Damn It Feels Good to Be a Star Trek Fan
Star Trek Beyond was shaping up to be a trainwreck. Director J.J. Abrams had given up the director’s chair for the second sequel to his 2009 reboot to go make Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and his replacement, Roberto Orci, also left the project. And when Orci was replaced by Justin Lin—a guy best known for directing three Fast and the Furious films—fans began to fear an even more dumbed-down Star Trek. But critic Ryan Britt says the new film is fun and action-packed, and bodes well for future installments.
“I’m amped for the next Star Trek,” Britt says in Episode 214 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Especially if Simon Pegg is allowed to write another one of these films, I think the state of [the franchise] is way better than a Star Trek fan could have imagined five years ago, or even 10 years ago.”
Writer Anthony Ha also enjoyed the new film. Star Trek has a long tradition of promoting diversity, and Ha was pleased to see two Asian men, director Justin Lin and co-writer Doug Jung, playing such prominent roles.
“I was excited about the creative team involved,” Ha says. “I was excited that it was the first Star Trek movie not directed by a white guy.”
Ha agrees that the Star Trek franchise is in great shape, though he feels the excitement has cooled a bit since the first reboot.
“I do think there was this moment, especially maybe in 2009, when the movie had just come out, when it was like, ‘Oh man, not only is Star Trek back, but it’s going to be like the next Star Wars,’” he says. “And I think it hasn’t quite achieved that level of cultural prominence, but I’m not sure it needs to.”
“I hope they understand and respect enough of what makes Star Trek completely unique from a lot of other science fiction, namely the humanism and the sense of optimism,” she says. “Especially with everything so horrible in the world right now, we really need that classic Star Trek.”
Listen to our complete interview with Ryan Britt, Anthony Ha, and Sara Lynn Michener in Episode 214 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Sara Lynn Michener on childhood:
“Star Trek represented everything that I was being starved of during my upbringing. … I was raised by conservatives and I was homeschooled, so I was watching Star Trek when it was on UPN for six hours a day at one point. And they had no idea how subversive it really was. I actually had one of my teachers at a Christian private school that I went to—I wrote an essay and I used an example from Star Trek, and he appeared behind my shoulder and started reading, and he leaned in really close and said, ‘You know, you should be careful with Star Trek. Those kinds of ideas are dangerous.’ And that’s when I knew—I mean, I was like 13, and I thought, ‘Yes. Excellent.’”
Anthony Ha on Star Trek Into Darkness:
“I think that bringing Spock back in the original series of films was kind of cheap, but [resurrecting Kirk] was that cheapness times 10. So that really just retrospectively tainted the rest of the film for me. It also felt very symptomatic of how a lot of the world-building just doesn’t make any sense, because they basically cure death at the end of the film, and you know that they’re never going to acknowledge that or bring it up again. So that to me just sort of represented the fundamental dumbness of the new films. I mean, I think to be a Star Trek fan you sometimes love the idea of the thing more than the thing itself, but I felt that this was worse in a lot of ways.”
Sara Lynn Michener on Star Trek IV:
“Star Trek IV is my favorite Star Trek film. … And it’s quite relevant, in terms of standing the test of time—with climate change—and I think it was incredibly ahead of its time. … You have this woman in the ’80s who is not being respected in her field, who passionately cares about these whales, and who wants to live in the future—she wants to live 300 years past her time, and she gets that opportunity, and she jumps onto Captain Kirk and says, ‘I’m coming with you.’ … And then at the end, when Captain Kirk is thinking, ‘Well, I brought her into the future and now she’s going to go on a date with me,’ she’s kind of like, ‘Eh, we’ll see. But thanks for the ride into the future!’”
Ryan Britt on Sulu’s husband:
“I felt that Pegg and Lin had their hearts in the right place, but you could see why [George] Takei was mad, so my angle was sort of that they’re both right. There was a sort of idea of tokenism, but I thought the way that it was actually handled in the film was great, because it was just like Star Trek should be—that it’s just not a big deal. And I liked that they had a daughter, because Sulu has a daughter, Demora Sulu, in Star Trek Generations, and so then I could say, ‘Well hey, maybe in my head canon, Sulu’s always been gay, and maybe this is Demora in this universe.’ And so I thought the way it was handled in the film was about as classy and Star Trek-y as it could be.”
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