Sunday, 22 May 2016

Star Trek Beyond - Trailer Review

‘Star Trek’ is 50 years old this year. Think about that for a second and what it means for this latest instalment. This not only has to move the franchise forward but it also has to be a celebration of the series’ long and tumultuous history. While I will agree wholeheartedly that ‘The Original Series’ and ‘The Next Generation’ are classics of television (I never really got into ‘Deep Space Nine’, ‘Voyager’ or ‘Enterprise’ and to be honest nothing I’ve heard so far has convinced me that I’m missing out) as for the films themselves I think out of the ten there are only really four that I would call great films (in case you were wondering then it’s ‘Wrath of Kahn’, ‘The Voyage Home’, ‘First Contact’ and the 2009 ‘Star Trek’). The others range from being fine, to drearily awful to absolutely, unbelievably, insanely terrible (who the hell thought William Shatner was a good choice of director?).

To put it in the best terms I can, ‘Star Trek Beyond’ needs to be to ‘Star Trek’ what ‘Skyfall’ was to James Bond. Is this reflected within the new trailer? Well for me the cornerstone of ‘Star Trek’ and what distinguishes it from other science fiction franchisees is the exploration aspect, whereas ‘Star Wars’ chronicles the battle between good and evil, ‘Star Trek’ attempts to analyse humanity’s place within the universe.

This is something that the trailer alludes to, with some fairly stunning shots of outer space and its vastness. But it also uses that as a way to reflect the personal discovery within its main character, Captain Kirk. Chris Pine still looks to be very competent within the role, he still appears to be very different from Shatner’s incarnation but there is also a strong link between each portrayal.

But as I said, lots of deep questions, sweeping shots of the cosmos and it all feels very Trekkie, all that’s really missing is the classic voiceover “Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, her five year mission, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no one has gone before”. Okay I might have got carried away there.

But then all hell breaks loose. It’s not necessarily a bad thing though because ‘Star Trek’ has always been a little insane when it wants to be, the only query is whether that insanity is keeping in tone with what the movie itself has already established. The idea of the crew stranded on an alien world is a nice call back to other entries in the franchise and based on the trailer it looks like it is supplying all of the classic tropes of the series. We have the encounter with a new alien race, exploration of an unknown landscape, deep thinking conversations between Spock and Bones relating to what is and isn’t “logical”. Simon Pegg was one of the most critical of that first trailer, reassuring fans that it was a very poor representation of the film he had written. He explained that ‘Star Trek Beyond’ should harken back to the roots of the franchise and I can say that the trailer reflects that, I do get the sense that if nothing else this will be a nice call back and homage to the ‘Star Trek’ franchise as a whole.

We also get some nice additions like Idris Elba plastered in makeup, as the main villain of the film (I think by this point that man’s voice can make anything sound bad-ass) who definitely looks intimidating, I’d say it’s up to his motives and complexity that will decide as to whether he will be memorable. There is a distinct lack of humour, with the exception of that last scene, but I’d say that there is probably a lot that we’ve yet to see.

My only major concern is that that trailer never really establishes whether this film is necessary. Does this chapter really advance the story or characters in any way or is it just another adventure that ultimately has no impact. The worry of sticking too closely to the ideologies of the TV series is that each episode was simply new adventure, nothing really carried over from week to week or in the long run. In ten years’ time, will ‘Star Trek Beyond’ be remembered as the film that took the franchise to new heights or just another sequel?  

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