It’s the mantra that’s drummed into the heads of every screenwriter who’s (supposedly) preparing a fresh take on an old idea.
And it’s especially important, if you’re doing a remake. Or a rebrand / relaunch of an existing franchise.

You have to give the audience what they expect from the brand – what they love, loathe, or fear. But you have to put a new spin on it, to re-engage their interest. And hopefully, pave the way for the new-old franchise to continue.

Not everyone succeeds in this.

I’m sure you can think of numerous examples (right, kids?) where your primary reaction is: “Why did they bother? The original was fine. Much better than this crap, anyway.”

Occasionally, though, someone gets it right.

Director J J Abrams, and the team that gave us “Star Trek,” for example.

I saw the film on DVD recently, and I’m currently picking my way through Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman’s screenplay (diligent screenwriter / eternal student that I am).

It’s all there. The cast of characters we know and love. The technology. The backdrop.

Same.

But it’s not played out exactly the way we remember.

Different.

They’ve achieved this by staying within the conventions of the science fiction genre: An alternate reality, where the same people exist, but their life situations have been altered.

And they’ve assembled a group of actors who are instantly recognizable as the people they’re supposed to be, in appearance and mannerisms. But there are no 1960s beehive hairdos in evidence. Modern-day vernacular. And inter-personal relationships that provide more than enough mileage for Star Trek 2, 3 and 4 (Or however many they choose to make). Where, presumably, we may get to see Klingons, the conman Harry Mudd, and those pesky Tribbles – in different circumstances, of course.

It works. It’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it.

Even if you’re not a devotee of the franchise, the film stands scrutiny as a good entertainment, in its own right.

Have a look at the trailer (or better yet, see the film), and judge for yourself.

Live long, and prosper.

Peace.

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