I think TFF also explores interesting themes and can be very thought provoking if you want it to be. And judging by the reaction to TMP and TFF, it doesn't sell well. TUC also deals with interesting dilemmas.
Actually, ST:TMP sold extremely well!
I'm afraid ST VI left me slightly underwhelmed. Too many elements felt like a colour-by-numbers painting. It was like I could hear the round table discussions by the creators as they put it all together. (Plus whoever wrote the captions under the pics of Cinefantastique
's film coverage felt the need to spoilerize the identity of the Enterprise
's traitor! I'd chosen not to read the article - which was safe, it turned out - but only the captions. Grrrr.)
It was just that people who knew the original series didn't find enough of the other things
they liked about ST.
I came to TMP as a newbie, with only scant knowledge of ST via TAS and some random eps of TOS. While I tried to find someone who wanted to go and see TMP with me, I bought and devoured the novelization in a weekend, and then raced off to see the movie. I cannot convey the incredible immersive feeling of seeing TMP for that first time. I was in
that movie. From the moment of walking down the curtained art deco corridors of the cinema, to Ilia's Theme being piperd through the foyers, to the visuals on the screen.
Whether it was cerebral or not, I didn't care. I've always wanted to recapture that feeling in a cinema again, of being totally consumed by a movie and popping out the other end feeling like I'd been on an incredible journey, and only a few films have done it for me as successfully. "Superman: The Movie" (almost), "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and, more recently, both
of Bad Robot's Trek efforts!
(On a tiny b/w TV, as a teenager in the 70s catching random movies during all-night movie marathons, "Silent Running", "Barbarella" and "Godspell", were almost
just as immersive. How I wish I'd seen those
on the big screen first...)
So I don't really care how "cerebral" a film is, I want it to suck me in, make me forget I'm in a cinema, and to spit me out the other side with a blissful grin on my face. And to retain memories that stay with me forever.
New fans will dilute the gene pool, so to speak, and water down fandom so as to become mainstream,thus taking something away from them.
Well, I was made to feel exactly that in 1980. (Not by everyone, but some.) That if only I'd been there at the beginning, like they were, I'd feel differently about ST:TMP. I'd realise why it was not good "Star Trek".
A few years later, I was president of the club and us (now-so) newbies tried to be more open to the influx of new
newbies who were swept into the fold by first ST IV and then the juggernaut that was TNG.
Because we had intelligent insiders like Wesley and his mom, and they were hits!
You realise, of course, that for the first four seasons, Wil Wheaton got more fan mail than anyone else
, followed by Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner.