Star Trek 3 (or is it 13?) writer Simon Pegg raised quite a few eyebrows with his recent comments about the state of cinema and the so called “dumbing down” which has, in his view, infected it.
Pegg compared modern releases like Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is heavy on high budget action sequences, with classic, much more dramatic pictures like The Godfather. His general point was that if you want a film to make money, it tends to require a less thoughtful audience who are more interested in explosions than character development.
Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion and certainly there is merit in what Pegg said, but where does this leave Star Trek? Many fans felt that having a fellow geek write the next film would see it return to a more familiar place and certainly the word so far has been that the next adventure will be more along the lines of the original stories, namely a mission in deep space. The future looked somewhat interesting for a while, until Pegg made his comments, throwing doubt over everything we thought this movie was going to be.
The reinvigorated franchise has been a very controversial topic of discussion for Trek fans. Some are happy to see it back in cinemas and appreciate the new films for what they are, essentially big budget action sci-fi, while other more traditional Trek fans feel more aggrieved and disappointed to see the old characters portrayed very differently to those we remember so fondly.
Throw in Pegg’s additional comments about it being “less Star Trek-y” according to the studio’s wishes (here) and Star Trek may truly be going where no-one has gone before.
The direction of the franchise under JJ Abrams was certainly commercially successful, if not entirely appealing to the lifelong trekkies & trekkers. So along came Pegg with the promise of deep space adventure and a return to all things nerd, until a few weeks ago when he seemed to suggest that his love affair with nerdism was drawing to a close. Then we all gasped as a sense of betrayal washed over us. How can he say this?? He’s one of ours!! You can’t do that Simon! GEEK FOR LIFE, GEEK FOR LIFE! Well, maybe we didn’t all share the same dramatic reaction but you get the idea. He spoke of taking on more serious and dramatic roles, which seems almost inevitable for most comedy actors. He can start by disposing of that horrendous Jar Jar-esq sidekick Abrams lumbered Scotty with.
I’m certainly open to Simon Pegg taking on more serious roles and I would start with a slightly less “comic relief” style role for Scotty, but what’s more important to me and many other Trek fans is that we don’t lose the intelligent, thoughtful side of Trek that made it endure for so long. If Pegg bows to Hollywood pressure we’ll see Star Trek continue to be heavy on action and low on substance for the sake of making as much money as possible. If this movie doesn’t make money AND rekindle the old flame for many die hard fans, I’m afraid it could mean that the death of Star Trek as we know it is confirmed, replaced with a dumbed down cash cow reflecting the modern cinema experience Pegg was referring to.