The Star Trek Beyond trailer premiered mid-December to a mixed reception, and with its focus on action sequences it's easy to see why the trailer divided fans. Star Trek is often touted as the intellectual scifi show, though of course it has its roots firmly in the fun of adventure as well as the intrigue of a good thought experiment. Striking a balance between these two elements can be tricky, and in recent years the movies have swayed more towards the spectacular side of the story.
But Star Trek Beyond is set to hearken back to the golden era of Trek, by incorporating all the elements that made the franchise great. How do we know this? Aside from the evidence in the trailer (it's there if you look beyond the explosions), the creators are keen to assure us Beyond will be everything the fans want it to be...
Fun AND Philosophical!
Let's just get this straight: you can't reduce Star Trek to just one adjective. The franchise stretches over almost 50 years, and in that time there have been many interpretations. The Original Series was an adventurous romp, The Next Generation was thought provoking, Deep Space Nine was a slow burner of social issues, Voyager pushed the boundaries of exploration, and Enterprise added some backstory. The films, again, were their own entity.
No matter which iteration you personally prefer, you can't deny it's difficult to condense Star Trek, but it does have its core values, put forth by Gene Roddenberry's vision.
"Star Trek was an attempt to say humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day it begins to not just tolerate but take special delight in differences of ideas and differences in lifeforms. If we cannot learn to actually enjoy 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
Ultimately, Star Trek was meant to be an optimistic vision of our future, as long as we sorted out some of our darker impulses. Of course, the supposedly utopian Federation was not always portrayed as infallible, and it looks like Beyond is going to examine the downside of the Enterprise's mission of exploration.
The Federation is, for all intents and purposes, a post-scarcity socialist utopia.
Earth does not have a capitalist economy based structure any more: after World War Three ravaged the planet, humans managed to establish First Contact with the Vulcans, and adopted some Vulcan philosophy. This is all well and good, but as director Justin Lin commented to BirthMoviesDeath, sometimes Starfleet's mission of exploration can come off as an attempt to convert more primitive parts of the galaxy to the Federation's way of life.
"What would happen if you go on a five year journey and you’re trying to not only explore but also maybe introduce other people to your way of thinking? What would that mean? What are the consequences of that? You’re spreading a philosophy that you think is great - are there going to be any philosophies that counter you? That was something I thought about since I was a kid, and we got to explore that." - Justin Lin
Of course, the Prime Directive prevents Starfleet from interfering with cultures who have not developed space travel, and we all know how often they stick to that rule...
There's no denying that Starfleet strikes out with good intentions. But sometimes the best stories in Star Trek examine what happens when they slip up. Thanks to this line from the trailer, it seems like Beyond's main villain (played by Idris Elba) is ready to challenge the Federation's philosophy.
"This is where the frontier pushes back!"
But it's not all ethical quandries and post-colonial commentary. Simon Pegg is also ready to assure us that Beyond will tackle other things too...
Character Development & Adventure
We all love Simon Pegg. He's one of those movie making people who's actually a nerd for movies, and Hollywood always needs more of those. So when it was announced that Pegg would be writing the Beyond script as well as starring as Scotty in the film, many fans were delighted. Pegg is also known for speaking his mind, and his response to the Beyond trailer is nothing short of hopeful when we consider the plot of the movie...
"I didn’t love it because I know there’s a lot more to the film. There’s a lot more story and a lot more character stuff, and a lot more what I would call Star Trek stuff. But you know, they’ve got to bring a big audience in. They’ve got to bang the drum. To the Star Trek fans, I’d say be patient."
Fantastic! It's good to know we'll be getting some character development too. But even with the explosions and the action sequences, Beyond looks like an Original Series episode dialled up to about 120%. And personally, I couldn't be more delighted.
What did you think of the trailer? Let us know in the comments, or write your own post!
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