Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, establishing its status as one of sci fi's longest standing franchises. 2016 is also the year Star Trek 3 is set to be released, the latest installment in the reboot films that have both delighted and divided fans. And it has had a pretty rocky road to production, what with director J.J. Abrams absconding to work on Star Wars Episode 7, closely followed by co-director Roberto Orci. But will this tumultuous start actually spell success for the film series? With Simon Pegg's script now completed, and [Fast & Furious 6](tag:37143) director Justin Lin starting the shoot, the future for Star Trek is bright.
The latest news
Just in case you're not caught up, here's what we know. Into the Woods star Chris Pine and American Horror Story's Zachary Quinto have both signed on for Star Trek 4, so this is far from being the end of the film series.
Sofia Boutella, of [Kingsman: The Secret Service](tag:713143) fame, is confirmed to appear in Star Trek 3, though her role has not been released. With Justin Lin promising new aliens, could the actress be heralding a new species' entrance into the Federation? Will she be friend or foe? And how long will it take for Captain Kirk to turn on the charm?
Idris Elba was also closing in on a deal to star in the latest Trek film, as the latest badass villain, but there's been no development on this particular possibility since April. We'll keep our fingers crossed though - Elba proved in Pacific Rim that he cuts an imposing figure in a position of authority, and it would be fantastic to see him as a Starfleet admiral gone rogue. Pegg has promised Elba's role won't be a reboot of an old character.
"It will be [an original character], yes. This is the five-year mission now, we’re out there. We don’t always have to keep bumping into the same people… So we’re gonna try and reflect that in the movie.”
Finally on the Five Year Mission!
Yes, you read right, after hovering around Earth's corner of the Alpha Quadrant, our reboot team will finally be striking out on the epic exploration that made The Original Series so much fun. And here is where the news gets most exciting: after Star Trek Into Darkness rehashing Wrath Of Khan, the next film is firmly set to go in a different direction. Justin Lin is excited to guide the Enterprise into new adventures.
“It’s all new and fresh. The Klingons, Romulans and other species are great, but it’s time to go further. It has been fun to focus on creating whole new worlds and species."
Although Into Darkness did well at the box office, it had a mixed reception from critics and fans. Abrams seemed determined to show that Star Trek can be gritty and grim, but may have overloaded the plot with tension while ignoring some of the fun that made the show so popular. Returning to the spirit of exploration of The Original Series might be just what the Star Trek reboot needs.
Justin Lin, a self confessed "Star Trek kid", also seems enthusiastic to explore the kinds of philosophical topics that have been strong themes all the way through Trek's many spinoff shows. He also wants to develop the characters more, and argues that the five year mission is the best way to achieve both of these aims.
"As great as J.J's films were, there's still a lot to be mined from these characters. [The mission] sets up an opportunity for exploration and the deeper you go, the more you are examining humanity. Those are the things that I absorbed as a kid and hope to tap into and embrace and celebrate."
With friendships tested and new bonds ready to be forged, it's going to be an exciting journey as we fly off with Kirk and the gang into their new trek among the stars!
So what's going to change?
With a new director and writing team, we're certainly going to see a shift in focus. Abrams concentrated on making the films exciting and exhilarating, striking a balance between emulating the original stories and making these versions of the characters stand on their own. However, Into Darkness was fraught with fan-angering issues. After the epic anti-climax of Kirk's non death, and a plot that relied heavily on action, many fans have been asking for a return to the values of the original shows.
Pegg has certainly been feeding fans' hopes about returning to the ideals of Gene Roddenberry's vision. He recently spoke out against the "dumbing down" of cinema, instead favouring "emotional journeys or moral questions" that challenge viewers to re-evaluate their perspectives. This is definitely what Roddenberry had in mind when he started the first Star Trek show. Themes such as social equality have long been a pillar of the franchise, along with philosophical questions about the nature of humanity and our hopes and dreams.
But if you're a fan of the fun and spectacle of sci fi, never fear! Paramount reportedly feels that the Trek films need a bit of a genre-shift. Following the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, an unexpected cult hit, the studio are suggesting Trek needs to mix things up. Which could be really exciting! According to Pegg, Paramount's idea was to "make a western or a thriller or a heist movie, then populate that with Star Trek characters."
Star Trek has never been a stranger to playing with genre. We've had holodeck episodes set in "the Ancient West", undercover operations into the Federation's shady Section 31, and plenty of time travel capers. Some of Trek's most successful and enjoyable stories have flirted with the boundaries of sci fi.
Overall, the outlook for Star Trek 3 is decidedly hopeful, and we're excited to see how the latest writing and directing team will guide us into new adventures. So start the countdown to July 8th, 2016, it's nearly time to boldly go!