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Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Star Trek" movie could be latest hit -- or miss -- in TV to movie trend

Movies that came from TV shows roughly fall into three categories: the good, the bad and the ugly. Think "South Park: The Movie," "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "McHale's Navy." Seriously, they made a movie out of "McHale's Navy" and it starred Tom Arnold. That's all you need to know.

Some of my favorite movies – although perhaps not on the American Film Institute's best list – are movies that went to the silver screen from the small: "Mission Impossible," "The Fugitive" and the "South Park" movie. Even this year, we saw two television shows from different eras – "Get Smart" and "Sex and the City" – make excellent transitions to the multiplex. The worst of the bunch tend to fall short either by miscasting (Tom Arnold replacing the brilliant Ernest Borgnine as Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale) or adding more cheese to an already cheesy show best suited for the small screen ("Dukes of Hazzard").

In May the nerds of the world will rejoice (or not) when the latest "Star Trek" franchise -- a total reboot of the franchise by "Lost" and "Alias" creator J.J. Abrams -- hits theaters. Now, I'd be remiss if I didn't admit to my excitement for this movie and confess that I have been a "Star Trek" fan as long as I can remember. However, the last few movies (and a few of the original ones -- Star Treks I and V come to mind) have even left the most ardent fans wishing for some sort of Klingon death match to put them out of their misery.

Abrams -- who has confessed he preferred "Star Wars" as a kid in this "Entertainment Weekly" interview -- said his mission was to expand the appeal without ruining the optimism of the show. Easier said than done. Everyone knows that Trekkers (call them Trekkies and they will curse at you in Cardassian) are not an easy bunch to appeal, nor is it easy to sell the idea and feel of a 1960's TV show that came out before a man landed on the moon to a 21st century audience.

But I have faith.

Abrams has the appropriate credentials (sci-fi, television, action movies -- we'll forgive the screenplay credit for 1998's "Armageddon") to pull it off, so I predict -- perhaps selfishly so -- that this could be one of those "good" ones. Recasting and reimagining the cast of the original "Star Trek" (that's Capt. Kirk, Spock, Scotty to you non-Trekkers) as their younger, pre-Starship Enterprise selves is bold and, well, forgive the pun, an enterprising move. Fan or not, check out the trailer below:

There's always a chance that beyond some fancy action, it could still end up in the "bad" category... but unless it totally sucks it up, it's doubtful it'll stoop to "McHale" levels of recasting blasphemy. We'll just have to wait and see.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

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