Of­fer­ing from pop­u­lar fran­chise hopes to make a mark this time

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By XU­FAN

Chi­nese fans were scream­ing “Live long and pros­per” as the cast of Star Trek Be­yond made the iconic Vul­can hand ges­ture in the Indigo shop­ping mall nes­tled in down­town Bei­jing on Fri­day.

Fifty years af­ter the sci­encefic­tion fran­chise was cre­ated, “Cap­tain Kirk” and “Com­man­der Spock” were in the Chi­nese cap­i­tal to fan in­ter­est in an up­com­ing se­quel.

Among the stars on tour are Spock’s hu­man girl­friend “Lieu­tenant Ny­ota Uhura”, and the spacecraft USS En­ter­prise en­gi­neer “Mont­gomery Scott”, and the film’s di­rec­tor Justin Lin.

Star Trek Be­yond, the 13th ti­tle in the Star Trek movie se­ries and the third in­stall­ment of the re­booted fran­chise since 2009, will open in main­land the­aters in the 3-D, IMAX 3-D and DMAX for­mats on Sept 2.

In the lat­est se­quel, the En­ter­prise crew ex­plores space as part of a five-year mis­sion, dur­ing which they are at­tacked by a ruth­less new en­emy.

While the fran­chise has a huge fan base in North Amer­ica, there is much less recog­ni­tion for it in China.

The sec­ond in­stall­ment of the re­booted se­ries, Star Trek into Dark­ness, grossed only 353 mil­lion yuan ($53 mil­lion) in 2013, not even mak­ing the top 100 re­leases in China of all time, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from en­ter­tain­ment re­searcher Ent­group.

So will this new Star Trek movie in­ter­est lo­cals?

Si­mon Pegg, who stars as Mont­gomery Scott and has co-writ­ten the script, is con­fi­dent.

He says it will be a new­start and is fit for first-time watch­ers to dive into the story and be in­tro­duced to the char­ac­ters.

“We start with the char­ac­ters and from there we build the world, the sit­u­a­tions and the ac­tions,” he tells Chi­nese re­porters.

“The key is that we care about ev­ery role, and give them the right amount of screen time.”

For diehard fans, they’ll also be sur­prised to see a cou­ple of bold twists: The iconic spacecraft En­ter­prise is de­stroyed and the char­ac­ter Lieu­tenant Hikaru Sulu is openly gay.

“It was Justin’s idea to take down the En­ter­prise.

“My ini­tial re­ac­tion was that we can­not do that… But I soon re­al­ized that what Justin wanted to do was to take away the things that bond the crew to­gether. It’s the sig­na­ture mo­ment that the film is built on.”

The En­ter­prise, which has taken the crew around the vast uni­verse in a dozen films and TV se­ries, is the rock of the Star Trek fran­chise, but is rapidly torn apart in an am­bush in the film.

Mean­while, Hikaru Sulu, the only Asian face in the main crew, is a gay man with a hus­band and a daugh­ter in the lat­est movie, and this has sparked con­tro­versy in the United States.

Re­fer­ring to this, Chris Pine, who reprises his role of Cap­tain Kirk for the third time, says this is part of Star Trek’s trait of cross­ing bar­ri­ers.

Giv­ing ex­am­ples of this trait, Pine cites the fa­mous 1968 in­ter­ra­cial kiss, be­tween Wil­liam Shat­ner, who played Cap­tain Kirk, and Nichelle Ni­chols, who played Lieu­tenant Uhura, in the TV se­ries episode Plato’s Stepchil­dren.

It’s the first mixed-race kiss in the his­tory of tele­vi­sion in the US.

“If you take a look at the kiss, it’s not a big deal now…

“Star Trek was and is one of the most for­ward-think­ing, cre­ative fran­chises in his­tory,” says the 36-year-old Amer­i­can ac­tor.

“It al­ways pushes the bound­aries.”

Separately, Lin says that be­sides push­ing the bound­aries, Star Trek Be­yond has a legacy of fan­tasy that spans half a cen­tury.

“The Star Trek fran­chise doesn’t have any­thing that is re­lated to our lives, but it’s al­ways about us and our fu­ture.

“It’s a fu­ture where we (hu­man be­ings) stop fight­ing each other and fight (evil) aliens.”

For the Tai­wan-born Amer­i­can film­maker, Star Trek was a part of grow­ing up.

As his par­ents, who ran a lit­tle fish and chip restau­rant in Cal­i­for­nia, usu­ally fin­ished work at 9 pm, Lin says the fam­ily typ­i­cally ate at 10 pm and then let him watch Star Trek at 11 pm.

Putting a dif­fer­ent spin on the Star Trek fran­chise, ac­tress Zoe Sal­dana, who plays Ny­ota Uhura in the movie, says films such as Star Trek Be­yond have ed­u­ca­tional significance for chil­dren.

“These movies have a very im­por­tant mes­sage for chil­dren. It teaches them em­pa­thy at very early age, and helps them be­come good ci­ti­zens.”

PHOTOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Left: StarTrekBeyond, the 13th ti­tle in the Star Trek movie se­ries, will pre­miere on Chi­nese main­land the­aters on Sept 2. Right: (from left to right) Ac­tor Zachary Quinto, ac­tress Zoe Sal­dana, di­rec­tor Justin Lin, ac­tor Chris Pine and ac­tor Si­mon Pegg at­tend a pro­mo­tional event for the film in Bei­jing.

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