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Huh. That doesn’t feel like ‘Star Trek’.

On first watch, this trailer bummed me out. Star Trek Beyond feels like “Fast & Furious in Space.” Maybe fans should have expected this—director Justin Lin also helmed four Furious movies. But J.J. Abrams’ Trek reboot already felt too action-heavy for the staid franchise; this trailer doubles down on that approach.

The more I watch the teaser, however, the less its pace bothers me. Remember that the classic Trek films hail from a different filmmaking era—slower, smaller, quieter. Modern, mainstream audiences wouldn’t endure Trek’s glacially-paced naval battles or interminable static effects shots. Replicating that outdated feel could tank the franchise (again). If overemphasizing adventure helps keep Star Trek alive, that’s fine by me.

Plus, even if Trekkies wrinkle their noses at its tone, the trailer offers some encouraging signs. Beyond seems to take place during the Enterprise’s legendary five-year mission. The crew has ventured far from home and finds itself stranded amidst a hostile alien culture. That set-up harkens back to Trek’s episodic TV roots. If the plot is handled well—yes, that’s a big “if”—this movie could be fun.

I do have one beef, though. The trailer shows swarming robots (?) disintegrate the Enterprise; Captain Kirk then laments, “We have no ship!” That could be a red herring—maybe the Enterprise survives the attack. But if it doesn’t, that reveal feels like an unnecessary spoiler. In Star Trek, the ship itself is a character, and you don’t telegraph a character’s demise seven months before the film premieres. By all means, go ahead and wreck the Enterprise, but save that sad plot twist for the theaters.


EDIT: Here’s a Wrath of Khan trailer set to the Beyond trailer’s music (the Beastie Boys).

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movies Uncategorized

Teasing Khan

In 2009, J.J. Abrams successfully rebooted the Star Trek franchise. This was no small task; Trekkies are notoriously picky. The filmmaker took pains to include many details that only true nerds could appreciate.

Several of these fan-pleasing scenes were cut from the final production. For example, William Shatner’s cameo apparently made it into the script but was never shot.[1] Another scene that the filmmakers considered, then decided against, was a post-credits teaser for the inevitable Khan-centric sequel.

Here’s how I imagine that scene playing out:


INT. U.S.S. ENTERPRISE BRIDGE

Close-up of KIRK, slouched confidently in the captain’s chair. OLD SPOCK stands beside him.

OLD SPOCK
Once again, Captain, I am sincerely grateful for…

KIRK waves hand.

KIRK
…Our pleasure, Ambassador. We’ll get you to New Vulcan safe and sound; it’s the least we can do. In fact—

YOUNG SPOCK (concerned edge in voice)
—Captain.

KIRK
What is it, Spock?

YOUNG SPOCK
We’re picking up a vessel off the port bow.

KIRK spins to face YOUNG SPOCK, who is staring into his viewscreen.

KIRK
Out here? What kind of vessel?

YOUNG SPOCK
I… do not know. It is… quite old.

KIRK
On screen.

Cut to shot of crude-looking ship, its hull scarred and pitted. It floats adrift, spinning slowly.

Shot of OLD SPOCK, brow furrowed—as if trying to remember…

KIRK
Life signs?

YOUNG SPOCK
Several dozen humanoids… [looks up, hint of concern in voice] Captain, their signals are quite faint.

Decision made, KIRK springs into action. He flips his chair’s comm switch.

KIRK
Bones! Meet us in the transporter room!

MCCOY (over comm)
On my way.

KIRK leaps up from his chair.

KIRK
Spock, you’re with me. Sulu, you have the conn.

YOUNG SPOCK and SULU
Aye, Captain.

KIRK and YOUNG SPOCK exit via turbolift. Camera follows SULU to command chair, then pans back to OLD SPOCK, who’s looking down, puzzled. Shot hovers on him for a few seconds, then zooms out to include CHEKOV.

CHEKOV
Look!

Close-up of OLD SPOCK as he raises his eyes to the viewscreen. His mouth drops open. Recognition and fear flood his face.

Cut to viewscreen. The unnamed vessel continues its driftless spin. As the ship turns, its name emerges from the shadows. The words are clearly legible: SS BOTANY BAY.

Cut to black.

  1. Somehow, no one has yet to splice together a fan edit of this unshot scene. Get on that, Trek nerds!  ↩