This week and next are all about Star Trek….
I continue to be impressed with virtually everything about this fan-based production. The sets are dead-on replications from TOS; the soundtrack and audio & visual F/X sound and look retro-wonderful; and the writing has been surprisingly good, fitting right in with the original episodes. The acting has been hit-or-miss, but generally better than other fan-based shows. Spock and (especially) Captain Kirk are the standouts, imho. Episode 4 gives Vic Mignona even more time to shine as Kirk, since the episode centers on “ghosts” from Kirk’s past and his struggling to deal with them at a psychological level. (Meanwhile, the rest of the crew wonders if their captain is losing his marbles.) Makes for some nice character-driven moments. All of this happens during a diplomatic mission, which turns into an armed confrontation, and the solution is literally trapped in Kirk’s partially-amnesiac mind.
**SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT**
The one thing that really bugged me about the episode was that, in order to prevent mass destruction of their soon-to-be allies, the Enterprise ends up intervening at the last second in a way that they could easily have done hours earlier. But, then, that would have eliminated much of the suspenseful element, which could have made for a much duller episode. I just wish the writers had been a bit more inventive. Overall, though, it was another fine episode from the STC cast and crew. Plus, I have also discovered that they already finished and made available episode 5, “Divided We Stand”, which involves Kirk and one or more other crewmembers somehow time-traveling back to Civil War era America. Could be fun!
You may remember that I wrote about the upcoming Star Trek Beyond (aka installment #3 of NuTrek or “JJ Trek”) back in May, after Justin Lin signed on as director and Simon Pegg (with Doug Jung) was handed writing duties. They had half the usual time (i.e., ~6 months vs. ~1 year) to put something together, since the project was already in pre-production. Pegg describes writing the film — not to mention the added pressure felt from Trekdom — as an emotional thrill-ride but “pretty fun”. Filming wrapped in mid-October, so it is now in post-production and scheduled for release on July 22, 2016. (As if you didn’t know that….)
Many of us fans are concerned about the look and tone of these new films. Early on, Pegg said, “it’s a story about frontierism and adventure and optimism and fun.” He has also given assurances that they are “incorporating elements from the TV shows and returning to the spirit of The Original Series.”
“It’s going to be spectacular, but we’re going to underpin that with some genuine 50th Anniversary ideas about what’s happening in our world and the Star Trek world and try to make it a bit thoughtful too.”
This sounds like it could be pretty good, as long as it is provocative without getting preachy. I’m just hoping and praying that the Paramount bigwigs’ overriding obsession with “accessibility” and formulaic blockbuster-iness doesn’t result in another un-Trek-y movie. Certainly, one thing Star Trek Beyond has going for it is acclaimed British actor Idris Elba in the chief villain role. Elba seems quite excited about it and was particularly intrigued by his character.
“Simon [Pegg] and the team have written a very interesting, complex journey for my character. You’ve never seen me play a character like this. I think Star Trek has prided themselves as being quite classic when it comes to villains — like, ‘he’s a guy who wants to end the world,’ there’s no doubt about that. But in this version of the film, there’s a slightly different twist to that. It’s quite an interesting journey, which I think is groundbreaking for the franchise. But, it still keeps with the ‘classic bad guy is a classic bad guy’ tone.”
“Groundbreaking”? We shall see. (Please don’t suck….)
There had been talk (and I think I mentioned it before) that there was some uncertainty whether or not the current cast would return for a fourth film. Of course, that all could have been part of the usual tactics employed in contract (re-)negotiations. Regardless, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto successfully renegotiated their contracts to include a fourth movie (with sizable raises), and a few weeks ago it was announced that Star Trek 4 has been approved and tentatively scheduled for 2019. No word, yet, on the rest of the crew. Let’s just hope that the fans, new and old alike, enjoy 2016’s Star Trek Beyond enough that we want another sequel. Also, while I haven’t seen announcements for it, IMDB has a listing for Star Trek 5 (2021), with one rumor being that it will be a TNG reboot, while somehow still following the overall story arc of the preceding four films.
If you happen to be a Star Wars fan, too, and plan on watching the seventh installment in that franchise when it hits theaters in a few days, you will also get to see the official trailer for Star Trek Beyond (and a few other genre films) on the big screen. I know I’ll be there! Of course, some of you who don’t care for SW will go anyway, just for the ST trailer. Nerds!
Part 2 — phase 2? — next week…