The 'Star Trek' franchise had all kinds of ups and downs over its 50-year history -- there have been great shows and a bad shows, brilliant movies and insipid ones, memorable starship Captains and Captain Janeway. Now, however, the franchise faces its greatest threat yet. Please don't let Roberto Orci direct 'Star Trek 3.'

As reported by Variety, Orci and his longtime co-writer Alex Kurtzman are parting ways -- at least, in terms of working on movies together -- and Orci has his sights set on directing 'Star Trek 3.' In addition to penning the previous two 'Star Trek' movies (with a helping hand from Damon Lindelof), the duo were responsible for the first two 'Transformers' movies, 'Mission: Impossible III,' 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' and numerous other wildly successful films. Their parting is apparently amicable, and their many in-development films and TV productions won't be effected.

But the reason for their splitting up is that they both want to pursue directing careers. Kurtzman already nabbed 'Venom,' the upcoming 'Spider-Man' spinoff, and Orci is apparently pushing very hard to get the 'Star Trek 3' gig, especially since he's already co-writing the script. With previous director J.J. Abrams off making 'Star Wars: Episode 7' and rumored directors Jon Chu and Joe Cornish no longer attached to 'Star Trek 3,' the field is wide open.

Although we were less harsh on 'Star Trek Into Darkness' than other fans (and we're actually very fond of the original 2009 reboot), giving the helm to Orci feels like a massive mistake. It's not that he's a fledgling director (he's been on enough huge sets to know his way around them), it's that his screenplays frequently contain ideologies that are in direct opposition to what 'Star Trek' is about in the first place. His obsession with conspiracy theories and the evils of government serve him well in other blockbuster arenas, but they feel downright offensive in Gene Roddenberry's 'Trek' universe, which was created to be an idealistic world where mankind joins together in the spirit of hope and optimism to journey into the unknown and better themselves. Orci has never written a screenplay imbued with that spirit and it was especially offensive in 'Star Trek Into Darkness,' where Captain Kirk and the crew ran afoul of a Starfleet plot that could only have been written by a 9/11 "truther" (Orci has never been shy about his beliefs on this front). Only director J.J. Abrams and his stellar cast managed to elevate the past two films from the muck in which Orci and Kurtzman planted the foundation.

We're sure Orci would make a slick movie. We're sure it would be competent and watchable for people without too much personal investment in 'Star Trek.' But with the 50th anniversary of the franchise just around the corner, Paramount owes it to fans to course correct and give the job to someone who gets what this series is all about in the first place. Reportedly, Paramount isn't sold on him as a director yet, and we can only hope they remain unsold.

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