Star Trek Beyond isn’t doing well at the box office. It’s a crowded summer, but I wouldn’t worry about the series moving forward – although we should also note it’s the lowest grossing franchise entry since Nemesis. Regardless, the series will have lasted 50 years come September and will last another 50. So where does the series go from here?
What I personally loved so much about Star Trek Beyond was how it felt like a big budget episode of The Original Series. The NuTrek finally blended in the original optimistic utopia found in Gene Roddenberry’s original vision with the new age space opera action. Now we need to see more adventures of the crew exploring the galaxy during their five year mission. Don’t get me wrong, Beyond boldly carries the same spirit of adventure and with it another villain hellbent on vengeance.
Krall still stuck within the confines of the last four (seriously, FOUR) villains discussing revenge but at least he is also based in discussing a twisted reversal of the Federation’s attempt at unification.
Furthermore, don’t just use “revenge” as a motivator for a villain. Let us see their descent. And if there are angry, vengeful villains give them a real Trek ending. Don’t just have them punched hard or shot to death. Allow Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise to extend olive branches to the villains. Give antagonists a moment of clarity before allowing vengeance to consume them entirely or better yet, let them sacrifice themselves in a final attempt at redemption.
With the exception of the episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before” I’m not too interested in remixed versions of old Star Trek stories. Come on, a man slowly becomes a god and the crew has to decide whether or not they should kill him before an innocent man becomes too crazy and powerful? Classic Trek conundrum that should have been the basis for Into Darkness. That doesn’t mean characters and specific iconography are off-limits (that would be ridiculous) but don’t give remake Wrath of Khan just because it’s the best Trek movie.
While Krall is one or two rewrites from being a truly great villain, I think it’s time we saw the Borg again. While Khan gets the iconic status as the definitive Trek villain, the Borg make for great villains on a wider scale because of how they are an inverse of everything the Federation stands for. Instead of unifying planets and species through peaceful methods, the Borg forcibly bring together species through assimilation and loss of free will in favor of a hive mind mentality.
Most importantly, not all Trek stories need villains to carry the story. The excellent Star Trek: The Voyage Home understood this and made essentially a two hour hangout movie with characters from the cult science fiction series.
Yes, “the one with the whales” is actually pretty great. There are stakes to get the plot in motion but the film doesn’t resort to unnecessary action to add superficial “tension” to a story where the heroes must travel back in time to save whales. It’s possibly the only other movie that feels like a big budget episode of the series next to Star Trek Beyond.
Up to this point the Kelvin timeline movies parallel specific plot centric adventures that more/less happen in the original six Star Trek films. The first movie reintroduces iconic characters to a wider audience than ever before. The second features Khan (ugh). The third involves the destruction of the Enterprise. With the announcement of Chris Hemsworth returning for the fourth film, it would appear time travel will play a factor in the next adventure.
While Beyond seemed to put a rest to Nu Kirk’s daddy issues, there’s no reason the two can’t pal around for a standalone adventure. Maybe have this version of Kirk’s father be from an alternate timeline where he was the only survivor of the attack on the Kelvin? Then we can just watch these two pal around for a few hours while they try to stop the equivalent of natural disaster but in space. If there needs to be a villain, I’d gladly welcome back Eric Bana in his return to his all-time campy role as Nero in a B-plot role at most. Throw in a few “Fire everything!” announcements times during the second act and we’ve got ourselves a movie. Just don’t tell him Romulus is still around in this timeline. (He saw it happen! Don’t tell him it didn’t happen!)
The only negative to this might mean the rest of the crew is sidelined. The majority of the films suffer from this but after how well Beyond utilized the ensemble, it’ll be difficult to match that. Anton Yelchin will thankfully not be replaced by another actor as J.J. Abrams himself says, “Anton deserves better than that.” To which I agree. Retire the character and bring back Jaylah to become the a new helmsman. It takes a few years to graduate from Starfleet but I’m imagining her finishing in half the time required because she’s just that good. When she’s brought on to the ship, everyone is shocked but she just explains how easy it all was. Comedy ensues.
On a final note, I don’t want to see the Kelvin timeline end. There are still boundless possibilities in both universes and audiences have grown accustomed to the high budget adventures of the Kelvin timeline. So here’s a suggestion: leave the Kelvin timeline for the movies. Continue exploring the original timeline with shows like Bryan Fuller’s upcoming Star Trek Discovery since that universe established the endless story possibilities. We can all have our cake and eat it too. I just want to see the creatives behind the scenes boldly going to earn it. Given how much I loved Star Trek Beyond, I’d say they will.
P.S. More Keenser, please.
Featured Image: Paramount Pictures