk’s “Death scene”: I made that exact comment to my friends — Spock losing control of his emotions to scream “KHAAAAN!” made no sense within the context of the movie. They’ve known each other only about a year, and Spock didn’t even cry at the loss of his mom. JJ’s Kirk and Spock didn’t spend 20 years as best buds like they did in TOS, so that felt terribly forced.

    Like I said though, I like the new movie’s flashiness enough that I’m willing to switch off my brain for a couple of hours to watch them, and they manage to draw in new fans. I think the real question is whether these new fans will stick around… because kids these days have so many entertainment options around to distract them, and flashy special effects aren’t going to keep anyone’s attention for very long.

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