No, seriously, what the heck is going on in the new Star Trek Beyond trailer?
The basics, I get: Something bad happens which destroys the Enterprise and maroons the surviving crew members [translation: the ones whose names we know] on a forest-like planet which has drone aircrafts and mean-looking aliens corralling stragglers into slave labor camps, maybe.
This pale-skinned female alien is a total badass who saves Kirk and claims to know what’s really going on. Let’s call her Pale Furiosa:
This intimidating-looking fella is presumably the lead villain thus meaning that has to be Idris Elba. The actor’s distinctive voice can be heard to proclaim, “This is where the frontier pushes back!” Oh, I see what you did there, Simon Pegg and Star Trek: Beyond co-writer whose name I don’t remember. The classic Star Trek voice-over prologue always starts, “Space, the final frontier, these are the voyages of….” Well, what happens if that frontier pushes back? It’d look an awful lot like this guy, who vaguely reminds me of maybe the Remans in Star Trek: Nemesis mixed with the Jem Hadar of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
We see surprisingly little of Spock, plenty of Uhura looking sad, a pretty good joke for McCoy, several action-y shots of Scotty and not much else. The whole thing is barely a minute and a half long, and in that time it also has several seemingly random shots, like this one of a claw-handed alien looking up, surrounded by destruction:
The biggest takeaway from this first look at the movie is that they have again decided that the best way to make a Star Trek movie is to actively work against what we popularly think of as being a Star Trek movie. A bunch of people up there on a space ship seeking out new civilizations and getting into trouble? Most of the time, sure, but not in this movie. In this movie, the Enterprise will blow up, go boom (or something like that). There is an interesting symmetry to that. [Spoiler warning] After all, in the original films Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is when the Enterprise was first destroyed, which is why they have that Klingon ship in Star Trek IV. It was a hugely controversial decision at the time because to some Star Trek just isn’t Star Trek without the Enterprise. Of course, that was years before Deep Space Nine and Voyager unshackled the franchise from the Enterprise.
Now, here we are entering Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary, looking forward to the third entry in the rebooted film franchise. Maybe the third time around is simply when you have to destroy the Enterprise. Those are the rules now.
Yeah, but didn’t they also do that in Star Trek: Generations?
Um, shut up about that. Third time’s a charm, that’s what I say. Plus, they just crash-landed the ole ship in Generations. It’s not like a vicious asteroid field tore it to shreds or Kirk tricked the Klingons into boarding the ship after he escaped and set the self-destruct timer, leading to an epic Christopher Lloyd freakout:
Beyond that, I know remarkably little about this movie after that teaser. That’s kind of exciting, especially after the “Benedict Cumberbatch is playing John Harrison. Not Khan. No, not him. We would never do that. Wink-wink” fiasco that was the advertising for Star Trek Into Darkness. With Beyond, all I know is that the Enterprise probably won’t be in it for very long, and there will be plenty of action with several new alien races (or re-imagined older ones). Sure, it looks roughly like what you’d expect a Justin Lin-directed Star Trek movie to look like, if maybe he watched Mad Max: Fury Road beforehand for inspiration. That looming war with the Klingons from Into Darkness may or may not be in play here, although I’m guessing Kirk’s budding relationship with Carol Marcus didn’t work out since she’s not in the trailer nor is Alice Eve listed on the film’s IMDB page. In fact, I’m betting that watching Beyond immediately after Into Darkness is probably going to reveal multiple plot points which will have been dropped in-between movies due to change behind the scenes.
Or not. Because, like I said at the start, I don’t really know what’s going on in this trailer. This most definitely is not the Star Trek I grew up on, more like a turbo-charged version of the JJ Abrams Star Trek, sans lens flare. The temptation is to criticize this for being too action-heavy, although BirthMoviesDeath pointed out that you could have said the same about the trailer for Wrath of Khan. You could also complain that this doesn’t exactly look like it will be a movie worthy of the franchise’s 50th anniversary. However, I don’t think there’s nearly enough here to make those kinds of conclusions. Instead, the answer to the question “What the heck is going on in this trailer?” is that there are lots of explosions, fighting and death-defying stunts. Spoiler alert: There will be action in this movie. What else? Wait for the next trailer to find out, and if this isn’t the version of Star Trek you prefer just remember that there’s a new TV series on the way on CBS in 2017. Before then, I’ll give Star Trek Beyond a chance on July 22, 2016.