Star Trek

Peter Suderman on How Star Trek Beyond Returns to Big Ideas


Star Trek Beyond / Paramount

I rather liked Star Trek Beyond. It's the first of the Trek reboots that feels like a true heir to the original Star Trek. 

At Vox, I look at how the new movie echoes some of the ideas about values about cultural conflict from the original series. Here's a sample: 

There's a lot to like about Star Trek Beyond — the stellar cast, all of whom have grown into their roles since the franchise rebooted in 2009; the exuberantly staged action scenes from first-time Trek director Justin Lin, who previously rebooted the Fast and the Furiousfranchise so effectively; the effortless way the script, by Simon Pegg andDoug Jung, balances character, comedy, and conflict.

But as a longtime fan of the StarTrek series, what I appreciated most about the new film was that it represented a return of sorts to the big ideas that drove the series in its earliest incarnations.

It's the first Star Trek movie since that 2009 reboot that actually feels likeStar Trek.

Read the whole thing

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  1. At Vox

    It’s a good fit.

  2. Who would have guessed that Peter Suderman is a fan of the proggie wet dream that is Star Trek?

    1. Indeed who could possibly be a Star Trek fan who isn’t also a worthless proggie? This is why Star Wars is superior.

      1. My anecdote of being both an out loud and proud communist, and a fan of Star Trek, proves the point.

      2. I find Trek useful to examine my thoughts on various subjects, usually by knowing that I disagree with the writers, and discerning just why.

  3. To the last, I grapple with Suderman.

    Unless the story involves Pine as Kirk strolling into a civilization controlled by computer and proceeding to destroy said computer with just his awesome orations, then this is nothing like the original Star Trek.

    1. I rewatched Into Darkness the other night. It’s barely tolerable. And I seriously don’t get the Quinto as Spock casting. Sure he looks like him, but his mannerisms and speech are very effeminate. Spock was a top dammit.

      1. Into Darkness doesn’t make any sort of sense, I mean it hurts the brain to think about the plot. I thoroughly enjoyed the rebooted Star Trek but will not see the new one in theaters because of how bad Into Darkness was.

        1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a perfectly scripted, paced and acted movie. To sully it with Into Darkness was the final insult.

          1. Yes

            +1 Montalban

          2. Into Darkness basically affirmed every JJ Abrams critic ever.

            1. It was Star Wars for me. I thought, hey he actually claims to like Star Wars, maybe he won’t shit all over this one. A rare instance of me being naive.

        2. I agree. I liked the 2009 movie (though it took a lot to look past the original timeline Spock, Kirk and Montgomery Scott all meeting up within a few miles of each other, on the same planet, somewhere between Vulcan and Earth).

          But with Into Darkness there are some real holes:
          So the Federation can launch torpedoes that can devastate large areas on the Klingon home world, from Federation space and get there in seconds? Transwarp beaming can beam someone from Earth to Qo’noS?
          And the Enterprise is a ship of discovery and peace. But anything bigger is a ship only for war? Oh and hand held communicators can transmit from Q’onoS to Earth as well? And it takes what a couple hours to get from Earth to Q’onoS at usual warp speed???

        3. The new one is better than Into Darkness. I liked it, and I’m one who hates the idea of the wholesale destruction of the canon wrought by the reboot.

      2. Yep. The only decent things about it were Robocop playing the hardass admiral, and the hot blonde chick being almost naked for a couple of seconds.

        1. Wasn’t that Under Siege?


  5. I always thought that the original Star Trek was supposed to be like The Twilight Zone in space.

    1. More like cowboys in space

  6. The last time Suderman experienced pon farr, McArdle didn’t even notice.

    1. Clap, clap.

  7. At Vox . . . Read the whole thing.

    Paging Barfman.

  8. Star Trek movies have never been about ideas. That’s what the TV series are for. Star Trek movies have always been about spectacle and action and fan service. The closest the movies have ever gotten to grappling with an idea is “uh don’t kill all the whales and also nuclear wessels.”

