Posted on Tuesday, December 15th, 2015 by Peter Sciretta
The first teaser trailer for Star Trek Beyond hit the internet yesterday, exciting a lot of people but also pissing off some long-time Trekkies. The complaint is that the movie presented didn’t feel like a Star Trek movie, but instead a modern in-your-face blockbuster. But if you ask director Justin Lin, he’ll quickly remind you it’s just a minute and a half of the movie.
After the jump I present to you excerpts from my hourlong roundtable conversation with Justin Lin, in which he responds to fan criticisms, talks about his personal relationship to Star Trek, the origins of the film’s title, the music choice, the inspiration of the original TV series, what he gave up to direct Trek, his idea for the film, whether it will continue plot lines from Into Darkness, the screenwriting credits, working on a Trek movie with a producer who is directing Star Wars, whether he plans to return to do another Trek movie, and much more.
Sitting at a table on the Paramount lot with a few of my colleagues, Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin explained the idea behind the first teaser trailer:
Well, its a minute and a half, you know… And again, there were other versions that were much more traditional and I can see where maybe the hardcore fans could probably see that as, “Oh.” But with trailers you’re putting a two-hour movie into a minute and a half, and the one thing I wanted to make sure is that it hopefully represents that we are trying to be bold and take risks, whether we are successful or not, I don’t know. That was something I was excited to do and with collaborators like Simon [Pegg] and Doug [Jung], passion for the franchise will be there regardless. So however it’s presented, yeah it’s a minute and a half, and my challenge to everyone making the trailer is about saying “let’s not go off course, I’m not afraid to share — share it, I feel like we have the goods in a two-hour run and you really do get to know the characters and hopefully the journey is great. I love it and the cast did an amazing job and the crew… and the inside baseball version of the creation of this Trek was pretty condensed in how you usually make a movie of this size. And I wanted us to be bold, I wanted us to take chances and hopefully in a minute and a half we are able to convey that.
As for those fans who think Lin might have made a Fast & Furious movie set in the Trek universe, Lin understands where the criticism is coming from:
Yeah, and I don’t know if that’s the case here. When I saw the teaser, I’m like, aw shit. You really have to put the motorcycle in there? So I get it, I get it, I get it.
When someone else brings up the shot that looks very reminiscent of Letty-Dom flying through the air from the Fast & Furious films, Justin smiles and smirks, “Yeah, well I’m who I am.”
The Music Choice
The Beastie Boys song “Sabotage” was featured in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek, with young James T. Kirk listening to the music while taking a car for a joy ride on Earth. But the new teaser trailer uses the song prominently, which registers almost like a statement. Lin assures us that the song is in the film (“I wanted to make sure we didn’t do anything that was just trying to pump something else in”) and explains his reason for using the track in the teaser:
It’s in the DNA of this canon. It was in the ’09 Trek, and we went through different iterations of the teaser and I wanted to make sure whatever here is using all the elements from the film. It’s been a part of this Kirk’s journey and so I felt it was very organic, and it will ultimately be in the finished film.
Justin Lin’s Relationship/History With Star Trek
And while Lin might not be as huge of a Trekkie as his co-writer Simon Pegg, he was a huge fan of the series growing up.
The one thing that was when I came on this [film project], I didn’t even realize how emotional my level of engagement with Trek was until the first day of preproduction when I walked into the hallway of the Enterprise and it hit me. It’s part of me but my level of engagement with Trek was really from 8 to 18, when I would watch Trek at 11 PM on channel 13 with my dad. He worked all day, closed shop at 9 PM and dinner at 10 and watched Trek. And so a lot of that is trying to create something that embraces the essence of Trek for me. Simon has a very different level of engagement, and Doug also has a very different… so it’s awesome to get in there and have those collaborators and have that discourse about how we were going to craft this movie. ‘Cause Simon, he knows EVERYTHING about Trek and it’s great to have those guys with me the whole way.
Origins of the Star Trek Beyond Title
Lin reveals the title Star Trek Beyond was crafted by Pegg and was inspired by his initial conversation with Abrams.
He kind of tracked me down and we’re talking and I didn’t know what to expect. I thought maybe he was offering to go shoot a script that existed and he said, no, it’s yours. Go and be bold. And just take it. Be bold and make it what you think you would do to Star Trek. And the more we talked about it, the more we kept saying, well let’s keep pushing. Let’s keep pushing. And that’s when Simon kind of said, well it should be Star Trek Beyond. And it was his idea. And it was kind of came from all our conversations. And we looked at each other and like oh, that sounds like the title of this film.
After the jump, Justin talks about the inspiration of the original TV series, having to pay a price to direct Trek, his idea for the film, whether it will continue plot lines from Into Darkness, the screenwriting credits, working on a Trek movie with a producer who is directing Star Wars, and whether he plans to return to do another Trek movie.