Why Star Trek Beyond May Be A Humongous Disaster

The 2009 Star Trek movie successfully rebooted the beleaguered science fiction franchise, with director J.J. Abrams injecting an appropriate level of nostalgia into an intriguing time-travel storyline. 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness was ... not as well-received, as original ideas took a backseat to blatant fan service. So can we expect with the upcoming threequel, Star Trek Beyond? There are certainly reasons to be hopeful—most notably, Simon Pegg (who also plays the Enterprise's chief engineer, Scotty) wrote the screenplay, as Hollywood has seemingly set the one-time writing duo Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci—who wrote the previous two films—adrift after the debacle that was The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Nevertheless, there is still room for skepticism about Beyond. The first teaser jarringly blaring "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys is just one of them. Here are a few other reasons why Star Trek Beyond might just be a disaster in the making.

The same old (uninteresting) cast

After two movies, it's appropriate for us to make some judgments about the cast of the rebooted series. Karl Urban and Simon Pegg are both great in their respective roles as Dr. McCoy and Scotty. We're still not sold on Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock, however. In the previous two films, Pine's portrayal of Kirk as an immature flyboy with daddy issues made him unsympathetic, while Quinto's Spock always seems like he is about 30 seconds away from going postal with a phaser. Will these two leads give us something different in Beyond, or will it be more of the same?

The wrong director with the wrong vision

After two Star Trek movies, J.J. Abrams jumped ship to Disney to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens, handing over directing reins to Justin Lin for Beyond. Lin is best known for directing the Fast & The Furious movies, parts 3-6. He's certainly a capable director, but we're not convinced Lin is the right man for the job. After two, big-budget action spectacles, we hoped Beyond would be a more contemplative affair, along the lines of the television series and earlier movies. But Lin's work isn't exactly known for its well-honed characterization or subtlety. The fact that the newest trailer for Beyond so prominently advertises that Lin helmed Fast & The Furious leads us to believe that Paramount, once again, is running away from Star Trek's intellectual roots in favor of making it yet another summer popcorn flick.

And speaking of Fast and the Furious: Starfleet Drift, why is Kirk riding a motorcycle in the new trailer? Can this be more out of place in Star Trek, much less any science fiction movie set in outer space? Maybe Vin Diesel and The Rock will show up, and they and Kirk can race. The winner gets to be the next captain of the Enterprise.

The script doesn't sound very Star Trek-like at all

Our praise for Simon Pegg notwithstanding, his comments from a 2015

article

in The Guardian gives us pause. In it, Pegg states that Paramount asked him to make Beyond "more inclusive." We read this as Pegg's classy way of saying that Paramount forced him to dumb down the script. Here's another Guardian quote from Pegg, about Star Trek: "People don't see it being a fun, brightly coloured, Saturday night entertainment like the Avengers," adding that the solution was to "make a western or a thriller or a heist movie, then populate that with Star Trek characters so it's more inclusive to an audience that might be a little bit reticent." Do we really want a thriller/western/heist movie, only with Star Trek characters? It sounds like the story of Star Trek Beyond may be extremely formulaic.

The characterization is just so incredibly tired

"My dad joined Starfleet because he believed in it ... I joined on a dare," says Kirk (Chris Pine) at the opening of the new trailer. Someone, likely Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) replies, "You joined to see if you could live up to him. You spent all this time trying to be your father. Now you are wondering just what it means to be you." Yawn. Is this the sort of trite dialogue we can expect from the rest of the movie? If so, is there a way to mute sound in a theater? Didn't Kirk deal with trying to live up to his father in the first movie? Is it too much to ask for characterization beyond his daddy issues?

The destruction of the U.S.S. Enterprise that nobody asked for

In the trailer, we see the U.S.S. Enterprise destroyed—or at least severely damaged—by what looks like the

seeker swarms

from Mass Effect 2, which forces the crew to abandon ship. The trailer indicates that most of the movie's action plays out on some sort of uncharted planet. Doesn't this all feel a bit premature? Watching the Enterprise blow up in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock had emotional resonance because it's the ship we all knew and loved from both the original series and the previous movies. It was basically like watching a beloved character die. Will the audience feel the same way with this Enterprise? You know, the one with the IKEA showroom as the bridge? If Paramount wants to go this route, it seems more appropriate for a later movie. We'd much rather see the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise working together on the ship to thwart some intergalactic evil.