Oh, Star Trek, how the mighty do fall! Once the perennial cash cow for Paramount Studios, and the biggest franchise in all of television history, since the early 2000s the Starship Enterprise hasn't hit warp speed so much as it looks just plain warped. Some time in dry dock allowed J.J. Abrams to dress it up all pretty in Star Wars drag, though it still can't soar as it once did.
Now, with Star Trek Beyond set to take on Star Wars, along with the X-Men, Captain America, Batman, Superman, The Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman at the box office, the revived franchise faces its greatest test against very real and entrenched competition. Recalling the new cast, and with helmer Justin Lin in the director's chair, can Trek capture a healthy haul in receipts and keep interest in the series piqued? Or will Paramount start planning yet another reboot before the screen fades to black?
The first look promises lots of flash and noise, much like the previous two entries. Set to the techno-rap of the Beastie Boys, the first trailer offers some hints at the plot, and the sense that Trek will go cowardly where it has gone before, and with much less joy than in other outings. The recent announcement that Bryan Fuller will take on showrunner duties on a new Star Trek television series will make some fans rejoice, whereas this most recent trailer for the new film will make them set phasers to kill, and for some very good reasons.
10 Boldly Going?
9 Star Trek: Thunderdome
Mad Max: Fury Road proved one of the best films of 2015, and it looks like the makers of Star Trek Beyond realized as much. The trailer treats the audience to lots of shots of dystopian landscapes, of alien prison camps and antiquated technology. The 2009 film committed the same sin, and with the same Beastie Boys song, no less. In that film, Kirk steals a corvette convertible and drives it off a cliff...in the 23rd century. Astute viewers will also notice the heavy product placement in the rebooted series, which makes even less sense, given that in the Trek universe money and private business have largely been abandoned in favor of a society that works to improve itself, rather than for monetary gain.
8 "Science" Fiction
7 The Noise, Noise Noise!
6 Superhero Kirk
4 Guardians of the Galaxy
3 Nothing New
2 "On Screen"
1 Spock v. McCoy: Dawn of Justice
The Kirk-Spock-McCoy of classic Star Trek has always served as an arena for debating philosophical viewpoints, and indeed, the Trek series themselves have provided story metaphors for life's philosophical issues: The Wrath of Khan is about aging and death. The Undiscovered Country explores a changing world, no longer defined by Cold War-type rivalry. The greatest failure of the rebooted Trek films is that they have no subtext - they're not about anything. The characters never evolve in a meaningful way, and never face life and death questions about man's place in the universe. For all the cannibalized story twists and dialogue, how can the new films so brazenly avoid any kind of deeper themes? The trailer for Star Trek Beyond, for all its production value, explosions, action alien makeup and special effects offers nothing to stir and challenge the soul. In essence, it, like the rest of the recent films, looks like a hulking starship drifting through the cosmos without a captain, or a crew.
"Ok, let's never do that again," Kirk quips in the Star Trek Beyond trailer. Damn right! To paraphrase a great doctor: this series is dead, Jim.
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