I have had a little over 24 hours to ponder on the first trailer that has been released for next year’s Star Trek Beyond. This motion picture hopes to carry on the traditions of what came before. Star Trek is responsible for television’s first interracial kiss, first same-sex kiss, and first person of color in a position of command among other things. What started out as a campy space opera with cardboard sets and Styrofoam rocks has grown into an institution that has inspired millions. This film is meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this venerable franchise and while I’ll admit that the trailer was explosive, action packed and exciting, it still leaves me concerned that Star Trek has now become nothing more than Fast and Furious: The Next Generation. While this may have been an intentional move when Furious films director Justin Lin was brought in to helm this installment of NuTrek. In case you haven’t seen the trailer yet, here it is:
First of all, let’s talk about the U.S.S. Enterprise. This ship is probably the most iconic character from Star Trek. She is a symbol of hope, like the TARDIS or the Bat-Signal. She is far more person than vehicle, and the powers that be at Trek’s helm would do well to remember that. If what we see in the trailer is true, then they are going to lose the ship, torn apart by what looks to be Klingon Ships. If this is for a grand purpose and it served the greater good, then so be it. However, I’m afraid that it will be done just to further the plot and nothing more, and that I am not ok with. In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Enterprise is sacrificed to rescue Spock—one even might argue the entire galaxy from the Klingons. The Enterprise even seemed like a willing participant in her own destruction, counting down the last seconds of her own life, almost gloating in the fact that she got one more over on the Klingons before she is destroyed. That ship means something. That death was fitting. She truly died to, “give death a fighting chance to live,” as McCoy put it. She was sacrificed to save family and we mourned her loss. We haven’t even got to know the Enterprise outside of fleeting glimpses and seeing her torn to bits in the two previous films. It seems like the whole goal of NuTrek is to destroy the Enterprise only to reassemble her again, a symbolic gesture, making Trek look less and less like its former self each time its disassembled.
In my opinion, Star Trek has always stood far above other Sci-Fi genres. It made you do what truly good science fiction always does: observe the human condition from an outside perspective. Star Trek has always challenged our preconceptions and beliefs, helping us to be better humans in the process. Before Star Trek 2009, the Trek films were never true blockbusters…they were never meant be that at all. They performed admirably, but they never achieved, for the most part, the financial success of the Star Wars Films. They were what they were, an extension of the Star Trek universe in motion picture form. They firmly built upon the Trek Lore that came before them, helping to establish our 20th and 21st century mythology. Great men with god-like powers coming down from on high to help mankind (sometimes not in good ways). These new films, while fantastic action films, are not great Star Trek Films. That is perhaps the saddest thing about what we see so far from this new film. It’s meant to celebrate the golden anniversary of the greatest Science Fiction franchise in history, but aside from having familiar characters and locales, it won’t be Star Trek…it will be Star Trek-flavored…but it won’t really be Star Trek. Paramount seems determined to make Trek a tent-pole blockbuster franchise, and they’re succeeding, but in the attempt they are sacrificing what made Gene Roddenberry’s creation so special…it’s heart and meaning.
Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate, but take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms. If we cannot learn to actually enjoy those small differences, to take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there. -Gene Roddenberry
There is however something positive I have seen the new Star Trek films do, they have brought Trek to the attention of millions of new fans. These new films are full of excitement, but not much exposition. However, one hopes that the new fans are interested enough to check out the 700+ episodes of Trek and 12 movies that came before it.
I will go see this film, and I’ll bet I will like it. I believe it will make Paramount buckets of money. It’s going to be edge of your seat exciting, and will more than likely lead to a fourth film. I will probably think, “WOW, what a great action film.” When I leave the theatre what I won’t be thinking about are things like things like social justice, equality and humanities’ future, and that is sad. I suppose I will hold out hopes for when Star Trek returns to the small screen in 2017. Maybe then we can get back to what makes Trek so valuable…
Star Trek speaks to some basic human needs: that there is a tomorrow — it’s not all going to be over with a big flash and a bomb; that the human race is improving; that we have things to be proud of as humans. No, ancient astronauts did not build the pyramids — human beings built them, because they’re clever and they work hard. And Star Trek is about those things. -Gene Roddenberry
Star Trek Beyond opens in Theatres on July 22nd, 2016.
What are your thoughts? I challenge you to change my mind. Please comment, LIKE and share to encourage open, honest dialogue.