Monday, 21 July 2014

Final Five for Three?

So that whole hashtag campaign to get Jonathan Frakes in the director's seat for Star Trek 3 seems to have amounted to nothing.

Frakes apparently wanted to direct the third movie from the alternative universe. To be fair, I would want to direct it but no-one got round to asking me. I can see what and why fans wanted the former Enterprise first officer to get the gig but the studio stood firm and while the publicity won't have done them any harm, they seem to have chosen another path.

Thing is the #bringinriker campaign didn't even see the seasoned director make the supposed final five.. Not only did Frakes not make the list but neither did rumoured Shaun of the Dead helmer Edgar Wright who was right in centre frame less than four weeks ago. God bless social media.

For those who haven't see the list, it supposedly contains Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), Daniel Espinosa (Safe House), Justin Lin (Fast & Furious), and Duncan Jones (Source Code). OK, so actually the last one has already been fairly vocal in ruling himself out because he has other personal projects he wants to focus on and complete in the next few years which really leave four. I guess if we wait a few more weeks someone will leak the proper list and if we're really lucky, the whole script. Do I actually believe this is the list? Not a jot to be honest. Hey, all rumours are good rumours in the media frenzy.

So where am I going here? Well I think that the choice to ignore the Frakes campaign is a bold and sensible move on the part of Paramount. His record is excellent and certainly when it comes to Star Trek he took charge on the brilliant First Contact but we seem to ignore that he also ran the show on Insurrection (bit harsh as I like it) and Thunderbirds. If the script is total guff it doesn't matter who directs it - my near-three year old son might as well have a go - because there's only so much a director can do if he's handed a story that doesn't work. Insurrection is a good example of that. Frakes does a solid job and makes it look great but the story is still average, two-part episode fare. 

Look at Nemesis. John Lagan admitted he was a massive Star Trek fan (and it overpowered him) as is Robert Orci and,  by association so is Jonathan Frakes.  Does over familiarity cause an issue?  I think so. JJ might not have dealt what we expected but at least his Star Trek was fresh and unhindered by the previous 40-odd years. I suspect Frakes could be too attached to the vision of the Prime Universe and cause more issues with what is allegedly an already unwieldy project. Get some fresh eyes and a fresh perspective which will move Trek forward and avoid stagnation. We love Frakes but I'm,  for one,  happy he's not on the list and fans haven't been listened to in this case. 

Having Frakes on board would, for the older fans be great, the comfortable duvet of familiarity, the comfort blanket of the 90's Star Trek but that can't happen. A new director may better understand the way to gel the new and original more than Abrams and will have Orci on hand as producer (he'll have the time since he's also dropped involvement with Power Rangers) but if that story isn't sorted then it's a losing battle from the beginning. However, with all the media furore around the production and it's still 18 months from release, it's sure to be a big summer blockbuster if only for people wanting to see what the result is of all this turmoil.  

Of course all these suggestions could be a brilliant bit of misdirection by Paramount/Bad Robot to get us off the scent and then we'll find out that Frakes has been helming for about six weeks. If this is the case, you can say you heard about it here first. 

One thing I don't agree with is the rumour that the film-makers are envisaging that the franchise can survive without catering for the original fans. That rumour does seem utterly, UTTERLY ridiculous as these are the core who provide a sizeable portion of the viewing market and constitute the majority who are buying the DVDs, blu-rays and other assorted merchandising before, during and after release. The average filmgoer will more than likely know that the third reboot movie marks the 50th anniversary of Star Trek unless they live under a massive rock but they aren't going to be doing much more than seeing the cinematic 3D experience. We're not saying that you have to retreat back to familiar ground but there has to be some tip of the hat to the original show. You owe it for giving you a box office success and also to me as I have hugely overused "seem", "apparently" and "supposed" far too much in this article.

The other rumour about the studio wanting Star Trek 3 to be more like Guardians of the Galaxy nearly made me cry. Jeez people, let Star Trek be Star Trek!!! Update and reboot yes, make it more accessible to a new fanbase; yes but don't plagurise others work. Let Star Trek be Star Trek and let Marvel do what Marvel do. I get that you want to replicate it's success and you do have Zoe Saldana but let that be as close as it gets please. I can't and don't want to imagine Kirk whacking on his mixtape of Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill as he blows up a squadron of D-4s. Star Trek doesn't need that kind of edge,  more action less thinking. It has its own identity and doesn't need to copy another for success. 

What's you take on the web of movements and words around the Star Trek 3 production? Still care...? Drop your thoughts below!