Two things that seem inconceivable in a sentence, “Quentin Tarantino” and “Star Trek” are actually shaping up to be more grounded in reality than they sound. The innovative filmmaker behind such sensational hits as Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, and most recently Once Upon a Time in Hollywood may be leaving behind the quirky world of independent cinema and shaping the next film in the Star Trek franchise.
Said to not follow the fourth film in J.J. Abram’s reboot series, it will still be a Paramount production and possibly be the final movie for Tarantino (if he indeed stops after his alleged ten). He’s a big fan of the original Star Trek television series, so rumors abound that it may have a distinctly retro vibe. Whether or not it will incorporate his signature violence, graphic language, and themes of vigilante justice remain to be seen. Star Trek’s franchise is based off of a particular vision of the future rooted in peace and non-violence. Here are ten mistakes his R-Rated movie should avoid to really connect with Trekkies.
10 MAKING THE VIOLENCE TOO GRAPHIC
From Dusk Til Dawn, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, aside from all being made by the same director, also feature an excessive amount of violence. Quentin Tarantino rivals Martin Scorsese for being one of the goriest directors in Hollywood whose movies aren’t confined strictly to the horror genre.
While the latest round of Star Trek films (beginning with the JJ Abrams’ Star Trek soft reboot in 2009) have been action-packed, there’s very little blood to be seen on screen. Do we need to see a Klingon get dismembered? Do we need to see every member of the Enterprise become a red shirt? Excessive on screen violence will change the tonality and ethos of the Star Trek franchise.
9 A CONFUSING NONLINEAR NARRATIVE STRUCTURE
The Kelvin timeline, so named for the resulting series of events after ticked off Romulan Nero went back in time to 2233 and destroyed the USS Kelvin, is what Trekkies have been following since JJ Abram’s Star Trek came out in 2009. It differs from what’s regarded as the “Prime” timeline, and is only one of many alternate quantum universes.
By the fourth film in the reboot series, the Kelvin timeline appears to have run its course. Tarantino has said he doesn’t want anything to do with it, which is fine, because his frequent use of a nonlinear narrative structure could work perfectly in a franchise that has so many different timelines. However, even in Star Trek, timelines and temporal anomalies tend to get confusing, and weren’t always handled well in the series (we’re looking at you, Enterprise).
8 HAVING A CROSSOVER WITH THE OG CREW
It’s no secret that Tarantino is a fan of Star Trek the original series. He’s also a self professed fan of Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. That being said, including members of the original series crew would be a mistake unless it can be handedly incredibly tactfully.
Remember when Kirk was brought back for Star Trek: Generations, because Patrick Stewart felt it was only fair that the original captain of the Enterprise pass the franchise off to the new cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation? It felt forced, cheesy, and sacrificed the dignity Shatner brought to the role. His final words in the film say it all.
7 CASTING HIS USUAL STARS
Tarantino has made nine films so far (he counts the Kill Bill movies as one), and of those nine films, he’s had frequent collaborators. Samuel L. Jackson has been in everything from Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction to Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. Harvey Keitel has been in Reservoir Dogs, From Dusk Til Dawn, and Inglorious Basterds. Most actors he works with have worked on multiple films with him.
Those actors may be able to disappear into the Tarantino Universe of independent films with diverse characters, but not inhabit their roles the same way when they’re attached to a big budget franchise. Star Trek is full of specifically recognizable people, unless Tarantino isn’t casting for Kirk, Spock, or any known icon.
6 MAKING EVERYONE TALK TARANTINO NONSENSE
One of the many hallmarks of Tarantino’s distinct auteur style is the rapid-fire cadence of his dialogue. Throughout movies like Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction, his characters bicker about the most inane topics. The conversation between Jules and Vincent about what you call a cheeseburger in France comes to mind.
And while that might make sense for a few characters in Star Trek to do (Scotty and Bones), suddenly turning Kirk and Spock into the sort of people that would bicker back and forth about synthehol versus realcohol while piloting a shuttle just doesn’t make sense. He has to fit his dialogue to the characters, not the characters to his dialogue.
5 MAKING IT EXCESSIVELY LONG
Tarantino films can have some pretty long running times. This can be fine for a director with a particular artistic vision, and blockbusters have been known to be excessive with their meandering narratives (The Return of the King, Titanic, Avatar), but will audiences sit in a theater for a 3 hour Star Trek film?
The Hateful Eight has a run time of just over 3 hours. Pulp Fiction was 3 hours. Django Unchained was almost 3 hours. Inglorious Basterds was a brisk jaunt at 2 and a half hours. His latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is practically his shortest at 2 hours. We anticipate Paramount wanting to reign in his penchant for long films.
4 MESSING WITH THE VISION OF PEACE
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had a very specific vision of the future; humans lived in a Utopian society free of greed, war, and disease. Humankind had seen fit to abolish its petty problems and work together with other (peaceful) species and explore space.
Roddenberry’s vision was so ingrained that during the first few seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation he didn’t even want interpersonal conflict between members of the Enterprise. The series only got better when Roddenberry wasn’t involved, implying some conflict was a good thing. But how could Tarantino’s concepts of murder, mayhem, and vigilante justice fit with ethos of Starfleet and the Federation?
3 GOING TOO RETRO
Tarantino has made it no secret that he loves the classic series, following the five year mission of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Co. as they explore the wilds of space. He’s also no stranger to recreating specific time periods, like he did with Jackie Brown. The specific look of ’60s Trek is nostalgic for a reason, and might be nice to see on the big screen again.
He would definitely have the budget to make that time period look spectacular for the modern era, something the original series never had an opportunity to do. However, the Star Trek reboot has had great success with updating the look of the Star Trek franchise, and going too retro might be a step backward.
2 USING GRATUITOUS ADULT LANGUAGE
Gene Roddenberry seemed to believed that in the future, using cuss words wasn’t for civilized society. Savage societies swore, humans didn’t. This was also partially attributed to the fact that the original series aired in the ’60s, where no cussing was going to be happening on screen.
Later series would sneak in a few choice phrases, and Klingons could swear up a storm, but the main cast rarely used foul language. Literally every Tarantino movie has an excessive adult vocabulary, which would have to be significantly toned down in order for Paramount to agree to greenlight his script.
1 SACRIFICING PERSONAL BRAND FOR A KNOWN FRANCHISE
Quentin Tarantino is one of the most successful and artistically creative filmmakers working today. Not only are his movies well attended, they’re also well received, meaning they both make money and get nominated for Academy Awards.
Making a Star Trek film will be his first foray into collaborating with a large franchise. So far, he’s been able to make movies that won’t turn into a franchise, something almost unheard of in today’s era of remakes, sequels, and “sure thing” series. We hope he can make his personal brand work within the construct of a blockbuster franchise, and not become the next Tim Burton sacrificed to Disney.