It's the age of reboots and remakes of popular (or once popular) franchises. Back in 2009, to mixed reviews from critics and fans alike, Paramount Pictures and [director] J.J. Abrams brought the original Enterprise crew back for more theatrical adventures in the form of Star Trek and it's sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness.
And now, with Star Trek Beyond looming just over the silver screen horizon and a new Star Trek television series set to hit CBS's online streaming service next year, I'm forced to ask myself, "what if they did a theatrical reboot of Star Trek: The Next Generation?"
It seems like a logical next step. It doesn't seem too likely that the cast of the current films are going to want to stick around past Beyond. Chris Pine (Captain Kirk) is soon to be seen as Steve Trevor in DC's Wonder Woman film, while Zoe Saldana (Lt. Uhura) has Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and 57 Avatar sequels in the works. So what is a studio to do if they want to keep making Star Trek movies?
While I cherish Star Trek: The Next Generation as my favorite of the Trek series and never really accepted the Abrams films as "real" Star Trek, no matter how much I enjoy watching them as popcorn flicks, a part of me is intrigued at what a revamped Next Generation can look like with top Hollywood talent and improved special effects. Below are who I can envision filling the shoes and inaccessible spandex jumpsuits of the Enterprise D crew.
BRYAN SINGER as THE DIRECTOR
Bryan Singer is an exceptional director of science fiction, suspense and superhero action when he wants to be. Sure, I have some audience and continuity fatigue with the X-Men franchise but, like the Abrams Trek movies, I still enjoy watching Days of Future Past for what it attempted to be. I haven't seen Apocalypse yet but I'm sure it's fine. Plus, Singer is a huge Star Trek fan (having had a cameo as a doomed helmsman in Star Trek: Nemesis and pitched a rather interesting concept for a series, Star Trek: Federation) and I'm sure he'd do the franchise justice.
LIAM NEESON as CAPT. JEAN-LUC PICARD
Patrick Stewart is one of my favorite actors. Not to mention probably my favorite voice. Move over Morgan Freeman! I could listen to Patrick Stewart read the phone book! So there aren't a lot of people that I could see sitting in his chair on the bridge of the Enterprise. In fact...there's only one who I can see doing it. Enter Liam Neeson. He has proven in recent years, especially with the Taken films, that age is no object and that he can kick ass as good as any one half his age. So, along with being a very talented and charismatic actor who can handle Picard's diplomacy with no problems, he can also bring with him the level of action that non Trekkie audiences have come to expect.
HENRY CAVILL as COMMANDER WILLIAM RIKER
While I'm not the hugest fan of Man of Steel (and haven't even seen Batman v Superman yet) I am a pretty big fan of Henry Cavill. Have you seen The Man From U.N.C.L.E.? If not, you need to. He has so much charm and charisma as an actor that, if given the right direction, it is mind blowing. And lest we forget his work on The Tudors. He is definitely the man you want leading the away team when they board the Borg cube, or blowing up a space station after seducing an angry old scientist's wife (thanks for the "blowing up a space station" joke, Dork Trek!)
STEVEN YEUN as LT. COMMANDER DATA
"Get the pitch forks!" "Burn in Hell!" FAN RAGE!!! I know, Brent Spiner (and by extension, Data) is not of Asian descent. However, lets look at this from the point of view of a reboot. Data was created by Dr. Noonien Soong, which is a very Asian sounding name and was, in fact, named after a Chinese friend of Gene Roddenberry's. So why not make Data an Asian designed android? It would satisfy the PC crowd that has grown in massive numbers recently and, besides that, the Walking Dead star is a tremendous actor with fan credibility. It's a win-win.
JULIANNE MOORE as DR. BEVERLY CRUSHER
What? Did you really think I was going to go with Pulaski? GTFO! But, in all seriousness, the Academy Award winning actress is a natural choice for the Enterprise's compassionate physician and (possible) love interest of Picard. She's talented, attractive and features a very pleasant resemblance to Gates McFadden. Plus, she's not opposed to joining popular franchises, having been in the last two installments of The Hunger Games.
HAYLEY ATWELL as DEANNA TROI
I think it's safe to say that the London born Marina Sirtis was, hands down, the sex symbol of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She was (and still is) quite stunning. So, to do her justice (not only physically but also characteristically, of course) I'm going to have to go with the London born sex symbol of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You probably know Ms. Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter, of course. And she's a perfect choice to take up post as the ships empathic councilor.
