They’ve Gone Too Far: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

I never thought about reboots as fan fiction, but in a sense that’s exactly what they are: sanctioned and well funded, but fan fiction nonetheless. I think the rash of poorly made reboots is a direct result to fan fiction not being very good. Fan fiction is usually poor because those writing it are not very skilled writers. When it comes to films like Star Trek Beyond the writers should be among the best. They’re being paid enough for Christ’s sake. That doesn’t mean they’re infallible. Their problem is likely due to being too close to the material.

Or maybe the problem lies with the suits looking to cash in on a property they own.

Maybe all of the above.

Whatever the case, Star Trek Beyond has gone too far. It’s pushed the life of the original Star Trek characters well past absurdity. They’re tired. They’ve pushed the boulder up the hill for long enough. I can’t decide if the proper metaphor to describe what is happening is the artificial prolonging of their life or they have become a brain slurping zombies.

Maybe, once again, all of the above.

I had some hope that Star Trek Beyond would start to straighten out the floundering. My faith was in Simon Pegg as co-writer. He’s done some really good stuff, plus he’s a proper geek done good. Yet, like I wrote earlier, because of his background he’s either too close to the material or the suits strong-armed this film in the wrong direction. Star Trek (with the original crew) is so far gone that I doubt anyone could do anything to help at this point.

The most pronounced problem is all the baggage of the original series. It’s like all the legacy code Microsoft has to drudge along with each new version of it’s operating system. This is supposed to be a “new” Star Trek the original series. (See how convoluted that last sentence is? That should have been a warning right there this reboot wasn’t a good idea.) The past was changed to make room for new adventures with our beloved crew: Kirk, Spoke, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, and Scotty. Yet this “new” universe keeps stalling precisely because it can’t handle the weight of all the garbage it’s dragging along.

The original Star Trek was cut short, and that’s a shame. The need to make it right, to have the characters who weren’t given a far shake the chance live on, is understandable. It’s hard to let someone you love go, and we loved us some Star Trek TOS. But there’s something to be said for knowing when to throw in the towel.

The fortitude to make that call is really hard when there is so much on the table.

The justification for the new Star Trek movies can be best summed up by another short lived sci-fi TV series: “We have the technology. [We can make it] better than [it] was before. Better, stronger, faster.” Thing is, all that’s come from this revitalization of Star Trek is window dressing, perfume on a pig. What we got is a Frankensteined hybrid that looks vibrant and young but is crippled and lost.

At times Star Trek Beyond seems to be acutely aware of itself and the franchise’s problems. It almost talks directly to the fans. Both Kirk and Spoke, the two central characters, are questioning just what the hell they are doing. Rightly so. Both come up with the same answer. They would best serve prosperity by leaving the Enterprise. All of this independent of the other. What we’ve seen so far suggests that they’re right. Letting go would be the best thing for everyone.

Go with your first instincts, right?

Maybe. Maybe not. We can debate on the universal truth of that maxim another time. In this case though, the new franchise is only going to make something of itself it boldly goes it’s own way. So far it’s only half-assed it. After three films I doubt it has the courage to do anything on its own. Time to let it go.

Star Trek Beyond had many elements of a fond farewell. While I wish it was saying goodbye to the reboot, in actuality the farewell was the actors who passed this year: Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin. Those scenes were touching. The drink between McCoy and Kirk was supposedly to Kirk’s father. I wondered, “is this really to Kirk’s father?” The whiskey was taken from Chekov’s locker. Sure felt like that drink was to Yelchin. They made a point to mention Ambassador Spoke passing. The whole two Spocks living in the same space time continuum makes for really bad plot holes. Unless, of course, you’re eulogizing the loss of a dear friend. It’s still bad fiction, but forgivable.

It’s time to honor the past and move on. There is an infinite universe in which to explore. It needs to be with a new crew. That’s not likely going to happen. The bean counters, being what they are, will grind this so far into the ground that when Star Trek is finally done what’s left won’t be a grave but a gaping sinkhole that nothing, not even a brain slurping zombie, can scratch its way out of.

A good deal of the blame goes to the fans, myself included. By giving our money to see these film we validate the poor decisions that are obliterating Star Trek. So, I’ll be the first to say farewell. This is the last of the original crew films I’ll see. I miss you, but remember you fondly. Thanks for everything.

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