In less than a week, Disney and Lucasfilm will blow up the “Star Wars” franchise in a big way. No, we’re not talking about the Death Star — the companies are set to expand the “Star Wars” film universe by introducing the first-ever non-Saga film, a film that doesn’t belong in a trilogy: “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
Set to zero in on a specific event in the established cinematic universe (a heist that attempts to intercept the construction of the Death Star, specifically), the film will serve up a one-off tale that aims to world-build, offer up a different tone from previous “Star Wars” films, and introduce a slew of new characters. Really, it’s a great idea, and a long time coming. It’s kind of a no-brainer, really, which begs the question: Why hasn’t “Star Trek” experimented with a “Rogue One”-style anthology film?
It’s pretty baffling, when you really think about it, how little effort Paramount has put into the “Star Trek” movie franchise. With such a long-running, beloved property on their hands, you’d think the studio would exploit every opportunity it could to bring as many “Trek” films as possible to the big screen. Even the handling of the movies that do come out could use some work. For instance, consider the studio’s treatment of the 50th anniversary. While “Star Trek Beyond” was a fun outing, was that really all we could get out of such a major milestone? For a property that explores strange new worlds, Paramount plays it pretty safe when it comes to “Trek,” delivering reboot films that rehash a lot of material from previous outings, or focus on a similar batch of characters. For this reason, we think a “Rogue One”-style film could do “Trek” a lot of favors.
The modern wave of “Star Trek” films could use some serious world building. With such an extensive lore, there’s really no need for “Trek” to keep focusing on the Enterprise and its flagship crew (Kirk, Spock, Scotty and co.) With a “Rogue One”-style movie, “Trek” could zero in on a particular moment in the franchise’s long history — for example, the Battle of Wolf 359, which rippled through several of the ’90s “Star Trek” TV series. How cool would it be to get a guerilla warfare-style or space opera centered on the great Borg battle? Not only would such a focused film expand on an established, and beloved, moment in “Star Trek” history, but it could also offer up an exploration of something mentioned on the TV series that was never really played out to a great extent on the small screen. Why not introduce some new characters, and get their perspective on the battle?
Wolf 359 is just one example — there are plenty of oft-mentioned events in “Trek” history that have yet to be showcased on the big screen. Focusing on such events would only add to the “Star Trek” lore. Instead, we’ve gotten a lot of moments in the rebooted “Trek” universe we’ve already seen to a certain extent. Just look at “Star Trek Into Darkness” which rehashed a plethora of moments from the seminal “Wrath of Khan,” to little effect.
“Rogue One” is also a great achievement for its unique visual perspective on the “Star Wars” universe. The film is set to offer up a different cinematic approach to telling a “Star Wars” story, with lenses, angles and sets unique to any other “Star Wars” outing thus far. “Star Trek” could also benefit from a visual upgrade. After three Abrams-directed and/or produced films we’ve gotten a very similar (yes, lens-flare) aesthetic that was unique in 2009, but has since grown a tad tiresome. Though Justin Lin injected a fast-paced, kinetic approach to the franchise with “Star Trek Beyond,” we feel a different director could take “Trek” a step further, reflecting its maturity — which is very distinctly sophisticated, and in a lot of ways more advanced than “Star Wars” — by showcasing the talents of an unconventional filmmaker that wouldn’t normally tackle a franchise like “Star Trek.”
A “Rogue One”-style film could also bring in a much-needed fresh audience to “Star Trek” that might not be so affectionate toward the current approach to the franchise’s storytelling. An anthology one-off take on the property could explore a different, more sophisticated tone. In the ’90s, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” changed up “Trek” to great effect by injecting a darkness and moral complexity into Starfleet that deepened the lore and changed it forever, for the better. “Star Trek” is deeper than “Star Wars,” so why not embrace that? Just because “Star Trek” is mainstream entertainment doesn’t mean it has to shy away from tough topics. In fact, the property is basically designed to handle societies complexities, so it’s really prime for tackling issues of our times in an allegorical manner. Or, Paramount could take it in the other direction, and offer up a “Star Trek” anthology film that’s designed to be accessible for all-ages. You could zero in on Starfleet Academy (an idea from way back in the ’80s), or some kid-friendly elements of Trek lore, like the Tribbles, which could be handled in a cute, “Guardians of the Galaxy”-style Baby Groot kind of way.
Ultimately, “Star Trek” needs to bring something different to the big screen. A “Rogue One”-style anthology film could be the perfect litmus test for exploring a different approach to the property. After all, with so much material to mine from and various incarnations to be inspired by, there’s no excuse for the same kind of “Trek” we’ve gotten over the last few years…
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