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Starfleet goes Guantanamo? 'Star Trek' team hints that the next film will reflect contemporary war issues

September 15, 2009 |  3:00 pm


I was in Vancouver visiting the set of "Fringe" (you'll see that story here on Thursday) and caught up with two of the show's key creators, J.J. Abrams and Roberto Orci, who are also squarely at the center of the "Star Trek" universe now. They had great success with the revival of the grand old Starfleet mythology with Abrams directing and Orci co-writing (along with Alex Kurtzman)  and I had to ask about their plans for a follow-up film, which will have Damon Lindelof added to the writing team and is aimed at a summer 2011 stardate at theaters.

Abrams spoke about the general creative imperatives for the story while Orci hinted that we might be seeing clear metaphors for modern geo-political concerns in the story about ongoing mission of the Starship Enterprise. First, here's what Abrams told me: 

"The ambition for a sequel to 'Star Trek' is to make a movie that's worthy of the audience and not just another movie, you know, just a second movie that feels tacked on. The first movie was so concerned with just setting up the characters -- their meeting each and galvanizing that family -- that in many ways a sequel will have a very different mission. it needs to do what [the late 'Trek' creator Gene] Roddenberry did so well, which is allegory. It needs to tell a story that has connection to what is familiar and what is relevant. It also needs to tell it in a spectacular way that hides the machinery and in a primarily entertaining and hopefully moving story. There needs to be relevance, yes, and that doesn't mean it should be pretentious. If there are simple truths -- truths connected to what we live -- that elevates any story -- that's true with any story."    

Here's what Orci had to say:

"We’ve literally had two meetings now. We haven’t decided anything but we’re starting to circle around some ideas. We got a lot of fan response from the first one and a considerable amount of critical response and one of the things we heard was, ‘Make sure the next one deals with modern-day issues.’ We’re trying to keep it as up-to-date and as reflective of what’s going on today as possible. So that’s one thing, to make it reflect the things that we are all dealing with today.

I asked Orci somewhat flippantly if that meant we might see Starfleet grappling with the ethics of torture or dealing with a rising terrorist threat or perhaps a painful, politicized war with the Klingons.

"Well yeah, those are the kind of issues we're talking about. Wow, you're good! But seriously that's the way we're thinking, that's an approach. So if you have any ideas ... "

As an aside, I also mentioned to Abrams that I had interviewed James Cameron recently and that the "Titanic" filmmaker had been gushing about his fondness for the "Trek" revival and cited it along with "Up" as the stand-out blockbusters of 2009.

"James Cameron, as in the James Cameron? Well, it’s incredibly sweet and, frankly, it’s just weird. I mean, it’s always a ridiculous thing to hear that someone like James Cameron even knows what you do. To hear that, it’s blush-inducing. Now tell me about 'Avatar' ... "

And I did...

-- Geoff Boucher