‘Star Trek Beyond’: Simon Pegg Defends Director From ‘Fast And Furious’ Haters

Spock in 'Star Trek Beyond.'
Spock in 'Star Trek Beyond.' Paramount

No one liked the Star Trek Beyond trailer and Paramount is probably scared stupid that the next trailer, expected on May 20, will get a similarly angry reception. With the first trailer’s heavy emphasis on action and a new, bold Guardians of the Galaxy color palette, much of the cast and crew have been busy with damage control ever since, endlessly insisting to media outlets that Star Trek Beyond is very much in the Star Trek tradition.

Now, in an interview with Collider, Simon Pegg took another whack at convincing us that Star Trek Beyond would be more than just a thrill ride:

Being given the keys to the Star Trek universe was an extraordinary privilege. It was extremely important to me that we did it justice. I know Star Trek means a lot to a lot of different people. It means an enormous amount to some people. And at the same time, it should be something that everyone can enjoy as well, so you have to look at the means of writing a screenplay as well, which is an invitation to the un-inducted of the Federation Fan Club, and those who have been watching the show for fifty years and knowing it and loving every element of it. And also what’s available to us now and the state of cinema now, and the spectacle to bring people in. It was, ‘Let’s combine it. Let’s combine the philosophies and tenets of the Star Trek universe with bigger set pieces and exciting stuff. Let’s see Kirk and the guys doing stuff we haven’t seen them do before because we just literally haven’t been able to do that.’ But that’s not at the expense of the other stuff. Star Trek is a very thoughtful story. It’s a very intelligent, hopeful projection of our own futures, and that’s something we have to hang on to.”

Sounds good, hope it’s true. But the more interesting moment was when Pegg stepped to the defense of Star Trek Beyond ’s director, Justin Lin, best known for Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6.

I hate people saying that because it’s Justin Lin it’s just going to be “Fast & Furious in Space!” It’s a kind of reductive, asinine criticism. Justin’s history as a filmmaker started off with a Sundance movie called Better Luck Tomorrow. He’s a smart, sensitive guy. The fact that he was able to energize the Fast & Furious series is a testament to his smarts as a filmmaker. He’s not just the car chase guy.”

Yes, it does seem many people are unhappy about Justin Lin as the director of a Star Trek movie:

While Pegg points to Lin’s non- Fast and Furious films for evidence of his intelligence as a filmmaker, Fast Five is already a fantastic argument for why he can be trusted with Star Trek. Though many filmgoers would box the Fast and Furious movies with Transformers and other summer explosion dreck, the series’ appeal goes far beyond action chops. Fast Five ’s biggest success is in balancing and humanizing a humongous ensemble cast. And while no one is likely to confuse Fast Five with the existential navel-gazing of Star Trek: The Motion Picture or the political brinkmanship of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, it juggles police corruption, the toxic political influence of money and the ad hoc bonds that emerge to form communal identities in zones of poverty and societal neglect.

Would a Star Trek movie animated by political idealism, bureaucratic negotiations and questions of contact with the truly alien be preferable to an endless Vine loop of Chris Pine riding a dirt bike off a ramp? Of course! But not only are those not the two poles of possibility, but this dichotomy also poorly reflects the actual history of Star Trek. The Star Trek movie most in keeping with the purists’ imaginings, Star Trek: The Motion Picture , is one of the most derided by fans, while big action-adventures like Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan are the most beloved.

Simon Pegg (who co-wrote the Star Trek Beyond script) and Justin Lin may very well get the balance wrong in Star Trek Beyond , but Pegg is more right than many Star Trek fans when he insists upon Lin’s abilities.

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