DeFlip Side #183: Tarantino’s Trek

DeFlip Side #183: Tarantino’s Trek.mp3

Welcome everyone. I’m Christopher DeFilippis and this is DeFlip Side.

Well, to say it’s been a bizarre year would be an understatement. We’ve somehow found ourselves in a reality where President Donald Trump disgraces the Oval Office daily, and the combined might of the Justice League couldn’t best Marvel third-stringer Thor at the box office.

But 2017? It isn’t done with us yet folks. As if we needed any more proof that we’ve skewed off into some weird alternate dimension, news recently broke that Quentin Tarantino is the front runner to direct the next Star Trek feature film.

I’ll repeat that in case you haven’t already heard: the creative auteur behind gonzo classics like Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction is gearing up to boldly go into the final frontier.

Deadline broke the story a couple of weeks ago, saying that Tarantino shared his idea for a new Star Trek film with JJ Abrams, got Paramount’s blessing, and then met with a team of writers to break the story.

In a further bizarro twist, Deadline says that Paramount has also agreed to Tarantino’s demand that the film be R-rated.

To which I say, what in the ever-loving fuck?

Okay. I’m not against Tarantino taking on Trek. One of the franchise’s hallmarks is its ability to tell many different kinds of stories, from many different points of view.

And Tarantino’s take would certainly be a departure. At the very least, it’d be interesting on a writing level to see how his whip-crack dialog and non-liner story style pushes against the confines of fuddy Federation decorum–if it doesn’t blow it apart entirely. You know, what with all of the sex and the violence and the vulgarity. But honestly, hasn’t that ship already sailed with Discovery’s f-bomb and Klingon boobs?

Wow. Klingon boobs are now canon. Another bizarre occurrence, courtesy of 2017.

Anyway, I have no doubt that Trek can readily handle anything Tarantino decides to throw at it.

No, my real doubts are whether I buy this story at all. Despite it coming from reputable sources–with no denials from Tarantino, Abrams or Paramount–I still can’t help but paraphrase James T. Kirk and ask:

What does Quentin Tarantino need with Star Trek?

And my inescapable conclusion? Nothing.

Think about it. Tarantino has made his reputation with uniquely-written and directed films that experiment with story and form, and subvert cinematic conventions. And he’s been hugely successful at it.

So why on Earth would he want to shackle his manic creativity to a studio-driven tent-pole project where his every move will be under a corporate microscope? And why would he want to be answerable to JJ Abrams–a man who has proven time and again that he doesn’t have the slightest grasp on character-driven storytelling?

Now, pile on top of that the impossible expectations of Star Trek fans, and Tarantino has his own Kobyashi Maru.

Still, there is some historical precedence here. While appearing on The Nerdist Podcast all the way back in 2015, Tarantino spoke loosely about how he might approach directing a Star Trek film, saying the Kelvin timeline reboot offers the chance to do feature film versions of classic Trek episodes. And he named two specifically: TOS’s “City on the Edge of Forever” and TNG’s “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”

You can listen to this clip below. It’s kind of rambling, but Tarantino’s enthusiasm for Trek comes through–despite gaffs like calling Worf “Rawrf.”

And someone with slightly more Trek cred has expressed his own enthusiasm with the idea of a Tarantino-driven Trek: Captain Picard himself, Sir Patrick Stewart. Here’s what he told The Hollywood Reporter:

“People are always saying to me, ‘Will you be Jean-Luc Picard again?’ And I cannot think that would be possible … But one of my dreams is to work with Tarantino. So, if he is going to direct something to do with Star Trek and there was the possibility of dear old Jean-Luc showing up again and doing that for Mr. Tarantino, I would embrace it.”

Now as fangasmy as that sounds, how would it work? The Kelvin timeline is decades away from the NextGen era. So you’d need time travel to get Picard into the picture. But by Kelvin universe rules, any time travel just creates an alternate dimension. So the Abrams’ crew would either have to travel forward and create yet another spin-off universe–or a Picard from another universe would have to travel back and create his own reality split–or maybe unbeknownst to us, OUR Picard followed Spock and Nero into the original time rift and wow I am getting a headache.

No. The only way it would work is if you found a director who had a flare for creating characters moving along seemingly disparate story lines, shaking those stories up and weaving them all together in the end. Hmmm. I wonder who’s good at that?

Jokes aside, I say if Tarantino wants to do Star Trek, let him. His interpretation can’t be any worse than recent cinematic forays like Into Darkness or Nemesis. And one thing is sure: he has the vision to take Star Trek where no Trek has gone before.