Dom-Jot Hustler: Star Trek Beyond’s Teaser Trailer
On the eve of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Paramount just dropped the first teaser trailer for the new Star Trek flick, Star Trek Beyond, presumably so that it can be tacked onto showings of the Star Wars film! I hear that it dropped a little earlier than Paramount had intended, as a German language leak of decent picture quality was out there.
I saw that version first and I was less than enthusiastic. It seemed more like a music video for the Beastie Boys than a Star Trek film. Instead of grand science fiction ideas or deep themes, we get a lot of kitschy humor. Instead of real stakes or character reflection that has been a hallmark of Trek, we get a another small woman who can beat up buys three times her size. Instead of real exploration or science fiction, we get.. a motorcycle?!
Then I saw the English version, the one Paramount officially released. While everything I initially thought about the trailer never really changed (it is all those things I said in the previous paragraph) my attitude did improve. Something in me changed. Now, I’m eager to see this film.
After all, it seems undeniable that this film looks like a good, albeit cheesy, fun. Considering that the last film tried to hit us with a lot of heavy themes and an exaggerated sense of it’s own importance, this looks like a needed change in tone. I like heavy themes in Trek, but they have to be executed well in order to work, and Star Trek Into Darkness piled so many of themes on so high while failing to actually tell a coherent A-t0-B plot. When did Khan and Marcus stop working together? Why did Khan go to Kronos so that Kirk would go after him there when he knew that’s exactly what Marcus wanted – and he and Marcus were enemies? Why didn’t Khan just ask Kirk for help to save his men instead of couching what was going on in pointless mysteries? These plot-points became even more muddled because they were interwoven with the film’s more interesting themes (such as Spock’s coming to terms with his emotions, or Kirk being humbled as a captain) and, by the time the third act came around and the plotting got even worse, I almost wished for a simpler, even cheesier, film…
And it seems that this is exactly what Star Trek Beyond will give us. Instead of nonsensical backstories and retreaded character beats about what no-win scenarios and grand sacrifices just thrown together in an incoherent and convoluted cauldron of a plot, this new film seems to (from what I can tell) have an A-to-B to-C story-line. The Swarm basically causes the Enterprise to crash-land, the crew has been taken captive, and the main characters have to survive on this alien world with no help from Starfleet. It’s a straightforward action piece where there is no need to try to figure out how to make sense of what happened before the events of the film (that wasn’t the case with Into Darkness).
Just because it’s a simple action film, doesn’t mean they can’t incorporate some more interesting and relevant themes into the story. Kirk, as captain, could be tested more here in his ability to lead than he was in the last film. Spock might learn a bit more about humanity, and why hope is important. Human ingenuity might triumph in the wake of broken technology. These are all themes worthy of a Star Trek adventure. What’s more, the film looks like what would happen if a 60’s Original Series episode was made with today’s effects. Nothing wrong with that.
A film doesn’t need to be as deep or as meaningful as Wrath of Khan to be good. And adventure doesn’t need to challenge the characters as much as they did in that film, where Kirk was confronted with his aging self and a true no-win scenario in ways he had never faced before. Not every adventure needs to resonate quite that much to be serviceable.
Another thing about Wrath of Khan. It was not a shallow film by any sense of the word, but the plot was actually very simple. The backstories were not convoluted, as they were in Into Darkness. Kirk and Khan shared a history, but that was it; it just set the stage for a revenge story. The actual plot was really simple: Kirk is lured into a trap and must fight Khan, he uses his ingenuity to escape their first encounter, and in their second, it’s his experience that largely allows him to triumph. The plot is as simple as A to B to C. Yet, how the story affects the characters (particularly Kirk) goes much deeper.
I’m eager to see a fun adventure that doesn’t have convoluted and conflicted backstories, something I can just watch. Sure, this film could be as bad as the very slight Star Trek Insurrection (incidentally, that was the first film I thought of when I first saw the German version of the trailer, and, yes, I groaned) but as long as the action is more competent and the story is tighter, that’s not a concern. There had been reports that Paramount wanted Trek to be more like Guardians of the Galaxy, and the new trailer hints at that kind of inspiration, but then, you remember that Trek has been around for fifty years now and has been doing both cheeseball science fiction and good science fiction in a live action format long before GotG saw it’s movie adaptation.
Here’s the trailer:
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