While I’m happy for Star Trek to be getting more attention of late, I’m also worried it’s the wrong kind. For someone to go into Abram’s movies and think this must be how Star Trek is, not only deprives them of what Star Trek really is, but what the movies could’ve been – a means of exploring social issues and complex ideas through the vastness of sci-fi. Beyond is not even a dumbing-down or skeletal version – that would imply something foundational remains intact – but more akin to an entirely different franchise that so happens to share the same name.
Beyond has the blueprints of a stronger story but quickly digresses. Mid-way through its five-year mission, the Enterprise’s captain staves off the directionless boredom that comes with personalities who can’t create their own fun – sounding like one of the more creatively-inclined TV shows, with a higher than normal giggle ratio. My misplaced hopes then crashed when the Enterprise did.
Another cataclysmic event. Another Star Fleet crew to stop it. Another film to play like the rest. This is one of the problems streamlining a series perceived with esoteric niche like Star Trek. Exposing a story to broader appeal invites the risk and criticism of more people, so movies like this, and Star Wars, consequently become worse as their generic solution creates a generic result. Describing the staple plot events almost seems null, as I would be describing a movie you have seen many times, save for the ending. Trotting the line between serious and satirical, the Enterprise beats the enemy with rock music. That’s not even a misconstrusion. They win the movie with loud sounds. I’d be more disappointed at something so bombastically out of place if it wasn’t also the most inspired part.
Beyond has the small consolation of working as an advertisement for sci-fi. Its gloss and flare may convince some through raw entertainment value, but it is little more than a prototype for a genre and series capable of significantly more intelligence. The point of Star Trek is eponymous: exploration, of many kinds. Though, ironically, there hasn’t been much planetary nor ideological exploration. Being indistinctive is no crux when you’re also memorable, but this trilogy of movies, which set out to popularise Star Trek by not being remotely like it, has merely discovered what not to do.