The Frontier Pushes Back




Against all odds, Paramount and Bad Robot have managed to get a Star Trek movie ready for release in the 50th anniversary year of the franchise. The question now is, will it be any good? Consider that it is following up a self-indulgent, obtuse, alienating piece of cinematic drivel, the bar will not be set high, nor will expectations. The simple fact of the matter is, despite Paramount's intentions and desires otherwise, NuTrek will not generate the same level of attention or anticipation as the Avengers or Star Wars or Jurassic World. And that is because we're already two films into this reboot and the goodwill has been spent.

But, with the release of the first trailer for Star Trek Beyond (another terrible title there fellas), I feel like now is the opportunity to give the new film a benefit of a doubt, and the easiest way for me to do that is to go through a list I made in the wake of Darkness, a list of 7 things I believed the franchise needed to do in order to get back on track.

1) Dump the creative team: accomplished. While Bad Robot is still producing the film, you can be sure that mostly meant Bryan Burke making sure the money didn't run out. Gone are the toxic, nostalgic fingerprints of Kurtzman and Orci (though Orci will still get a story credit despite contributing nothing to the finale product). And all the while Beyond was in production, J.J. Abrams was making the Force Awakens, so you can be damned sure he wasn't paying attention to a franchise he didn't give a shit about in the first place.

In their place are Fast and the Furious franchise director Justin Lin, brought in to action things up a bit, with script writing duties given to Simon Pegg and TV writer Doug Jung. Pegg was asked to do a page one rewrite by Paramount when they, as he explained, "had a script for Star Trek that wasn't really working for them. I think the studio was worried that it might have been a little bit too Star Trek-y. [I was tasked to] make a western or a thriller or a heist movie, then populate that with Star Trek characters so it's more inclusive to an audience that might be a little bit reticent." The idea of the studio thinking a Star Trek film was too Star Trek-y does not bode well.

2) Maintain the Trinity: Ehh... ish. While the first two played up Kirk and Spock's friendship, they have all but abandoned McCoy to the outer reaches of comedic relief. While this trailer certain gives McCoy a single strong moment, the direction the series has been heading in has cast Scotty more and more as the third man in this trinity, and this trailer does nothing to deter that line of thinking (also, with Pegg writing the script, why wouldn't he give himself more to do?).

3) Use the characters: yet to be seen. Aside from Kirk and Spock, none of the rest of the characters have had much to do in any of these films beyond one big scene in each. I doubt this one will be any different. Especially since they've added a new female alien character, played by the Kingsman's Sofia Boutella, rather than promote the role of an established character. Also, it should be noted that it appears that Pegg's script all but ignores Darkness, as Alice Eve's Carol Marcus is no where to be seen.

4) No more cameos: with the sad passing of Leonard Nimoy, we can at least be assured that the memory of Spock will go unblemished this time around. And no rumours of other former stars making an appearance have surfaced, meaning that this film might actually be focused on it's own story rather than dry-humping 50 years of franchise memories.

5) Be original: all signs point to yes. It would appear that, considering the intense negative backlash against the senseless nostalgia of the first two films, this movie has opted to give us an original plot rather than co-opting other people's better ideas (I would be remiss not to note that all the tendencies and callbacks that people hated about Darkness is exactly the same things everyone loved about Jurassic World, proving that people are fickle and ridiculous). But the plot (the Enterprise is destroyed, the crew kidnapped and put to work on an alien planet as slaves) seems both in keeping with the spirit of the Original Series, and is an original yarn. It is at this point that I need to cop to advocating what Pegg was specifically tasked with, applying alternate genres to the Star Trek frame-work. Whether that works out for them is yet to be seen.

6) New villains: yup. No Klingons, Romulans, Borg, Ferengi or Gorn to be seen. Idris Elba's baddie is a full face prosthetic, reptilian creature of unknown creed and origin, who apparently takes issues with the Federation's expansionist intent. With an action director in the chair, and a worry that a previous script was too Star Trek-y, it might be too much to hope for a film that is a political allegory for the way Europeans barged into the New Frontier of North America and steamrolled the native population into near oblivion, and that Elba's character might take on the role of the natives steamrolling back. I do have faith in Pegg's scripting abilities, and his own love of the franchise to do right by Trek. So, on the surface, I think we have reasons to be very extremely cautiously optimistic about Star Trek Beyond, but I sure as hell am not giving it my lunch money just yet.

7) Return to TV: unrelated to the film, but it is happening.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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