When Justin Lin was announced as the director of Star Trek 3 my brain pretty much broke. I like Lin a lot - his Fast & Furious movies are benchmarks in modern pop filmmaking - but his hiring seemed like nothing more than a continuation of the Star Warsing of Trek - here was a hyper-visual, action-oriented filmmaker taking over the reins of a very character-driven, often thoughtful series.
Well, I was wrong. Not in terms of Lin being a good or bad choice - they don't even start shooting for three more weeks! - but in terms of where he's coming from. See, Lin is a lifelong Original Series Trekkie.
“Growing up, my parents had this little fish and chips restaurant in Anaheim in the shadows of Disneyland, and they didn’t close until 9 PM. As a family, we didn’t eat dinner until 10 PM, and we would watch the original Star Trek every night at 11. My dad worked 364 days a year, only took Thanksgiving off, and from age 8 to 18, the only time I could hang out with my parents was by staying late. And every night, it was Star Trek on Channel 13 in L.A. That was my childhood. All my friends were Star Wars kids but I didn’t go to the movies, so I was the Star Trek kid."
Set phasers for emotion! That's a heckuva story, and it's the kind of deeply personal connection to Trek that makes me hopeful - it's not that Lin is talking about the minutia of lore or rattling off episode numbers, it's that these characters and their stories have a personal meaning for him.
For Lin there's a lot more to explore in this universe.
“As great as JJ’s films were, there’s still a lot to be mined from these characters. They haven’t really gone on their five-year mission, so what we experienced in the TV show hasn’t been touched on yet. That sets up an opportunity for exploration and the deeper you go, the more you are examining humanity. Those are the things that I absorbed as a kid and hope to tap into and embrace and celebrate."
"Examining humanity" - yes! That's a wonderful way of putting it. It sounds almost like... getting it. Speaking of getting it - will we be getting a rehash of some Original Series episodes this time around? Not at all, assures Lin:
"It’s all new and fresh. The Klingons, Romulans and other species are great, but it’s time to go further. It has been fun to focus on creating whole new worlds and species.”
Strange new worlds, Lin. That's what I like to hear.
Obviously a lot could go wrong - Lin says that the insane turnaround time on this movie makes it like a really expensive indie film - but Lin seems to get it and Simon Pegg's recent comments about the state of geekdom indicate to me that he gets it too. That these guys are definitely going to make a slam-bang blockbuster... but one rooted in the values of the original Star Trek. I could ask for nothing more.