The third film in the rebooted Star Trek series seems to have been in the search of a director since like… forever. When J.J. Abrams departed for the Star Wars franchise, Paramount Pictures struck a deal with Roberto Orci, who had co-written the previous two films and also co-produced the last one, to make his directorial debut with Star Trek 3. I thought that was a brilliant move for I had loved the tone and depth of the storyline of both the previous two Star Trek films which made me confident that Orci would feel at ease in directing the adventures in the vast universe of this franchise. Having someone associated with an on-going tale to take over the reins keeps the continuity and the mood intact. But for whatever reasons, the partnership between Orci and Paramount remained short and Orci left the director’s seat empty.
Enter Justin Lin. He is the newly announced name by Paramount Pictures to helm Star Trek 3. Does that news excite me? To be frank, I have had to scratch my head to figure out how I felt about this decision. And till now, I feel nothing. Neither am I elated, nor am I too worried.
Justin Lin is most famously known for bringing the Fast and Furious series back to life. He directed the third to sixth instalments of the franchise, which has grown in scale with each sequel. So that makes one thing clear. Justin Lin knows what it is like to work in a big franchise. Just like he had characters thrust upon him in Fast and Furious, he would find himself in a similar situation with Star Trek 3. And despite that he would have to add some freshness to the movie so that it manages to distinctly stand out in the franchise. That is something Lin managed wonderfully with Fast and Furious where he allowed each of the movies in the franchise to have their own narrative that stands out from its predecessor. Another point in Lin’s favor is his experience of working with a huge cast. I do not expect Lin to be overwhelmed at all on the sets of the new Star Trek film, which a newcomer could easily have been. In the Fast and Furious franchise, Justin Lin worked with well-known actors with different personalities and backgrounds, and that kind of experience would have scored big when Paramount was going through the resumes of possible directors.
The worry is I do not know much about Justin Lin’s work beyond the Fast and Furious franchise. He directed the crime drama Better Luck Tomorrow (2002) and then another drama film titled Annapolis (2006), though I have seen neither of the films. Having been busy with the Fast and Furious franchise subsequently, Justin Lin would have had little time to think of directing any other movie. Now Star Trek is no Fast and Furious. Everyone knows that; the studio knows that, and I am sure that Justin Lin knows that. So I am not worried about fast cars finding their way in space. What could concern us though is how well Justin Lin would manage to blend the elements of science-fiction of the Star Trek universe so as to create a riveting and intelligent story, and at the same time keep the fast pace of the narrative along with the action alive. After all, even though Fast and Furious movies have had quite catchy narratives, they do work in a linear manner and hardly call for a very long attention span. Justin Lin would of course be guided by the script writers for the film (word is not out yet whether the draft script which Orci was working on would be retained or not), though I do hope he goes through the past Star Trek material in detail to get a feel of what it is to be in the USS Enterprise.
It is an interesting choice by Paramount Pictures, and not a bad one at all. Justin Lin was after all being coveted for the next Bourne movie with Jeremy Renner in the lead though that has supposedly been pushed back as a Matt Damon film is now in the making, which has freed up Justin Lin to come aboard Star Trek. There is no release date announced yet, though a 2016 release is what many expect as it falls on the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek series. As long as the studio can stick with the new director, this target is very much possible. Good luck to Justin Lin. Live long and prosper!