    1. good point.

    2. Insurrection had a sort of “noble savage” thing going.

      1. Insurrection is what you get when you try to make a Star Trek movie about ideas.

    3. So you read Moby Dick in comic form as well?

  9. Writing at Vox? You’re dead to me.

  10. There’s got to be a Trump angle in here somewhere.

    1. I think the link leading to the Vox website made the point abundantly clear.

    2. “We’re going to build a Neutral Zone, and the Romulans are going to pay for it.”

      1. And the Neutral Zone doesn’t even act like a neutral zone. It’s apparently the defacto territory of the the other side, since the freely short at any Fed ship that enters, while the Feds don’t. The Neutral Zone should be like the Korea DMZ, with photon mines all over the place.

  11. Star Trek Beyond had a big idea, and squandered it. Krall could have been trying to stop the expansion of the Federation because he was an anti-Federation native who didn’t want them in his neighborhood. instead they gave him a stupid revenge backstory that made no sense.

    But the movie was pretty good compared to most. And they actually introduced some new tech, unlike the unchanging frozen in time tech Star Trek had for a couple of centuries. The swarm bots attacking the Enterprise were a great concept, as well as the hologram camouflage and duplication tech Jayla used. Hard to believe a few million people lived in the middle of nowhere on the Yorktown base, but I guess people choose to live in Oklahoma City in real life.

  12. At Vox, I look at how the new movie echoes some of the ideas about values about cultural conflict from the original series.

    I guess the 50,000 Trump articles Suderman wrote over the last 12 months are finally paying dividends.

  13. “I rather liked Star Trek Beyond. It’s the first of the Trek reboots that feels like a true heir to the original Star Trek.”

    Yes, I thought it was boring too.

    1. zing

  14. Sure he looks like him, but his mannerisms and speech are very effeminate. Spock was a top dammit.

    Whatever Spock was, he wasn’t “conflicted” about it.

  15. Ok, Suderman, but I’m not reading some bullshit at Vox. Could you just go ahead and come out of the closet as a technocratic prog already?

    1. Why should he when there are plenty of commentators such as yourself who do so regularly?

    2. No shit. Goddamn out of control capitalist Ferengi.

  16. There’s got to be a Trump angle in here somewhere.

    In space, no one can hear you TRUUUUMP.

  17. Let’s not miss the point of cultural conflict in the original Star Trek. That was actually an aspect of the larger theme–that the future would be much better than today.

    The irony was that we watched the Federation battle with Klingons and Romulans even while their present day counterparts in real life–the Russians, the Japanese, African-Americans, et. al.–were sitting all together on the bridge. It wasn’t just that black woman could be an important part of the crew; Chekhov was a Russian and Sulu was Japanese. We’d defeated the Japanese only twenty years before. The Russians were still our enemies.

    The heart of that series was the optimism and irony. The problems of today were already overcome in the series, and we were facing new demons like the old ones–so we’d overcome them, too.

    “To boldly go where no one has gone before” was to go into the future with optimism.

    The reason Start Trek doesn’t really resonate today with younger audiences is because being optimistic about the future is now evil. The earth will be destroyed by global warming and human greed, and the only way to stop it is to sacrifice our standard of living. To imagine a bright future is to undermine the reality of our predicament to naysayers–and that can’t be done with a clear conscience.

    Star Trek is now a utopian dream in a moral universe that craves a dystopian reality. It’s a rainbow in the dark.

    It’s just an action movie.

    1. +1 Ronnie James Dio.

      1. Is he still dead?

        1. Not according to Lou Reed.

        2. Yes, but Rainbow in the Dark will never die

    2. Not a bad point, Ken. Much of young adult fiction these days focuses on young heroes overcoming dystopian societies. Maybe it’s tied to the need to have something to struggle against that appears to be a major theme with youths these days.

