Image Credit: Inset: Albert L. Ortega/PR PhotosScreenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are still in the early stages of writing the sequel to 2009’s Star Trek reboot (likely due in the summer of 2012), and given the general fog of secrecy that hovers over every J.J. Abrams project, you won’t be surprised to find out that their recent interview with the Los Angeles Times is very light on any specific plot revelations. However, if you sift through the writing pair’s jaunty obfuscation, you can spot two key bits of wisdom that may indicate the shape of Star Trek 12/2/Whatever.
1. They’re not thinking trilogy.
The last decade of blockbuster Hollywood storytelling has been defined by trilogies. The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series, Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, even seemingly open-ended franchises like Blade and The Bourne Identity all reached for the curious magic of a three-part cycle. So it’s interesting to note that Orci and Kurtzman seem to be pretty okay with just making a regular old sequel. “I don’t know that we’ve ever thought of [the new Star Trek series] in terms of a trilogy,” says Orci. Kurtzman contrasts the first movie, which was essentially an origin story, with the new one: “It becomes about this family that’s together, so now it becomes about the thing that shakes them up and challenges them.”
I love trilogies as much as the next guy, but I’m sort of intrigued by the notion of these guys creating a new standalone story — which is sort of what the Star Trek film series was all about, pre-reboot. (Although I guess you could argue that Star Treks II through IV form a sub-trilogy within the larger series.)
2. They’re watching old episodes for “inspiration.”
To me, the best part about the Star Trek reboot was how it managed to have its cake and eat it too. The creators embedded a few hundred throwaway references to Star Trek lore (yeesh, they even gave Bakula’s character from Enterprise a shout-out), but they also essentially tore apart the entirety of Trek history to create a brand new continuity. So although Kurtzman and Orci seem pretty set on creating a new story, they’re still looking back to old episodes of the original series for further inspiration.
Says Orci, “Whereas the last movie was all about breaking free from Star Trek and its canon, now that we can do whatever we want, we still want it to feel like good ol’ Star Trek even though it’s a new story.” I read that as an indication that, we’re probably not going to see Wrath of Khan 2.0, or any other obvious villains from Trek past. (That might mean no Klingons, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Hey, I love the Klingons, but they’re the most overexposed Big Bads in the Trekverse.)
There’s a part of me that’s still hoping that the next Trek will feature a new version of an old villain from the original series, like the Gorn. Then again, Orci is on the record as a fan of the great Star Trek book Prime Directive — maybe we’ll some some elements of that book in the sequel? What do you think, PopWatchers? Do you want a whole new storyline, or are you hankering for some Klingons?
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