Lately I’ve had a chance to watch a couple of older science fiction movies and with the Star Trek trailer being released I’ve come to realize that no matter where and when a movie takes place it’s nothing without good characters. I’m not talking about just the witty, super cool hero or that evil, taking over the world bad guy and their silly entourages. I’m talking about characters who have to make tough moral decisions based off their background.
An example was Westworld. Here we find someone who has to decide if it’s OK to kill something that resembles humans in every way except its hands. Initially he hesitates, but once he does then he can’t stop. Of course that decision comes back to him when the machines turn on the people and he is chased by the very machine that he killed several times. A tough moral decision had big repercussions.
How about a movie like Sunshine? There is a movie with one tough moral decision after another, but look at the characters. They all bring something to the table in making those decisions, and that is because of their varying backgrounds and opinions. Without the depth of characters in this movie it becomes just another space movie where they are trying to save the world.
What about Star Trek? Here is a series of movies and shows that have been completely character based and most importantly how these characters deal with one moral issue after another. After watching the new trailer it will be interesting to see what moral issues J.J. Abrams has placed before these characters, especially since these characters should be at the start of establishing their moral stances. This level of morality is something that has to follow these characters, and to the audience even preceeds them.
You see what will make Star Trek and other science fiction movies good is whether you can take those same characters and same moral problems out of the science fiction world and they still work. So when you watch Star Trek imagine it taking place now with the same people but instead it’s a naval boat and the aliens are really just on another naval boat from another country. Will it still work? Hopefully, and perhaps then it has taken a step in the direction of a good, maybe even great, science fiction movie.