Saturday 26 September 2020

The Trek Movie-verse

 The Observer reports that Noah Hawley wants to make a more cerebral Star Trek movie, should his version ever get off the ground. Trek Movie also picked up on this, and give a nice summation of the current status of the Trek movies, which basically runs thus: the fourth Kelvin timeline movie is back on the table, and is apparently the frontrunner, while Hawley and Tarantino both have projects rumbling in the background.

It's all a bit to-and-fro, isn't it? The Kelvin timeline/Abramsverse film was scrapped previously, after bouncing between directors, because the studio wouldn't front the cash needed to get the cast. Given that the core of this treatment was the return of George Kirk, and his meeting with his son Jim, refusing to pay the big bucks needed for megastars was a very stupid decision. The rationalisation was that the third film, Star Trek Beyond, didn't make the money it should have done, but I still feel that this was due to the terrible marketing campaign for it. 2016 was the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek, yet the film was barely trailed, let alone capitalising on the highly marketable timing. (Compare to Doctor Who at the height of its powers in 2013, with its fiftieth anniversary special simulcast and cinema-shown all over the world.)

However, both the stars they needed are now a big, big deal. Chris Pine has become a star because o Star Trek, and now has his pick of projects, while Chris Hemsworth is of course a global megastar due to his role as Thor in the Marvel movies. You can't get people like that with paltry offers. So the idea to switch to new, lower budget, more original projects in the Trek universe is a good way round this. Now, though, with Trek back on the small screen in a big way (the exact opposite situation to 2009 when Abrams's Star Trek was released), there's clearly room to make money. So the new approach appears to be a tentpole blockbuster, and spending money is again on the agenda.

Now, I really want to see the George Kirk film, but Hawley's approach appeals more. Although Beyond was a smarter film than either of its predecessors, it was still very action and effects-based. A smaller movie could allow a more cerebral take. Legion is a good example of how Hawley's approach can work: although it's very effects-based as well, at its core it's a smart character drama. (His approach to an Aliens series sounds equally interesting.)

Tarantino's project looks like it's on the backburner, and to be honest, it always looked like a bit of a pipedream. Nonetheless, it could happen, although it would doubtless blow much of its budget just on the director. Tarantino reportedly wants to make it a sequel or remake of the TOS episode "A Piece of the Action," which sees Kirk and crew deal with a planet of Chicago gangsters. This could actually work really well as a lower-budget movie, and Tarantino really gets sixties TV (as Once Upon a Time in Mexico shows), as long as he can avoid the temptation to make it as violent as his usual material.

Really, though, the best thing would be to give them all a go. DC/WB have wisely stopped trying to capture Marvel's success with a broad, interconnected cinematic universe, and are instead putting out idiosyncratic individual films with varying budgets and degrees of connections. This could work very well with Trek. The TV slate has shown series with wildly different styles and approaches can complement each other, and a varied approach could work on film as well.

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