J.J. Abrams has reportedly passed off the director’s chair to Robert Orci, according to a recent report by Paramount and Skydance. While Abrams will still maintain his spot as producer, Orci, teamed with Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne, will have the reign over the script for the movie. For trekkies who were disenchanted with the the first two Star Trek reboots, Abrams’ vacant director’s chair has been cause for celebration as they await the release of Star Trek 3.
From the outset, the decision to reboot Star Trek was met with mixed feelings. Initially, Trek veterans of the original series (TOS) were more affected than younger generations of viewers who had little understanding of the implications of a Kirk-Spock redo. There was a general feeling of unease in the air over the issue of whether or not the script would be loyal to the TOS plot and timeline. Following the release of the two recent Star Trek movies, there has been a polarization of trekkies: on the one side are those who have successfully disassociated with tradition and welcomed the reboots as a new thing, and on the other side are those who cannot shake the feeling that the essence of Star Trek has been forever changed.
Not only has Abrams stepped aside as director, but he has also turned away from writing the script and is focusing his attention on Star Wars: Episode VII. According to University of Baltimore media studies professor, Arnold Blumberg, this is a good thing. Blumberg believes that Abrams is better suited for the Star Wars universe because the movies are more of what the media studies professor calls “sword and sorcery.” In fact, Blumberg lamented the recasting of Star Trek under Abrams because the movies felt more like a story about “fairy tales and superhero mythology,” more like Star Wars.
To add insult to injury, Blumberg and other long-time trekkies were angry over the change in backstory of the two central characters, Kirk and Spock. In making the famous duo a pair of orphaned souls, Abrams once again cast the Star Trek universe in a new light, one that is archetypal of Star Wars and its damaged heroes. However, Blumberg was quick to point out that Star Trek is by no means a template for realism, citing for example, the degree of technobabble in Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). At least the technobabble was based on something substantiated scientifically, he added, which was definitely not the case of the McGuffin “red matter” introduced by Abrams. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the Star Trek universe and franchise, wanted to make it as futuristically realistic as possible, but more importantly, he wanted viewers to take something meaningful away from the series. To that effect, he dedicated his efforts towards infusing the script with philosophically rich scenarios. That tradition was subsequently carried out in TNG (post season 5), Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise after Roddenberry passed away.
TNG actor LeVar Burton, who played chief engineer Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge, echoed Blumberg’s view. After seeing Into Darkness, Burton was hardly celebrating and was left thirsting for Roddenberry’s vision of Star Trek. According to Burton, Abrams’ interpretation of that vision was seriously lacking. In response to the suggestion that Burton’s presence might have made the films better, the former TNG star replied, “They don’t need me, they just need Gene.”
It remains to be seen what the new writers and director Robert Orci have planned for Star Trek 3. Some trekkies are celebrating the change in directing while others feel Star Trek lost its great director to Star Wars. Regardless, Abrams will have two of the most iconic franchises under his belt after he finishes with Star Wars.
By Courtney Anderson