It’s a tough time to be a Trekkie. The last new episode of Star Trek Enterprise aired over ten years ago. J. J. Abrams was poised to reinvigorate the franchise after the success of 2009’s Star Trek, but he's since jumped ship to direct Star Wars instead. Will Star Trek Beyond help the classic series' fortunes?
We won’t know for sure, of course, until the movie premieres in July 2016. But the first trailer, released this morning by Paramount Pictures, is troubling to me. Take a look:
First off, it’s a relief to see Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine return to reprise their roles as Spock and Kirk. They carried the previous two movies even when the plot swerved into absurdity. Quinto’s carefully manicured eyebrows might be worth the cost of admission all by themselves.
Aside from the returning cast, it’s hard to find much else to be excited about. The movie looks like a big, noisy spectacle, full of swarms of alien ships, menacing villains, and alien babes. Paramount turned to Justin Lin, of Fast and Furious fame, to direct the latest installment, and it looks like they got what they paid for: explosions, fighting, and a Beastie Boys soundtrack.
I shouldn’t be too negative. It might make for a decent summer blockbuster. Audiences love big sci-fi extravaganzas, and theaters love selling tickets for those films. Still, the Beyond trailer just doesn’t feel like Star Trek to me. The franchise has had its share of spectacle over the years—its universe is a dangerous one, full of violence, war, and shadowy threats—but it's always focused more on story and character than on heart-pumping thrills. Jean-Luc Picard wasn’t an action hero, and he didn’t have to be.
This trailer is only our first look at the movie, though, so I reserve the right to be hopeful. Trailers tend to be filled with the most sensational moments of a film. Perhaps we’ll find some humanity and narrative between the explosions in the final product.