Not Much New in First Star Trek Beyond Trailer

December 14, 2015

Following the leak of a German-language version, Paramount Pictures has released the trailer for its next Star Trek movie, Star Trek Beyond (or, if one follows the order in which the words appear on screen, Beyond Star Trek), scheduled to beam into a theater near you on July 22, 2016.

My immediate reaction? I like McCoy’s response to Spock’s sudden beam-out; it looks like Karl Urban will be turning in another pitch-perfect performance as Bones.

Beyond that moment, not much impresses me about the Star Trek Beyond trailer. Although JJ Abrams is no longer at the helm (having, of course, moved on to his first love, Star Wars), it appears director Justin Lin has fully embraced the breakneck, rock-and-roll style developed for Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).

What isn’t clear is whether the movie will really be going “beyond” anything we’ve seen before. So many beats from the previous films are back:

  • We’ve seen Kirk and company’s Mission Impossible-style stuntwork before. The stunts in this trailer remind me most of young Jim leaping out of a crashing car (also to the accompaniment of the Beastie Boys) and the “space jump” to Nero’s drilling platform in the 2009 movie.
  • We’ve seen last-minute beam-outs before, including characters crashing to the transporter platform (after said “space jump”) as a result.
  • We’ve seen 23rd-century San Francisco and Starfleet Academy under attack before, in both the 2009 and 2013 films.
  • We’ve seen the Enterprise get pounded before, most recently in Into Darkness. If the trailer is to be believed (never a given), the ship won’t survive this expedition—a “first” for the JJ-brand of Trek, but a retread of destroyed Enterprises in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) and Star Trek Generations (1994).

I give the filmmakers credit for designing some visually intriguing aliens (although the male antagonist is more than a little reminiscent of the Remans from 2002’s Star Trek Nemesis). I’ve no doubt the movie will be a technical triumph, like every other Hollywood blockbuster these days.

But the Star Trek Beyond trailer gives me no reason to hope that the filmmakers have learned anything new about what makes Star Trek tick. I suspect we’re in for another two hours of high-octane, fast and furious action that only skims the surface of what “the frontier pushing back” might mean (and that’s not a bad line, I’ll grant).

I’m fully aware I sound like one of those grumpy old fans The Onion skewered when the 2009 film was about to open. So be it. I don’t insist that all Star Trek be as high-minded as possible; I enjoy the franchise’s big action installments (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, 1982; Star Trek: First Contact, 1996); I remain an admirer of the 2009 Star Trek. But if Star Trek is to live long and prosper, the upcoming CBS streaming series will have to bring back big ideas to match.

I suppose, as Spock says, I could “put my hope in the impossible.” But right now, I feel more inclined to agree with Kirk’s last line in this trailer: “Let’s not ever do that again.”

What do you think about the Star Trek Beyond trailer?

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