DWAYNE JOHNSON as LT. WORF (son of Mogh)
You might be asking yourself at this point, "really?" But Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is a character actor who is not afraid to tackle any character, large or small. And having been dubbed "the franchise saver" after joining the Fast and Furious and GI Joe films, it's easy to put all your chips on him. Plus, if we're talking reboots, Johnson is kind of the leading authority on them right now as he has Baywatch, Jumanji and Big Trouble in Little China remakes all in the works. Also, Johnson is one of my favorite actors and I would love to see what kind of depth he could bring to the fan favorite Klingon.
**Side note: I would love to see a relationship in this version between Worf and Tasha Yar (akin to the Spock/Uhura relationship of Abrams' films). Worf and Yar are both warriors and the chemistry between them would be undeniable. Plus, when Yar inevitably dies (because we all know she'd have to!) we could have Worf cradle her after her fatal blaster shot (or whatever) and whisper, "today...is a good day to die." And then he'd hold her dead eyes open and shout at the ceiling. Yeah, I just totally went full Trek nerd on that one!**
JOHN BOYEGA as LT. COMMANDER GEORDI LA FORGE
Hey, if J.J. Abrams and Simon Pegg can jump ship from Star Trek to Star Wars, then there's no reason why the Force Awakens star can't do the opposite. Boyega is an extreme talent and a near spitting image of LeVar Burton. Plus, he's in pretty high demand with the sci-fi genre, at the moment, having just snagged a starring role in the on again/off again Pacific Rim sequel. So let's strap a visor to him already and get him to shout "coolant leak!"
JAIMIE ALEXANDER as LT. TASHA YAR
Tasha Yar, the ship's original chief of security, only appeared in 34 of the show's 176 episodes, yet she's one of the most fondly remembered characters. So she of course needs to be included. Especially if they flesh her out a little with my aforementioned Worf relationship. To play her, I picked Alexander because she has already shown plenty of action talent with her role as Lady Sif in the Thor films (as well as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and her NBC series Blindspot. Plus, she also showed some emotional range with her turn as a small town cop in the incredibly underrated Schwarzenegger flick, The Last Stand. And yeah, she may die in her first outting as the character, but much like Denise Crosby in the series...she'd find a way (or two) to come back.
VIOLA DAVIS as GUINAN
Because in a time where everything is free thanks to replicators and alcohol is synthesized to eliminate intoxication...you gotta have a bartender! Guinan was the ageless "listener" of the Enterprise. But that doesn't mean she didn't have any depth or mystery to her. I like Viola Davis for having shown a wide range of dramatic talent and for having a strong enough resemblance to Whoopi Goldberg. Plus, she's about to grab some geek cred when she premiers her take on Amanda Waller in DC's Suicide Squad.
CHANDLER RIGGS as WESLEY CRUSHER
Wesley Crusher was hated by fans. He whined a lot. He got in the way. He was the focal point of a lot of problems. But it wouldn't be Star Trek: The Next Generation without him. So, let's cast an actor who similarly plays a character that is hated for whining and causing problems, but whom helps establish the show for what it is. The Walking Dead's Chandler "Carl" Riggs is perfect for the young engineering prodigy.
GARY OLDMAN as Q
The main antagonist of a Next Generation film has to be Q! He was there at the beginning. He was there at the end. And he was responsible for a lot of the best episodes in the middle. And while a part of me wants to cast Conan O'Brian as the successor to John de Lancie, I think Gary Oldman is the way to go. As one of Hollywood's best character actors, he has proven time and again with such works as The Dark Knight, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Harry Potter, Air Force One and The Fifth Element that he is the type of quirky yet sinister and deep villain this new Enterprise needs. And if Q doesn't seem formidable enough for a more action oriented film, then he could just snap them to the Delta Quadrant to face off with the Borg.
So what do you think?
Did I hit the mark with this one? Is this a Star Trek: The Next Generation film that you would watch? Let me know in the comments below or follow me on Twitter (@ThisIsJamesT) for all things rant and ravey.
[PS: I have written this once before in my old blog days. But I doubt anyone ever read it so, like the topic of this article, I rebooted it. Check the original out here to compare the differences, if you'd like.]