As you may already know, Quentin Tarantino is planning to direct a Star Trek movie, which might’ve been Hollywood’s most shocking news of recent times if Harvey Weinstein had kept his pants on.
Let’s face it, Tarantino isn’t the first name you think of when it comes to space exploration and analyses of the human condition. He’s less Kling-on and more fuck off, even if he claims to have been a Trekker since before his filmmaking days.
It’s a match-up so odd that neither fan base sees it working, and yet, he might just pull it off. Remember when he directed two episodes of CSI and everybody thought it was crazy? His episodes turned out to be the best of the entire show. Imagine what he could do with a property he genuinely has an affection for.
Tarantino’s known for his reverence for his influences, be them Bruce Lee, low-grade grindhouse pictures, gangster movies or spaghetti westerns. His movies are like a collection of cinematic training videos that somehow morph into entities of their own. The same could happen with Star Trek, provided, of course, he knows all its ins and outs, and understands that most Trek fans will not tolerate a single expletive. Apparently he will be granted an R-rating, despite the Trek tenet that vulgarities, violence and hatred no longer exist in the future.
He’s also, quite notably, not a franchise director, having originated all but one of his screenplays. Yes, some of his characters are supposedly linked to others in different movies, but not once has he created a sequel (no, Kill Bill Vol. 2 doesn’t count). If he makes this movie, it would be the first time he’s entered into an established franchise, and this is a franchise whose fans are fiercely loyal. I’m talking converting-their-garage-into-the-bridge-of-the-Enterprise loyal. You don’t want to get on their bad side.
Alternatively, Star Trek could be the little pet project that shows Tarantino has at least some versatility when it comes to style and genre. He’s never attempted science-fiction, and the closest he’s come to making something tame is Jackie Brown (1997), which was about as tame as a crocodile. He’d be more suited to Star Wars, where frenzied action and dizzying swashbuckling are the name of the game, but he’s admitted a preference for Trek, and at the moment Star Wars is too busy shoving porgs down our throats.
Having said all that, as a Trekker and Tarantino fan myself, I’m looking forward to this unusual marriage. Tarantino has a way with dialogue. He’s able to capture that moment when humans are at their most candid. Star Trek is partially built on its pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo; the phaser emitter arrays and the warp nacelles and re-modulating the tachyon guidance matrix and whatnot. It would seem the ideal environment for Tarantino to exploit the juxtaposition between what’s candid and natural, and what’s robotic (though reports indicate Mark Smith has been hired to write). He might even opt for a little self-awareness – I’d love to see Scotty complaining about how complicated his lines always are.
The project is still a little up in the air. Tarantino is meant to develop it with J.J. Abrams, whose own Trek films, while polarising to diehard fans, have sustained the franchise for a new generation. It will be interesting to see where Tarantino can further take the sci-fi phenomenon, or indeed how much of his fanboy personality he will impart. Time will tell. Right now, he’s focused on his feature about the Manson murders, which certainly seems more up his alley.
Image courtesy of Django Unchained, Sony Pictures and Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment