Back in 1979, the very first Star Trek feature film — Star Trek: The Motion Picture — was rated “G,” which literally means small children were allowed to see it. But, now, it looks like the next big screen Trek film will leave the family-friendly Trek vibe behind forever. Quentin Tarantino’s rumored new Star Trek film concept is reportedly underway, and he’s demanding that the movie be rated R.
On Friday, Deadline reported that the new Tarantino Trek project is moving forward and that he has selected Linsday Beer, Drew Pearce, and Mark L. Smith to write the film. Beer has credits on Transformers films, while Smith co-wrote The Revenant. Deadline also wrote that Tarantino “has required it to be R rated, and Paramount and J.J. [Trek reboot godfather J.J. Abrams] agreed to that condition.”
So, there’s literally no way this next Star Trek movie will be anything but dark, violent, and probably filled with swear words. And, that will almost certainly cause a purest Trekkie backlash more powerful than the Genesis Wave. Or will it? More importantly, should it?
On the one hand, fans might contend an R-rated Star Trek is sacrilege, and that excess violence, nudity, or swearing all compromise the squeaky-clean vision of a hopeful future. But, those fans would be mostly just referring to the buttoned-up ‘90s Star Trek: The Next Generation. And even in that series, Captain Picard got stripped naked and tortured. The original series had plenty of violence and tons of sex, too. In fact, classic Trek often ran into trouble with with various censors at NBC and local distributors in different states.
And as you move forward in time, for the most part, Trek gets edgier. Most consider 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to be the very best Trek movie of all time, and it’s easily the bloodiest up to that point. Dudes have space eeels getting jammed into their ears, Khan is hanging scientists, and Spock gets his face melted by radiation poisoning. You know, wholesome family entertainment.
Then, in the fan-favorite 1996 film Star Trek: First Contact, Picard has Borg needles popping out of his face in, like, the first few seconds and snaps the spine of the evil Borg Queen toward the end.
Superficially, Star Trek has always had violent or non-kid-friendly imagery. And tonally, even more so. We might think of Star Trek as being a kid-friendly world, but when it comes to sex, the characters in the Final Frontier actually have it, as opposed to say, Star Wars, where are everyone is a giant prude. Sexual relationships have informed the plots of countless Star Trek episodes, which has continued into the era of the new show, Star Trek: Discovery. Sure, it was a little jarring to see Klingon full-frontal nudity on Star Trek, and perhaps even more shocking when Tilly dropped the F-bomb, but none of this stuff detracts from the actual content of Star Trek.
Debating about what that content should or shouldn’t be can become slightly tedious, too. For some, Deep Space Nine is the best of all the Treks, for the simple fact that it was so transgressive. For others, the original series is the purest form. Hell, there are even some who could make a case for the prequel series Enterprise being excellent. The point is, unlike something like Doctor Who or Star Wars, there’s a ton of variety in the kinds of stories Star Trek can actually tell. Meaning, there’s probably room for some fucked-up Quentin Tarantino stories in there, too.
The new Star Trek film project helmed by Quentin Tarantino has not been confirmed yet by Paramount Pictures. Meanwhile, the second half of Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 returns on Sunday, January 7, 2018.