Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now in theaters, in case you hadn’t heard.
Like everyone else, George Takei has “heard, read and seen a lot about” the latest installment in the incredibly successful franchise.
Takei, of course, knows a little bit about successful franchises, having played Mr. Sulu on the original Star Trek TV series and in the first four Star Trek motion pictures.
Not surprisingly, Takei prefers Star Trek to Disney’s (dis) Star Wars but for reasons that go beyond familiarity and personal allegiance.
“My preference is Star Trek,” he says in the accompanying video. “Yes, science-fiction, imaginative, great adventure but Gene Roddenberry had another dimension. He had a vision of a future about what America…the global society could be. [His] genius came to flower in addressing contemporary issues and be able to present them as futuristic.”
In other words, Roddenberry’s Star Trek used the outer space setting as a means to tackle controversial issues – including TV’s first interracial kiss — that were ‘too hot’ to deal with in a contemporary setting.
Star Wars, on the other hand, is “space fantasy,” according to Takei. “It’s enormously popular” and The Force Awakens will be a “gigantic success” but it lacks that extra dimension of the original Star Trek.
Takei, who is currently starring on Broadway in Allegiance, says he’s “proud of my association with Star Trek” but he isn’t a homer: Like many fans – and reportedly some actors of the film – he is disappointed in what he’s seen so far of the next Star Trek film, Star Trek Beyond, set for release next year.
Directed by Fast & Furious’ Justin Lin, the next Star Trek film has been “attacked by fans this week for relying too heavily on action sequences,” The Guardian reports. “Soundtracked by Beastie Boys song Sabotage, the trailer features kung-fu kicking aliens, phaser battles and an exploding Starfleet vessel.”
Takei had a similar reaction. “I did see a trailer – zip, bam, boom crash – a great terrific action adventure,” he says. “However I didn’t note that additional dimension which was nonexistent in past two JJ Abrams’ [Star Trek] movies.”
Abrams, of course, directed The Force Awakens, which is already setting box office records, so definitely not lacking for paying customers.