      1. Dystopian futures have been a thing since, at least, 1984 and more likely since 1984.

        1. Hell, Zamyatin’s We in the 1920s is probably the start.

    3. If kids these days aren’t as optimistic as their parents were, I blame the parents.

    4. Ken, the history in the Trek universe leading up to Starfleet et al was full of dystopia. There was a planet-wide whose ruins were still smoldering when Zefram Cochrane discovered and implemented warp drive.

      Somehow, that single discovery ushered in the end of scarcity and caused utopia to happen.

      1. That’s the funniest thing about the Trek universe to me. Roddenberry imagined a near-future where nuclear war was inevitable and his society would only emerge after decades of warfare and poverty. Instead, the Soviet Union collapsed, no World War 3, no Eugenics Wars in the 1990s, and we’re still rolling in prosperity and decadence.

        1. Oops, I meant to say “planet-wide WAR whose ruins…”, but it looks like you figured that out.

          People then and now love to imagine a huge calamity that threatens human survival. Roddenberry imagined a utopian society emerging from this where today most imagine dystopia, think Hunger Games or the Divergent series.

    5. The Star Trek “model” of intelligent, tolerant, and diverse people solving problems without much internal conflict (thanks to society being post-scarcity) is what makes Star Trek what it is. It wasn’t part of a wave of optimism in screen fiction (that I know of).

      As a fan since birth I am about ready for the whole thing to be retired, as people in rubber foreheads just isn’t sophisticated enough for screen sci-fi anymore. I would not mind, however, a new take on an optimistic space future that looked more like the BSG reboot.

    6. ^Very much this.

      Also, Trek had a lot of “yesterday’s enemy becoming tomorrow’s friend”. Worf and Seven of Nine being examples. Actually, you could add Data, since artilects in TOS were always villains.

      1. That “this” was for Ken Schultz 7.26.16 @ 1:34PM.

  18. Could you just go ahead and come out of the closet as a technocratic prog already?

    Peter’s just your basic “Do Something” libertarian. You know- Doing Great Things Via Serrious Governance libertarianism. It’s all the rage.

  19. I did like the uniforms in Beyond, though.

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  21. Let me be clear on this: Suderman can only make money writing for people I approve of.

    1. And only about subjects that I agree with!

    2. I mean how can I even dispute his arguments when I refuse to defile my browser by opening a site that publishes things I disagree with?

  22. It is good to see that PMS is finally part of the JournoList hive where he belongs. Suits him a heck of a lot better than the Washington Times, which I’m sure got him no end of grief from his leftard DC buddies back in the day and probably cost him quite a few free drinks to boot.

    1. Come on Mike, you can do better than PMS, can’t you? I mean…you can, can’t you?

      Oh god, what if you can’t? What if that’s literally as clever as you can be? I can’t even imagine how retarded that would make you. How do you even put your pants on in the morning without falling out a window?

  23. So here’s the things.

    ‘almost three years into a five year mission’. Again?

    We’ve already missed much–there was a tribble in Into Darkness, this means that the tribble episode analogue has already happened. There’s no Organian Treaty Zone though. Vaal? Landru? Bela Oxmyx?

    There are so many stories that need to be touched on that clearly weren’t. Should’ve used that montage time to hit a few. to give us a three year depth.

    Yorktown? What the fuck. An indefensible soap bubble in space with Inception gravity just because? Where are the starbases? And let’s put this soap bubble next to this super dangerous uncharted nebula.

    I have no idea what was going on with Idris Elba’s character getting all ‘monstery’. To call that a waste…..

    Prediction–we have the mainline universe, and the mirror universe, and a few ‘pocket’ universes already in Trek. Several ‘branchings’ have happened that have been retroactively nipped off at the source. This ‘Retard Universe’ will eventually join them, with a future Enterprise captain stopping the chain of events that led to it.

    Because, while enjoyable, as one thinks about this movie one starts to hear ‘brain? what is brain?’

    1. What about Harry Mudd?

    2. On the other hand, the “retard universe” invented point defense, which is a point in its favor over the mainline.

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