Star Trek Movies Lose Both Chrises

He's dead. Jim.
Chris Pine, boldly going.

Paramount’s rebooted Star Trek movie franchise has a Chris Crisis. Or maybe we should call this A Tale of Two Chrises. 

As of this week, the current Trek feature films lost both of their actors named Chris — as in Pine (James T. Kirk) and Hemsworth (James T. Kirk’s late father George).  Both men reportedly walked after a breakdown in salary negotiations.

While the Kelvin Timeline can probably get by without Chris Hemworth’s contribution (Papa Kirk died in the teaser to the first rebooted film), it’s hard to imagine new Trek without Pine as Jim. It seems too early in the series, with only three prior flicks, to recast or totally remove the famous Captain Kirk role.

The upcoming 4th film was supposed to be about the Kirk family father and son dynamic (possibly through flashbacks, multiple universes, or time-travel).

The world also lost Anton Yelchin — the new Pavel Chekov — after the 3rd Trek film, in 2016 when the actor sadly died. This still leaves a robust supporting cast, but no Captain. What to do? Stop the new series entirely? Reimagine the character lineup with Spock as the new Captain? Hire a new actor to play Jim Kirk?

We’re looking at a science fiction universe full of canonized fantastical events, so the universe knows no bounds in explaining away anything unusual, story-wise.

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Here are five easy ideas to keep the Enterprise flying:

  1. Shelve the upcoming storyline for Film 4, and find a way to re-hire both actors for the subsequent 5th film, utilizing said father-son plot. Make current 4th movie a small story about something non-Kirky, and explain his absence by saying he’s on a Federation mission, elsewhere in deep space.
  2. Suck it up and hire a new actor for the role. It won’t be any worse than suddenly having a new Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, or switching out The Oracle in The Matrix Trilogy.
  3. Promote Zachary Quinto’s Spock to Captain and focus on the remaining  ensemble, rather than making these movies the Kirk & Spock Show. They’ve got some good actors in Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Zoe Saldana: they should use them.
  4. Try jumping in time a bit to tell stories of Captain Sulu on the USS Excelsior, which is known as a definite thing in the Prime Timeline, and could sustain all kinds of narratives. Bring along any of the current cast who are game for a new role on the new ship.
  5. Skip a generation completely by recasting/rebooting one of the “modern Treks” like The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, or Voyager. With the recently  announced CBS television Trek showcase for Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard, there might be renewed interest in a fresh young ensemble, set in the 24th century.

It can’t happen, since Pine is a current actor in the DC Extended Universe (attached to Wonder Woman), but I’d love it if Hemsworth told Pine not to stress about pay talks for Star Trek, because he could just leapfrog over to the Marvel world.  It’s not possible because actors apparently can’t be both DCEU and MCU cast members, but it would be just darn cool for Marvel to “own” all four superhero Chrises:  Hemsworth, Evans, Pratt, and now Pine.

Sir Patrick Stewart Back as the Beloved Jean-Luc Picard in New Star Trek

Wonder Woman 1984: Actor News, Story Continuity

DC’s Wonder Woman 1984 film, scheduled to arrive November 19, 2019, posted a first look at Kristen Wigg’s villain “The Cheetah” today, and at this point we know very little about the role. The sequel/prequel plot will somehow be squashed between the bulk of Amazon princess’ World War I origin entry last summer, and her final scene fast-forwarded to the present day with a Bruce Wayne reference (Wayne Industries).

This isn’t even including her featured cameos set in modern times during Batman V Superman (released March 25, 2016) and The Justice League (November 15, 2017).

We do know Chris Pine returns as Steve Trevor (another pretty Chris, playing another heroic Steve…yeah, we know), and we have to guess: is he also as immortal as Diana Prince seems to be? Prince is from a race of Amazons, so maybe I can buy that. But I don’t think immortality is contagious. Also…we saw Trevor die in Wonder Woman, right?  And not in a preserving block of ice, like the MCU’s Steve Rogers, so…WTF?

Comicbook.com offers some ideas how Steve Trevor can return. (Clones, magic, time jumps…) Pine’s Trevor was infinitely likeable, so okaaaaaay….but with Superman already resurrected, the DCEU is on shaky ground offering  actual stakes.

DC is clearly trying to catch-up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but breaking their timeline can’t help. The MCU has seen heroes return, but they’ve earned their way, keeping continuity almost completely intact over ten years — something of a major miracle.

 

In any case, we’ll be going both back and forth to the future in Wonder Woman 1984. To confuse things further, this is set shortly after Lynda Carter gave us her campy/cool (but also iconic) Wonder Woman TV series from 1975 to 1979.

How all of this will shake out better make sense, if the DCEU wants to keep the slight momentum they garnered with Gal Godot’s breakout Wonder Woman appearances in Batman V Superman, Wonder Woman, and The Justice League. Color us confused and tentatively hopeful.

Anyway, here’s the first photo of Kristen Wiig/The Cheetah in Wonder Woman 1984, as her human role…possibly looking at a stuffed cheetah in a museum?

 

Movie Review – A Wrinkle in Time

I’m trying to figure out how to make A Wrinkle in Time make any sense. I love fantasy and science fiction, and am very forgiving of stories in these genres. From the trailer, I figured this would be a really pretty excursion into time travel, with kids discovering their powers in a whimsical land. The early reviews seemed disappointing, but I figured something visually enchanting would be enough for a pleasant afternoon.

But honestly, after my viewing, I’m not sure where the plot was going at all. I’m more confused what this movie was about than I’ve been in…ever? I didn’t read the 1962 children’s book this was based on, so that might be a part of my confusion. But a movie should stand on its own, regardless.

The original, award-winning novel is a slender volume, and I tried to read it a few times in my youth. I devoured fantasy voraciously, re-reading Lord of the Rings annually, and hoped the movie would encourage me to go back and finally get through the book. I’m still the perfect target audience, so I’m forced to think the movie just isn’t a good one.

It’s certainly a baseline attractive flick, with some occasional unique imagery…but it’s not as lovely as many other fantasies out there. I was expecting something on the ambitious level of Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets (another convoluted and unsatisfying film, but a visual treat), or Avatar (which is a work of art AND delivers on its story potential). Disney can do outstandingly pretty work, and very recently too: as in Coco, Finding Dory, the new Star Wars films, and their most recent MCU offerings of Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. So,  A Wrinkle in Time gets a “+” tacked onto my review grade for being nice-looking — however, this studio should have made this older classic stunning, and could have, if they tried.

Story-wise, you don’t get to know the characters well at all, and the execution is very convoluted. The moment when [a plot thing] is found is completely underwhelming. Normally the child actors in a Disney film are pretty good, but I have to admit I didn’t care for any of the three leads. (Or the adult leads. Only Chris Pine, in essentially a cameo role, brought any spark.)

One other thing: I think a good compositional arrangement could have raised the bar on WIT considerably. A nice track, with some good evocative and repeating themes, would have gone a long way. Think of all the wonderful genre films that make you feel, care, and sometimes cry, cued along by a wonderful soundtrack. Think of almost anything by John Williams. Now imagine those movies without his work. WIT stood out musically, in absentia.

I wish I could say better things, and I’m sure some folks enjoyed WIT. Personally, I can’t recommend this one. Even in 3D, I didn’t think this was worth a trip to the theater. I was actually the only person in the room on opening night, and that made me wonder how everyone else knew the movie was going to be a flop. Not even Oprah or Reese Witherspoon (who really didn’t seem like they were trying) could save this film from the dustbins of…well…time.

Grade: D+