I’ve seen a little bit of news about Star Trek Beyond here and there lately. Not that I paid much attention to it. I was so put off by the trailer, a couple of months ago, I haven’t given it second thought.
Seriously. I thought it was that bad.
But I noticed the news and it got me to thinking about the state of Star Trek. I watched that trailer again…and I facepalmed. Mr. Roddenberry, do you know what they’ve done?
Fans have their own impression about the thing they’re passionate about, and I get that it’s not going to be the same forever. It will evolve for todays audience. People baulked at the idea of the J.J. Abrams reboot. I know I was apprehensive, but I would give it a chance.
In 2009, we were given a popcorn fun, action oriented, special effects bonanza with a story that centered around Mr. Star Trek, himself. The relationship between Kirk and Spock came across (to me) much like a cop buddy movie, Lethal Weapon. It tried to pull on the emotional strings a bit with the destruction of Vulcan. I don’t think that would have worked as well without Leonard Nimoy.
It was okay. Serviceable. Not an intellectual treat, but tolerable.
Star Trek – Into Darkness (2013) borrowed from the most holy of canon material, and continued with the alternate timeline started in the first movie. On a side note: I do have to say, I liked the convenient explanation, worked into the first movie, for this new timeline that basically allows these movies to exist. So rather than repeat The Wrath of Khan, they switched a few key details to try to give us a different take on that story.
It didn’t carry nearly the same emotional weight, though, with those events happening without Kirk and Khan ever having met (See Star Trek: TOS – Space Seed). Rather than being pissed at Kirk, he was pissed at Robocop…uh, I mean Peter Weller and hilarity ensues.
I should point out that Gene Roddenberry was forced out of the production of Star Trek II and I don’t think he had much, if any, involvement with the film franchise after that. So technically they’re not Roddenberry Star Trek films but even still, the remaining films did have very Roddenberry-like themes: Friendship, loyalty, responsibility, death, and even social themes that the original series was known for like prejudice and religion. And at the center of these stories – some were pretty damn bad (I’m looking at you Star Trek V) – there were still characters that we could largely care about.
One of my chief complaints about these new films is that they move so damn fast. Sure they may have a lot of ground to cover, but its like they speed through any character development so they can get to the next expensive effects sequence. They try to give every character their “moment” in each film, but everything happens so fast its like each of these characters steps on to the stage just long enough to perform a trick and they’re gone again. And I mean to sound critical of the cast. I like the cast. I think they’re doing a good job, on the whole…with what they’ve been given to work with.
So now we get to do it all over again this summer with Star Trek Beyond.
I know basically zero about the story except for what the teaser trailer has shown. The Enterprise looks like it gets destroyed (again). The crew is stranded somewhere in the middle of no where and somehow there is a motorcycle on this planet??? And when did the Beastie Boys in Star Trek become a thing?
When the trailers for the first movie came out, I was curious because it was a reboot. When the Into Darkness trailers came out, I was curious because Khan was supposed to be in it. When this trailer came out, I was…”Meh”.
I just think the heart has been ripped out of Star Trek and Beyond isn’t likely to do anything at all to repair the damage. Notice I didn’t say “franchise”. A franchise is what we have now…and that’s the problem.
There was one thing in the Beyond trailer that I did identify with, though. A possibly prophetic statement that may be on the minds of audience and Paramount Executives alike:
“Okay. Let’s never do that again.”