What We Want From Joe Cornish’s ‘Star Trek 3’: A Monster Episode

By  · Published on November 3rd, 2013

After the terribly disappointing Star Trek Into Darkness, there may be hope for the next installment in the very good possibility that Joe Cornish will direct Star Trek 3. Yesterday, Deadline exclusively reported the rumor, whatever that really means, and ever since I’ve been trying to imagine what this development could mean. A lot of fans of both Cornish and Trek have been debating the pros and cons of the pairing. Cornish is too inexperienced as a director, some say. He shouldn’t waste his time with a franchise threequel, others argue.

Well, I am optimistic for a few reasons. One is that we’ll probably get more Simon Pegg’s Scotty, because Cornish and Pegg go way back – he helmed behind-the-scenes docs for Pegg and Edgar Wright films and also scripted The Adventures of Tintin, which featured voice work from the actor. And maybe he could find a role for Pegg’s buddy Nick Frost, who acted in Cornish’s sole feature directorial effort, Attack the Block. Mostly, though, it could be a lighter, more humorous episode. Not just if that reunion happened, but because of the Star Trek stuff Cornish has done in the past. Namely the TNG parody from The Adam and Joe Show that you can watch after the jump.

Obviously nobody is going to let a big budget Trek installment be too silly, but why not let part 3 take a more fun direction following part 2’s convoluted plot? I don’t know a ton about Star Trek, specifically regarding how often the show got away from the political science fiction stuff and just went for cheesy monsters, but I do think Cornish would be the director to pay tribute to, say, the first-aired episode, “The Man Trap,” which dealt with a salt-hungry alien not too different from the ape-like creatures from Attack the Block. Even more suited to what Cornish previously worked with is the gorilla-like Mugato of “A Private Little War.” There is also the nasty blob monster Horta from “The Devil in the Dark” and the rock-formed Excalbian of “The Savage Curtain.”

Or how about the Tribbles? We’ve already seen the fuzzy creatures in the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek and then again in McCoy’s lab figuring into a significant part of Into Darkness. So, part 3 couldn’t have the kind of introduction we saw in “The Trouble With Tribbles,” but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be its main focus. Think of the new generation of Tribbles toys Paramount could license. Think of how much fun it’ll be seeing Chris Pine attempt to do his best take on William Shatner’s deadpan reactions. Canon could be altered somewhat to make them more deadly, to create an actual plot. And the Klingons, which really hate tribbles, could be brought back after their brief appearance in the last film.

I understand that all this points to a cheesy installment for what’s so far been a pretty serious series. I don’t know that Cornish should be the Joel Schumacher of the franchise and be the one to bring back some of the campier elements of the original show. But I do think he could work the camp in better than was done with the Batman movies.

Even if Cornish signs on to direct, though, he may not have much creative input in spite of his greater job as a screenwriter (he’s co-writer of the upcoming Ant-Man, too). Star Trek 3 is being penned once again by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and Abrams is remaining as a producer. So unfortunately, we probably won’t get the more fun sequel I want.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.