Quentin Tarantino…well, just read Deadline’s blockquote:

Here was my insta-reaction on Twitter last night:

Turns out, this makes more sense than I realized. In 2015, Tarantino told Nerdist all about his love for Star Trek (“I would be more inclined to do a Star Trek kind of thing rather than Star Wars”), and earlier this year TMZ ambushed him at an airport and got him to admit the chance to direct a Star Trek movie would be a meeting worth taking. Beyond that, in Tarantino’s old life as an uncredited script doctor he worked the following line into Crimson Tide when Denzel Washington orders a soldier to repair the submarine: “Now I’m Captain Kirk, you’re Scotty, I need more power. I’m telling you if you do not get this radio up, a billion people are gonna die; now it’s all up to you.”

So, the dude’s a fan, but is he a big enough fan to make Star Trek his last ever movie? See, TMZ also got Tarantino to re-confirm his intention to retire after making only two more films, the first of them being the Manson Family drama set up at Sony. I already have my reservations about that project, which reads like a classic case of wrong director/wrong project. In Tarantino’s version, will 8-months pregnant Sharon Tate survive and brutally murder her attackers? Or is this going to be the version of Natural Born Killers Tarantino wanted to make before Oliver Stone took it away from him? As Mashable put it, “Tarantino’s sensibilities and true crime? These things go together like chocolate and onions.”

A movie about one of America’s most famous murders at least feels somewhat in Tarantino’s wheelhouse, even if it risks uneasily marrying his fetishizing of violence and love for cheeky dialogue with material which demands tact and reverence. Combining Tarantino with presumably big-budget sci-fi and giving him the keys to mainstream sci-fi’s most optimistic franchise feels like turning over the wheel to Toonces the Driving Cat, the old SNL sketch that always ended this way:

I say that because Tarantino doesn’t make normal movies; he makes Quentin Tarantino movies, same tendencies, same tone, same style of dialogue every time. Give him any old genre – war, locked-room mystery, grindhouse, blaxploitation, revenge fantasy – and out comes a Tarantino movie perfectly of a piece with everything else he’s ever done. The same would be true of his still hypothetical Star Trek, which would be okay if Trek’s visual, tonal and ethical identity at least somewhat aligned with his. They don’t.

In general, Tarantino is ill-suited to franchise filmmaking, even if, as a pop culture obsessive, he ends up linked to just about every geeky thing imaginable:

He almost made Speed Racer (before the Wachowskis), Freddy Vs. Jason (before Ronny Yu), Halloween 6 (before Joe Chappelle), Luke Cage (before Cheo Hodari Coker), Casino Royale (before Martin Campbell) and so many others. He has more unfinished projects than finished, which, to be fair, is just part of the beast in Hollywood. Still, troubled franchise? Get me, Tarantino. But then he inevitably follows his wanderlust somewhere else and nothing comes of it. Maybe now that he’s so close to the artificial end of his career (remember, he just could just change his mind about retiring the same way so many others prematurely retired directors and actors have) he wants to finally see one of these fever dreams through

Contrast that with J.J.Abrams, who is the perfect auteur for the age of perpetual reboot, able to play with other people’s toys in ways both distinct and familiar. Of course, Abrams will be involved with this new Trek because even though he has now twice screwed over Paramount by playing the “childhood dream” card to direct Star Wars movies for a competitor he still has a multi-picture deal with the studio which needs to be honored. Plus, his production company is still in charge of the Trek film rights, and nothing seems to happening with that Star Trek Beyond sequel right now. It doesn’t hurt anyone to take a meeting.

I could see a scenario where Tarantino acts as a consultant, maybe ends up with a story by or producer credit, but lets somebody else write and direct. That is if this latest “Tarantino apparently has an idea for [insert name of geek franchise]” story amounts to anything.

What is his idea, exactly? Dunno, but here’s what he told Nerdist two years ago:

You could take some of the great, classic ‘Star Trek’ episodes and just easily expand them to 90 minutes or more. And really do some amazing stuff,” Tarantino enthused. “The obvious one would be ‘City On The Edge Of Forever,’ that’s what everyone would go to, but there’s a reason why everyone would go to that. It’s one of the classic stories of all time, and one of the great time travel stories. However, in thinking about that concept even further though, I think one of the best ‘Star Trek’ episodes ever written was for ‘Next Generation’…’Yesterday’s Enterprise.’ I actually think that is one of the great, not only space story, but the way it dealt with the mythology. That actually could bear a two-hour treatment.”

If you don’t remember, “Yesterday’s Enterprise” is the episode where an act of kindness by Picard and crew toward a damaged ship inadvertently causes a massive shift in the timeline which plunges the Federation into century-long war with the Klingons. Guinan is the only one who notices. Tarantino loves the possibility of revisiting a storyline like that but with more depth:

“The whole thing with that episode [Yesterday’s Enterprise] that was so cool, they save the ship, but little do they know by saving the ship it’s actually in a different time period — but they don’t know that. But what ends up happening is — because they screwed up with the timeline, everything changes. The characters don’t know it, but we know it. And the thing about it is, it turns out that the Klingons and the humans on earth have been having this hundred year war that’s been going on, and it’s just the bloodiest war imaginable in the history of any universe.” 

What do you think? Is Tarantino exactly the Trek superfan the franchise needs right now? Or the absolute the last thing it needs? Or who cares about the films anymore since Discovery is here? Just worried this might mean Beyond is the last we’ll see of the Abrams cast? Or are you more hyped for the season finale of The Orville than the idea of a Tarantino Trek movie?

