It's exciting to me to see Star Trek become a box office success again, and we have to thank J.J. Abrams and his crew for injecting new life in the franchise.
But now J.J. is gone, working on some other obscure science-fiction empire, and Roberto Orci is going to try his hand at directing for the first time.
I know there is some concern about allowing a rookie to take over the director's chair, but I'm not worried. I've had a chance to hear firsthand some of the thought process that goes through Orci's mind, and while not everything he touches turns to gold -- you still can't ignore the success he and Alex Kurtzman have had over the last several years.
Yet, what I am concerned about is Star Trek taking the path that may win new fans, but alienate the old. And where the balance between being a cowboy, and being a thoughtful and intelligent diplomat is completely upended.
With that said, I wanted to offer some suggestions for Mr. Orci, as he gets ready to take on a monumental task. I mean, not only does he have to fill J.J.'s shoes, but he also has to try and make a very diverse fan base happy -- and neither are going to be easy. So who knows, maybe this will help.
The first word in the title is 'Star,' but the second word is not "Wars."
I don't believe in the separation of Spock and Vader, at least to the extent that liking the Star Trek franchise is mutually exclusive from liking the Star Wars franchise. You could say that I'm both a Trekker and a Warsie.
However, Star Trek is not Star Wars, and Star Wars is not Star Trek. And we get it — J.J. loves Star Wars, and he's doing Star Wars now. So let's remember that our franchise was created not by a George, but by a Gene ... as in Gene Roddenberry.
Gene had his flaws, like anyone else. But Gene also had a vision of what he would like the future to be. And that meant equality across the board — not just racial equality, but gender equality, too.
That means the women in "Star Trek 3" should not be treated like it's 1966, but instead like it's 2014 — or 2016, depending on where your head is at the moment. The Spock/Uhura relationship is interesting, but there is more to Uhura than just simply what's happening with her lover. She's a highly trained and very capable linguist who can not only tell the difference between Romulan and Vulcan, but can speak Klingon, kick Khan's ass, and probably create a new language for "Game of Thrones" all at the same time.
If Carol Marcus returns, she is more than just a pair of boobs. She's a scientist who in one timeline not only raised a son that Kirk more or less abandoned, but also helped develop the Genesis Device that allowed Spock to live a lot longer than he would've otherwise (and took out Khan and Kruge all at the same time).
Audiences are not interested in the damsel-in-distress scenario anymore, nor are they looking to see women play secondary roles to men. Gene Roddenberry had it right back in the mid-1960s when he felt it was more than appropriate to have a woman as the Enterprise's second in command. And while he might have given in to NBC to get rid of that character, it didn't stop him from working to make women more than just eye candy (although he couldn't get away from keeping "eye candy" on the list of qualifications).
Although his Trek movie was never made (but it should've been, it's a great story), Erik Jendresen spent a ton of time making sure that every word he wrote was true to the Star Trek universe. Even when he once shared with me this epic battle between Earth and the Romulans that had me on the edge of my seat — he was willing to tear that all up because I asked where the nuclear weapons were (remembering quite specifically what Spock said in "Balance of Terror.")
You need to know Star Trek inside and out, including Gene's philosophy. And hey, if you need help, I'm just a phone call away. You can use Erik as a professional reference if you like (I still wish someone would option that film).
No more winks at the past.
We got Leonard Nimoy in the first film, and Khan in the second film. All that's left is the Borg or Harry Mudd for the third film.
The audience is on board. They have accepted a new Kirk, a new Spock, even a new Enterprise. There is no need to try and pull us in with recognizable characters and situations. The Enterprise is finally on its five-year mission, and it's time to explore something new.
That means we leave the Ferengi, the Romulans, the Dominion, the Borg, and especially Shinzon on the shelf.
We want a new big bad that is awesome, and that is very new. Maybe even a new nemesis that could become a face that pops back up from time to time. Hell, I'm even interested in a two-film epic battle.
But let's explore the unknown. It's time.
'Star Trek' is set in the future, so let's keep it there.
No, I'm not saying we can't do a time travel film (please don't do a time travel film), but as much as I appreciate J.J. always wanting to keep it real ... it's hard for me to imagine this awesome futuristic starship called the Enterprise, complete with an Apple Genius Bar as a bridge, to be powered by old silos that look like they should be holding corn.
Yes, we get it, Kirk's from Iowa. But I doubt he had a say in the interior design of the engine room. And I have a hard time believing there is even enough room to hold all of that on such a small ship. I mean, this isn't the Enterprise-D. It's not even the Enterprise-A.
So let's not film in an old milk factory this time?
Do you know why people don't like Superman?
What does Superman have to do with Star Trek? Well, until 2009, nothing. But then this strange technology was discovered and abused called "transwarp beaming."
It was bad enough in the 2009 film that Kirk and Scotty were able to beam from a stationary spot to a ship moving at warp light years away. But it got even worse in "Star Trek: Into Darkness" when Khan decided he didn't need a ship, and could just ask Scotty to beam him to Kronos.
The only reason why I think this whole transwarp beaming was even created was so that no one ever asked for a remake of "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier." I can see McCoy now asking, "What does God need with a starship," and "God" responding with, "What are you talking about? I don't need no starship. I have a transwarp transporter. See ya, bitches!"
If we overpower our characters, then we have to invent new things to stop them. Just like Superman — he's way too overpowered. And now not only do we no longer have a need for starships, but we also solved death, thanks to a little bit of Khan's blood.
And please, don't forget what actually worked in the first film.
I know I'm being critical of the first two films, but that doesn't mean I don't like the films, or even adore the work that went into them. And don't forget the moments that truly brought this movie home.
The scene when Kirk is born, his father at the helm of a doomed starship and his mother on an escape transport trying to get away. When Thor, err, George Kirk heard the baby's first sounds, we had a very touching moment — a human moment.
The same came near the beginning of "Into Darkness," with a family's desperate trip to the hospital hoping for their daughter to get better. The piano music, the realism of that struggle — once again, a very human moment.
It's easy to get caught up in the special effects and the space battles, and all the crazy aliens. But the heart of Star Trek is not all that — it's how human it is. The Klingon chancellor's daughter might think I'm a racist for saying that, but considering we don't actually know any true space aliens (although I think One Direction is from Mars), I can get away with it.
If you want to go back and see Gene's true vision for Star Trek, watch the original pilot. No, not "Where No Man Has Gone Before," but "The Cage."
Star Trek is a human journey, and one we should be proud of. It's tough to fit that into a film, but if the Hunger Games can do it, then why can't we? And we don't even need to kill any kids to bring that point home.
I'm excited for "Star Trek 3," and what Roberto Orci brings to the table. And I pray to "Star Trek V" that he doesn't let us down.