So, Quentin Tarantino pitched an R-rated Star Trek movie to Paramount Pictures. And the internet is freaking out.
It isn’t clear if Tarantino’s take will be part of JJ Abrams’s Kelvinverse timeline, which began with the 2009 reboot, or if it’ll jump back to the prime continuity. Actually, it’s not even clear what era his version of Star Trek will be set in.
But Tarantino himself made it clear in an interview from the latest issue of Empire that his version of Star Trek will be in line with his particular sensibilities.
“It’s an R-rated movie,” the Once Upon A Time In Hollywood director told Empire. “If I do it, it’ll be R-rated. There’s a script that exists for it now. I need to weigh in on it, but I haven’t been able to do that yet.”
Trekkies are naturally skeptical about the prospect of an R-rated Star Trek. On the surface, a profanity-laden, violence-filled take on Gene Roddenberry’s classic “let’s all get along” future definitely seems like a stretch.
And while I count myself among those skeptics, I don’t think the idea is completely without merit. Here’s a few ways that Tarantino’s take on Star Trek might not be something to be so worried about.
In fact, it could actually work.
“We Work To Better Ourselves.”
Picture a Quentin Tarantino movie. Go ahead, close your eyes and see what comes to mind when you think “Quentin Tarantino movie.”
You saw guns, gangsters, and blood right? And way too many utterances of the N-word. Also, a lot of feet. Let’s not dwell on those last two, though.
Now, look beyond the pictures in your mind and think about the films themselves. What they were about beyond the plot. See, for all the criticism of Tarantino films as monuments to drugs and violence, there are themes. Themes that Star Trek has tackled before.
Indeed, Tarantino tackled the biggest Star Trek theme of all in his most famous film, Pulp Fiction. Redemption. Or, put more simply, the need to be a better person tomorrow than you were today.
That’s the entire arc of Samuel L. Jackson’s character, the disillusioned hitman Jules. He wants to get out of “the life” of gunning strangers down for money and become a nomad. An explorer, even.
I know, I’m digging, but if a writer can understand the core of a project, it makes it more likely that he’ll be able to get something worthwhile out of it.
And as far as swearing goes, Star Trek: Discovery has already opened the door to profanity in the franchise.
Another favorite topic of Tarantino’s is revenge, something Star Trek has tackled a lot. I mean, a lot. Hell, half of the already-existing Star Trek movies are about the subject. Tarantino’s own signature revenge flick, Kill Bill, opens with a title card reciting the “ancient Klingon proverb” from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
The guy at least knows the material. He’s a fan. Which brings us to our next point.
He’s A Fan
Tarantino has been dropping Star Trek references into his own work for years.
There’s a Captain Kirk reference in 1993’s True Romance, which Tarantino wrote. Jackie Brown contains a Star Trek: Voyager Easter egg. And there’s the aforementioned nod to Star Trek II.
Actually, Tarantino wrote an entire Star Trek-themed scene in 1995’s Crimson Tide (for which he was an uncredited script doctor) in which Denzel Washington’s character compares himself to Captain Kirk and the submarine’s radio controller as Scotty.
And to all the Star Trek fans who have complained since 2009 that new iterations of the franchise don’t “look right,” (whatever that means) guess what? You’ll probably get your old Enterprise back.
Tarantino is nothing if not a man who loves throwbacks. Odds are good that with Tarantino at the helm, the starship interiors and exteriors, the costumes, and the blinky lights that don’t do anything will all be back.
He’s a guy who loves his nostalgia, and Tarantino will probably be a kid in a candy shop if he gets a chance to bring back that classic 1960s Star Trek aesthetic.
But beyond a rudimentary understanding of Star Trek‘s basic themes and aesthetics, there’s one reason above all that fans should not worry about Quentin Tarantino’s version of the sci-fi classic.
It Probably Won’t Happen
Here’s another thing about Quentin Tarantino. He gets bored with other peoples’ properties.
See, Tarantino has made his way in Hollywood by bringing to life his own concepts and ideas, because they are uniquely his. If it’s his characters and his stories brought forth from his imagination, he’s all in.
But even if a studio is willing to give him (mostly) carte blanche, major, established franchises are big-money enterprises. In the case of Star Trek, Paramount is definitely going to want to be involved.
And the more notes they deliver, the more bored he will become with the project, and the more likely it becomes that he’ll abandon it.
In the early 2000s, Tarantino was all gung ho about working with James Bond producers Eon Productions on an adaptation of Casino Royale. Tarantino was vocal about his plans for the film, saying it would star Pierce Brosnan in a period piece — outside the established film continuity — set in the 1960s.
Eon didn’t even have the rights to Casino Royale at the time, and they were still excited about the prospect of working with Tarantino on the film. They went as far as to send Brosnan a copy of the novel. And while Eon and Sony finally managed to strike a deal to the novel’s rights, Tarantino had already moved on.
Too many t’s to cross and i’s to dot.
At the end of the day, the same concerns fans have are the ones Paramount will have. Oh, sure, Tarantino is a big name and would be given a wide berth. But this is Star Trek. One of the last major gold mines under the Paramount umbrella.
There are going to be studio notes, and Tarantino isn’t the kind to take them without a fight or without walking away.
Watch me be proven wrong about this, but I don’t think a Quentin Tarantino-directed Star Trek film is in the cards.
But if it was, it could work. Maybe.
All images courtesy of startrek.com.