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Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

7 Comments

  1. He might be a superfan but I still can’t reconcile his name with the Star Trek franchise. Unless of course it turned into a heist movie where the cast had to retrieve some type of McGufin (or plant one) in enemy territory , or something like that.I’d actually watch that.

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    1. It just seems like for as long as I’ve been a film fan Tarantino’s been running his mouth about some great idea he has for what to do with a geek franchise and then nothing ever comes of it. Maybe this time will be different. I hope it won’t, though, because Tarantino can no more make a normal film than Rob Zombie can. A Tarantino Star Trek would probably be a lot like the Rob Zombie Halloween (at least in terms of a director bending a franchise and genre around his own unique cinematic eye), and I don’t want that. Since he’s such a fan, hear him out and see if his idea is worth pursuing, but let’s not go crazy here.

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  2. Side note: do you really believe he’s going to retire after another two films? To focus on “writing novels and film literature”? (according to Wikipedia)

    I’ve turned into a huge cynic. Every time somebody declares they are a super fan of a franchise, I think of Nicholas Meyer and everybody else. Somewhere I read that Meyer was never a Trek fan and hed never watched any until he was hired for “The Wrath of Khan” and that turned out to be one of the best Trek films. When I think of “super fans”, I think they produce shit. The specific shit I think of is the game “Aliens: Colonial Marines”, the film versions of “Aliens Vs Predator”, “Rogue One”, “The Force Awakens”. Pure manure.

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    1. I don’t really trust anything Tarantino says. He was hailed as the savior of film and voice of his generation from the start, and it all went to his head turning him into an entirely insufferable figure who does still manage to make the occasional decent-to-great movie every 3 or 4 years. I could easily see a scenario where after completing his next 2 movies he un-retires because the film industry clearly still needs him. That would be an ego-stroking movie right in his wheelhouse. However, I could also see him following through on it and turn into an equally sufferable play director. It’s just whatever he needs to do to serve his ego. He gets away with it because his movies are good enough and make enough money.

      BTW, since I wrote this article Deadline reported the Tarantino/Abrams went so well that we have to start taking this all seriously. Because Paramount has apparently agreed to not only let Tarantino direct but also to make an R-Rated Star Trek movie. So, there’s that. I’m still skeptical because the dude’s been in the industry for decades, always running his mouth about how he’d fixed XYZ geek franchise, and nothing ever comes of it. So, for him to follow through on this would be a first.

      The fan thing — Jon Bernthal was recently asked on The Nerdist what he thought of what The Walking Dead had done since he left the show, and after pausing a beat he admirably said something along the lines of, “I’m not gonna sit here and bullshit you, man, I haven’t kept up with the show. I’ve got my wife and kids and my work, and that takes up all my time.” It would have been so easy for him to lie. I loved that he didn’t. Because sometimes it does seem that everyone in Hollywood is a fan of anything and everything they need to be to not burn bridges and help them get jobs. Read comics as a kid? Sure I did if that means I get to be in that Marvel movie. Played that video game? Absolutely if you’ll cast me in the movie adaptation. Watch every episode of that one show even after it killed you off? Sure I did since they might re-hire me at some point. There are those Samuel L. Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, Joss Whedon, or Edgar Wright types where you genuinely believe they probably did read all the comic books and watch all the TV shows they say they did, but at a certain point it becomes more refreshing to hear someone honestly admit all this shit is new to them, followed, inevitably by “But I’ve been reading the comics ever since I got the job” (ala Margot Robbie and Harley Quinn).

      More to your point, though, hiring an actual, legit superfan always seems like a better idea on paper than in execution. You don’t realize that by hiring a superfan you’re hiring someone who is already too close to the material and too concerned with reverence for the franchise to try something legitimately new that might appeal to a wider audience. That kind of voice is hepful, but in the key decision-making job it does tend to work better if you have someone who is more detached from it all and can take in all points of view. If that person does a shitty job, though, the film will forever be hounded by “why didn’t they hire someone who’d seen at least a single film in the franchise beforehand.” Ronny Yu and Freddy Vs. Jason would be an example of that. Paul W.S. Anderson’s entire career, though, is an example of why not to hire the superfan.

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      1. Tarantino does strike me as insufferable but I am curious now.

        Maybe they should have a R-rated TNG film and be about Klingons – not the metrosexual or Discovery or TOS Klingons. The fanbase is there and Michael Dorn is willing to spend the many hours in the makeup chair for it. Let it be bloody and with dismemberment with lots of STVI pink blood.

      2. Oh, I think the Michael Dorn ship has sailed. It’s just…he’s been campaigning for Worf whatever for so long that it surely would have happened by now.

        However, your “let it be bloody with dismemberment with lots of STVI pink blood” is making me flash back to Undiscovered Country’s zeo gravity Klingon assassination scene and picturing what it would look like through Tarantino’s camera. That, actually, could be fun.

        Ultimately, I’m still in that “Tarantino and Star Trek just shouldn’t go together” mental space, but if it truly happens I’ll at least wait to learn more about it and start seeing some images or a teaser. Heck, even if I was a non-Star Trek fan but still a film lover I think I’d at least be intrigued to see what strangeness emerges from such an improbable marriage.

  3. […] the rights to the Manson film, but Paramount separately got into bed with Tarantino on a potential R-Rated Star Trek reboot. According to THR, it’s not known exactly how much Sony paid to secure the worldwide rights to […]

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