Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Star Trek. My dad raised me on it. Every time I come home from college, I always sit down with my dad and watch at least one episode of Star Trek or at the very least discuss it. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is the best captain of any starship, in my opinion. That being said, I've seen the past two Star Trek films. I liked Star Trek '09, and I didn't like Into Darkness as much, but they weren't bad films as a whole. The casting is absolutely perfect (except for Benedict Cumberbatch's "reveal" in Into Darkness in which even movie-goers with a basic knowledge of Trek saw coming) and I love the actors in their roles, but something is missing from the latest trailer for the next Star Trek movie, and it's the reason for why I hate the latest trailer. What is that? It's philosophy.
If you ask any Star Trek fan, they'll tell you one of the reasons they love Star Trek is that it serves for science and the betterment of the human race. That's always a goal behind every episode, every movie, every moment - that this is the future and even in the future we can strive to be better and bigger than ourselves when we go out to explore strange new worlds. This trailer doesn't look anything like that. It looks like a whimsical action/comedy jam-packed with pseudoscientific gadgets, tapping into the market of Guardians of the Galaxy. While Star Trek can have it's incredibly silly moments, it's not just supposed to be "Oh, look! We're traveling through space on a mission and, oh no, we have to fight some evil aliens now while being hilarious and badass." It is fictional, and it is just a movie, but there's more to Star Trek than that.
Let me break down the infamous Star Wars v.s. Star Trek argument to you guys. Star Wars is all about looking cool in space, toss in some moral stories, an archetypal oppressive government and a family drama and you've got it. If there's one thing Star Wars has an advantage over Star Trek, it's how impressive its visuals are. Arguably, the Star Wars films are conventionally better movies than most of Star Trek's. Star Wars is the flash of a blaster bolt, the endless political revolutions, and the distinct colors off the blade of lightsabers as they clash in an epic battle between stereotypical good and evil, Light and Dark. Star Trek instead essentially says, "Hey, what if we tried actually talking about science instead of how cool it looks to be in space?" Not to sound condescending, but Star Trek is arguably the more intellectual side. Instead of wading in its waters, Star Trek is all about dealing with eternal human questions in a probing spirit of curiosity and inquiry.
Let's compare the two most quintessential villains of these series on a script level. Darth Vader is a finely tuned instrument of the Dark Side, but is a more humanly relatable foe who turns evil, while Khan is a born-evil nihilistically and Darwinian product of genetic engineering, convinced of his eugenic superiority. While I tend to side with the Star Trek side, Star Wars has to be given its credit: Darth Vader is a fantastic villain. And so is Khan, but for different reasons. Khan's character is a more Nietzsche-an discussion, while Vader's is much simpler to explain. Fundamentally, that's what makes Star Wars and Star Trek different. Deep philosophy versus fantastic symbolic visuals.
Which is why (as much as I appreciate him) I was horrified to learn that director J.J Abrams wasn't a big fan of Star Trek to begin with. In an interview with Jon Stewart, Abrams likened “Star Wars” to a Western or Samurai movie and suggested that it “never felt like a sci-fi thing.” “Star Trek,” on the other hand, did.
“It always felt too philosophical for me,” he said.
As much as I love what he did with the latest Star Wars, Abrams missed exactly what made me love Star Trek. In fact, most fans really just tolerated Star Trek '09, and Into Darkness was voted as the worst film in the entire canon at a Trek convention in Vegas in 2013, which speaks volumes considering how bad "Nemesis" was. If you listen to Abrams commentary on his '09 reboot, he mentions that he made the film as an homage to Star Wars: A New Hope. This is like a slap in the face. It's like saying, yeah, I know what you like, but here's what I like better. It does suit a director to challenge its fanbase and maybe move towards a more action-packed direction considering it has the funds for decent CGI now, but it shouldn't rely on it in the face of telling a good story.
What Abrams started may mean the end of the Star Trek movies. Even co-author and performer Simon Pegg didn't like the Beyond trailer, but he assures us that there's more to it than just this trailer.
"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,'" Pegg stated.
According to Pegg, the marketing department at Paramount wanted to make a universal trailer, and tap into as many audiences as they could. Pegg wants to assure worried parties that there's more to this film that meets the eye.
While a trailer is not necessarily a good look at a film as a whole, it doesn't look good. Paramount definitely wants something more Guardians-esque, and the helm of the film is now being directed by Justin Lin, known for The Fast & The Furious. The trailer features a Beastie Boys track, motorcycle jumping, and conflict after conflict without much knowledge of the film's actual plot-line.
To make things even more worrisome, the film is due for release in four months and is now being reshot and they're adding a new cast member to the mix. This does not make me worry any less; it only makes things worse.
Hopefully Simon Pegg is being truthful, because I'm tired of the nonsense and want to spend my money on a good Trek film. Because of how things currently look? I'm more willing to side with the Star Wars fandom versus the Star Trek one (even though Abrams is in both) because at least the people working on Star Wars seem to know exactly what Star Wars is. All I know is if Star Trek doesn't deliver this time, I'm done with this current run.