“All in all, it’s kind of a mess, but things do appear to be moving forward.” — Brent McKnight, CinemaBlend
I’m totally cheating on this.
I just read “Star Trek 3: What We Know So Far” by Brent McKnight at CinemaBlend and thought some of you might be interested. But, rather than a) give a brief comment on McKnight’s article or b) quote the beginning of McKnight’s article, then link to it, I decided to go a different route. Over at CinemaBlend, the article is broken into seven parts/pages, each with lots of ads (both video and static). I hate when they do that! So, feel free to go over there, if only to read McKnight’s fine article. But, if you want to stay on one page, with half as much text and little-to-no ads, I’ve got ya covered. (I just hope McKnight/CinemaBlend don’t sue me.)
I suppose the first thing to confirm about the third installment in the franchise reboot is that it is still scheduled for a July 8, 2016, release. That mid-summer date coincides roughly with fandom’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the original “Star Trek” series, which debuted on September 8, 1966. The next item of note is that the apparent title — registered with the MPAA, though not yet confirmed by Paramount — is the somewhat vague Star Trek Beyond. As McKnight notes, it’s bland but safe, and it could apply to a number of plots/themes.
Originally, the man shepherding the rebooted film series, J.J. Abrams, was scheduled to continue his directing responsibilities in the third installment. His sometime collaborator (and co-writer on the last two Trek movies with Alex Kurtzman), Roberto Orci, was tasked to co-write the new film, this time with relative newbies Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne. Then, Abrams left to work on the latest Star Wars sequel (while retaining a Trek producer credit), and Orci was given the director’s chair. But, Paramount higher-ups had concerns about the screenplay Orci et al. came up with. They thought it was “too Star Trek-y” and decided to throw it out. Producer Bryan Burk soon asked Simon Pegg (aka “Scotty”), along with Doug Jung (Confidence, “Dark Blue”), to write a new screenplay from scratch.
Naturally, fans didn’t like the “too Star Trek-y” comment. What does this mean? Most fans of the original series (and movies) are already concerned about the non-Trek-y feel & style of the last two movies. Does this comment by Paramount mean they will completely disregard those elements that made the franchise so unique and popular in the first place? According to Pegg, Paramount is (as usual) concerned with increasing the film/franchise’s accessibility for non-Trekkies, which they think/hope will translate to the huge success they see other adaptations of niche properties (e.g., Marvel’s Avengers) enjoying.
“As Pegg put it, the idea is to make a western or a heist film, but one full of Star Trek characters, to attract viewers that might otherwise be put off by the franchise name…. [The new emphasis on sweeping action and high adventure] isn’t going anywhere, but you also have to consider that The Original Series was once called Wagon Train to the Stars and envisioned as a space western. So this approach may not be as different as people initially think.”
On a positive note, Pegg didn’t accept the assignment lightly and seems to recognize the great responsibility he has to Trek fans and to what has gone before. Also, rumor has it that the Enterprise and crew will get a bit farther from Earth this time, beginning their famous five-year mission to “explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations….”, as longtime fans like myself have been hoping for.
Meanwhile, Orci also left as director. (He is still one of the producers, though.) Justin Lin, best known for the high-octane The Fast and the Furious franchise, was then brought in as replacement. This may have been a great move. We all know Lin can do action/adventure; the question will be how well his style translates over to science fiction, and Star Trek in particular.
All seven key castmembers (Pine, Quinto, Urban, Saldana, Pegg, Cho, Yelchin) are returning to their respective roles. Some of these “new cast” have been more accepted (e.g., Urban and Quinto) by fans than others, but overall they have a pretty good chemistry, and it’s probably best that none of the main characters are recast, at this point. According to McKnight, a few supporting actors have been rumored or attached to the film, but it’s the villains everyone wants to know about, and “there are a couple of potential doozies lined up.”
It is unknown whether or not the Klingons (aka “Blingons”, due to their piercings) will still be the primary antagonists. Popular British actor Idris Elba (“Luther”, Thor) has reportedly signed on for a villainous role, possibly as the main foe. Pegg insists Elba won’t be a Klingon, but that could be another head-fake (a la Cumberbatch/Khan). Whatever Elba plays will be fantastic, I’m sure. Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service) will play a substantial, possibly lead, role. She is presumed to be an antagonist, if not actually “bad” — most likely either McCoy’s ex-wife or a Starfleet adversary for Kirk, but “President of the Federation” is another possibility. Any of these could be a lot of fun, especially if Pegg & Jung’s writing is up to par!
That’s the wrap-up! Let’s just keep our fingers and toes crossed that, despite all the shake-ups and concerns, Star Trek 3 turns out to be a thoughtful, fun, and action-packed yarn that satisfies new and old fans alike, honors the 50-year legacy, and makes lots of money!