After numerous issues behind the scenes, director Justin Lin revealed this week that Star Trek Beyond has finally begun filming. With the franchises 50th anniversary coming next summer, Paramount no doubt wants to make sure that they knock it out of the park with the third installment in the reinvigorated franchise.
Six months ago, trekkies young and old went into the most extreme case of fanboy rage seen on the internet since Ben Affleck was cast as Batman. The meltdown began after word spread about how Paramount execs claimed to want the next Star Trek movie to be more like Guardians of the Galaxy, and less like Star Trek.
Before you grab your pitchforks, allow me to play devil’s advocate for a minute. Like all of the other movies in the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge hit. Warner Bros. new DC universe will undoubtedly make a killing as well. Disney is going to be rolling in even more cash when Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out. Fox is still doing fairly well in the superhero genre, and MGM is eagerly anticipating another Bond film. At the end of the day, all Paramount is left with besides Star Trek is the Mission Impossible franchise, which doesn’t compete at nearly the same level.
They want something that can play in the big leagues, and feel that Star Trek is it. And it could actually work. However, if they abandon what has made the brand so beloved, they’re idiots.
The Abramsverse movies breathed life into the once-stalled movie series. While opinions on the movies vary, they included a lot of what made Star Trek so beloved. Even Star Trek Into Darkness, which was met with mixed reviews among fans, brought the issues of terrorism, drone strikes, and spy networks run amuck, and channeled them into an entertaining story. It was a formula that Star Trek had used again and again when taking on such topics as racism, the cold war, and gender equality.
At first, I was worried that Paramount would be taking my favorite science fiction franchise and watering it down in a shrewd attempt to try and capture new fans. Truth be told, I’m still holding my breath a bit. Thankfully, there are a few things that give me hope.
Justin Lin and Simon Pegg
If you’re a fan of the Fast and the Furious movies, you’re probably familiar with Justin Lin. He is largely credited with bringing the series back to prominence after sliding into the director’s chair for 2009’s Fast & Furious. Lin has recently come out as a lifelong trekkie, which should give all fans reason to breathe a sigh of relief. The last thing we want is to be saddled with another Stuart Baird.
Lin may be handling things behind the camera, but it is co-star Simon Pegg (who plays Scotty) that is penning the script. Pegg is a deceptively talented writer. Even if he is receiving a lot of studio pressure to lighten things up and insert more obvious gags, I’m holding out hope that he keeps the dialogue and interaction between the characters as it has been. The best humor in Star Trek has always been subtle, deriving more from well-timed wit than slapstick.
A Great Cast
Speaking of the characters, I’m happy to report that the cast for this movie is shaping up beautifully. Not only are all of the main characters from the last two movies coming back, but we also have some great additions coming on board. Idris Elba is heavily rumored to be joining the cast in an undisclosed ‘villain’ role. While Pegg has insisted that he is not a Klingon, the rest of us can still hope, right?
Also joining the cast and crew is Sofia Boutella, who broke out in last year’s Kingsmen. Information on her role is sketchy at best. She could be playing another villain, or she could be playing a competing Starfleet captain. Either way, it’s a great choice.
Going Boldly Once More
Pegg has promised new aliens, and a return to deep space. When we see the crew of the USS Enterprise, they will be deep into their five-year mission. Since these movies are taking place in an alternate reality, who knows what they might encounter?
We have had two films dealing with Earth, the Federation, and the destruction of Vulcan. Our crew and ship are established, and they are ready to encounter what’s out there. Putting the USS Enterprise back into the wild is fantastic. With two trekkies steering the ship, we may be getting a great mix of intellectual science fiction and genre fun.
Over the decades, Star Trek has been able to adapt to a wide range of stories. From the shady spy games of Section 31 in Deep Space Nine, to the delicacy of first contact explored in The Next Generation, it has proven itself to be one of the most adaptable franchises out there. As long as Lin allows his characters room to breathe as he has done in the past, and Pegg sticks to his guns on refusing to dumb down cinema, I am going to keep the faith.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find my communicator pin!