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If Roberto Orci's out, who should direct 'Star Trek 3'?

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Star Trek 2009

Roberto Orci will not be directing Star Trek 3, according to Deadline. Right now, you’re either a normal person asking “Who’s Roberto Orci?” or you’re a Star Trek superfan jumping for joy. Orci has co-written some megablockbusters—Transformers, the JJ Abrams Star Treks, The Amazing Spider-Man 2—and alongside his longtime collaborator Alex Kurtzman he co-created Fringe, the rebooted Hawaii Five-O, and Sleepy Hollow. But he’s been a controversial figure among Trek fandom. After Abrams switched galaxies to tackle the new Star Wars, Orci was on tap to direct the upcoming Star Trek rethreequel. Now it would appear that he’s off the project.

Orci was also writing Star Trek 3 with J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. It’s not clear whether the movie will move forward with the current script or if there’s rewriting afoot; it’s generally accepted that Paramount is hoping to release the film in 2016, just in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original series’ debut. Because of the ludicrous realities of contemporary blockbuster production, that means Paramount needs to find a new director…well, now. (Keep in mind: Warner Bros. made a big deal about hiring Michelle MacLaren to direct Wonder Woman, a movie coming out in mid-2017.)

So who should direct the next Star Trek movie—the third in the rebooted reality and the thirteenth since the franchise hit the bigscreen with 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture? Deadline mentions that Paramount is interested in hiring Edgar Wright, the High Nerd demi-god responsible for the ridiculously-beloved-by-whoever-saw-them Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and The World’s End. Adding some possible credence to this theory: Wright’s longtime collaborator Simon Pegg plays Scotty in the Star Trek films. Wright seems almost too perfect for a Star Trek film—his aesthetic is rooted in old-fashioned throwback sci-fi thrills. But Wright was supposed to make his blockbuster debut with Marvel’s Ant-Man before suddenly departing the project weeks before filming. Since then, he’s been attached to a few different original projects; we have to assume that his attachment right now is little more than “That’d Be Cool!” fanboy vapor.

If not Wright, then who? I asked the same question almost two years ago, offering a long list of directors who have since attached themselves to a host of major blockbusters. The exception is Shane Carruth, the sci-(lo-)fi auteur who still hasn’t released a follow-up to his devastingly beautiful curio Upstream Color. It still feels unlikely that Carruth will ever go Hollywood. But lemme throw out a tantalizing possibility: Why not Kathryn Bigelow? The only woman to ever win an Academy Award for Best Picture has recently become known for her hardcore-realist films set amidst the Middle East wars, but there was a time when she was best known as a practitioner of tough-yet-dreamy action movies with occasional fantasy elements, like Near Dark and Strange Days. (She also made the submarine movie K-19, and what is the Enterprise except a submarine movie in space?)

Star Wars has spent 2014 accruing young directors, with Rian Johnson, Josh Trank, and Gareth Edwards all slated to direct upcoming movies. That means there’s a shorter list of directors with the specific credentials for Star Trek—the mixture of adventure and battleship tension, the fantastical exploration and the futuristic worldbuilding, the mixture of character drama and allegory. The movie form 2014 that comes closest to all those tones is Snowpiercer, directed by South Korean auteur Bong Joon-Ho—but he’s already working on his next movie, and anyhow it’s hard to imagine his radical vision mixing with a blockbuster spirit. Conversely, the best movie of the year is a movie about drummers that feels like a tense action thriller—an indication that Whiplash director Damien Chazelle might be just the man to find whole new ways to make “The Shields Are Falling!” sound apocalyptic.

In my opinion, the best science-fiction movie of the year was Under the Skin—and I’d love to see Jonathan Glazer bring the Star Trek movies back into genuinely dangerous Big Idea territory, mostly eschewed in the fun-times Abrams films. Then again, maybe it’s time to do what so many other blockbuster franchises have done and reach into television. Last year, Community staged a concept episode that was straight-out of TOS, complete with utopian retro-future togas: Maybe it’s time for Dan Harmon to bring his dementedly elaborate ambitions to the big screen?

Also, yes, it would be cool of Guillermo Del Toro, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, or Stanley Kubrick directed this movie. What do you think? Email me your picks for the director’s chair at darren_franich@ew.com, and I’ll respond in next week’s edition of the Entertainment Geekly Mailbag!

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