The Star Trek film series, which was rebooted back in 2009 by J.J. Abrams, has had an interesting ride so far. The first film in the modern franchise reinvigorated the property and brought it to a whole new audience, while racking up critical acclaim (including a Best Picture nod from the Producer’s Guild of America). Things were a little different when Star Trek Into Darkness rolled around in 2013; its reliance on callbacks to The Wrath of Khan and fan service dragged it down, and it wasn’t viewed as favorably as its predecessor. Now, the pressure is on this summer’s Star Trek Beyond to celebrate the property’s 50th anniversary and recapture the magic to warrant further followups.
Critically and commercially, both Star Trek and Into Darkness were received just fine, but they proved to be extremely divisive within the passionate Star Trek fan community. In a contrast from the style of the original TV show and films, the reboot was personified more by Star Wars-esque space opera action, stripping away the sci-fi elements that made Star Trek stand out for so many years. With the Beyond creative team promising that the new movie represents the best of the Original Series, the hope is that Star Trek will return to its roots. However, Chris Pine’s latest comments might put a damper on those dreams.
Speaking with the magazine SFX (via Trek Movie), Pine discussed the approach of the latest Trek films and why they’ve skewed in the direction they have, citing the demands of the current marketplace:
“You can’t make a cerebral Star Trek in 2016. It just wouldn’t work in today’s marketplace. You can hide things in there – Star Trek Into Darkness has crazy, really demanding questions and themes, but you have to hide it under the guise of wham-bam explosions and planets blowing up. It’s very, very tricky. The question that our movie poses is ‘Does the Federation mean anything?’ And in a world where everybody’s trying to kill one another all of the time, that’s an important thing. Is working together important? Should we all go our separate ways? Does being united against something mean anything?”
Pine’s quote is sure to send the most fervent Trekkies in an uproar, but he does make a solid point. No studio is going to green light a project in the mold of Star Trek: The Motion Picture nowadays, and there’s probably a lot of pressure from the executives to add in flashy action bits for promotional (read: trailer) purposes. In addition, the previous Trek films have attempted to tackle some serious issues (such as terrorism) and Beyond is going to pose some intriguing inquiries about the relevancy of Starfleet and the Federation. Pine perhaps could have phrased his response differently, as he seems to be saying in the 21st century it’s impossible to make a “thinking man’s blockbuster” that pushes the audience intellectually – which is not true in the post-Inception world.
This will no doubt be frustrating and disappointing for some viewers to hear, but there’s still a strong chance Beyond can be a worthwhile entry into the series canon. The story should operate as a refreshing change-of-pace from the two largely Earth bound stories before, with the Enterprise crew being pushed in new ways by an intimidating antagonist in Krall (Idris Elba) on an alien planet. Even if it still has a tendency to emphasize action, there’s still the potential for compelling substance to compliment the strong style. The film’s second trailer was a marked improvement over the maligned teaser and captured that classic Trek tone.
For their part, Paramount is convinced they have a winner, seeing that they’re already making preparations for a Star Trek 4 with Pine and his co-star Zachary Quinto back on board. In a Hollywood landscape packed to the brim with massive franchises plotted out years in advance, Star Trek has an uphill climb to prove it has a place at the multiplex – giving the narrative of Beyond an intriguing meta angle. It’s true Trek may not be as “cerebral” as it once was, but it’s still capable of entertaining and resonating on an emotional level. If Beyond can accomplish that, this series may live long and prosper after all.
Star Trek Beyond hits theaters July 22, 2016.
Source: SFX Magazine (via Trek Movie)