Captain Jelico: “I won’t order you to fly this mission.” Riker: “Then ask me.”
News broke last week that Robert Ocri, who was slated to direct the next installment of the alternate universe Star Trek series, was no longer directing the movie. With this news, speculation has begun about who will take the helm for the new movie. Big names such as Edgar Wright have been suggested, but one of the most popular options (at least for Star Trek fans) has been Jonathan Frakes. Frakes played Commander William Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation and directed several episodes for that TV series. The popularity of this option has spawned the Twitter campaign #BringInRiker.
Here are three reasons that I think Jonathan Frakes would be an excellent choice to direct the next Star Trek movie.
1. He has experience in the franchise
Besides playing one of the key characters in TNG, Frakes also has experience directing episodes in the TV series. Some of the episodes that he directed are considered some of the best in their respective series such as “Drumhead” and “The Chase” in TNG, “Past Tense Pt.2” in Deep Space Nine, and “Prototype” in Voyager. Frakes also directed two of the Next Generation films, First Contact and Insurrection. Although Insurrection was not that great of a movie, this shows that Frakes has experience within the franchise. Out of all the possible directors for the new Star Trek movie, Frakes has the most experience in directing franchise films (excluding Nicholas Meyer, who is a long shot for the director’s chair). With his experience as an actor and director, Frakes has a good understanding of the Star Trek franchise and his knowledge of the franchise would make him a good fit to keep Star Trek moving forward.
2. First Contact
The best movie that Frakes has directed is Star Trek: First Contact. Although this was not a perfect film, it performed well in the box office, received good reviews and is generally considered one of the better films of the series. Out of all the movies before the rebooted franchise, First Contact is the most straightforward in terms of writing and action.
Frakes does a good job with fast-moving scripts. First Contact showed that given the right script, Frakes is able to make it move along at a brisk pace and is able to correctly shoot action sequences. If we look at the last two Star Trek films, they both were more geared towards action than thoughtful meditation. The emphasis on action and adventure is right within Frakes’s ability. If Frakes directed, we would be able to get a good combination of experience within the franchise and directorial skills.
3. He would make longtime fans more comfortable with the new movies.
Fans have been divided about the new movies. Some are willing to accept them as water-downed versions of the original franchise that are fun, but not really meaningful. Other fans view the new movies as the travesty against everything that they have grown to love. Part of the difficulty comes from the fact that J.J. Abrams was seen as not particularly caring about staying true to the feel of the original series and not having experience within the franchise. Having Frakes direct would ease some of the more skeptical fans into enjoying the reboot series. Since Frakes is a well liked actor and director in the Star Trek franchise, older fans would be able to feel more comfortable with the new movies. Hiring Frakes would be a nice gesture to long time fans of the series and show that Paramount does care about the history of the franchise.
Any discussion about who will direct Star Trek 3 is just speculation at this point, but I would love to see Jonathan Frakes direct the new movie.