While science fiction often gets a bad rap for being fictional fluff, Star Trek has built a reputation since the 1960s for being a much smarter take on the genre. However, the current Captain Kirk says that the new version of the franchise doesn't have that luxury. According to Chris Pine, the modern movie business simply doesn't allow for a more cerebral Star Trek, at least not overtly.
The more recent Star Trek movies have been criticized to some degree from being a bit more summer movie blockbuster and a little less an examination of the potential of humanity. In a recent interview with SFX magazine, Chris Pine says this shift is intentional, as it's required in order to compete with the rest of the blockbuster movie schedule. To be fair, Pine says that the broader themes are still there, but that they need to be mixed in with things blowing up. As he put it:
You can't make a cerebral Star Trek in 2016. It just wouldn't work in today's marketplace. You can hide things in there -- Star Trek Into Darkness has crazy, really demanding questions and themes, but you have to hide it under the guise of wham-bam explosions and planets blowing up. It's very, very tricky.
Whether or not a cerebral Star Trek would work is a question that we may never truly answer, as it's unlikely that risk will be taken in the current landscape. Still, it's understandable why the belief that it wouldn't work persists. In a world where Transformers movies routinely set box office records, it's an easy enough assumption to make that massive set pieces and explosions are what all fans want. For the most part, it's true. Fans absolutely want that stuff, the only real question is if you can tell a more cerebral story while also including things exploding.
Chris Pine says that the new film, Star Trek Beyond, does still ask important questions. In this case, it's the question of whether the Federation, the Star Trek organization that brings a number of diverse alien races together, is an important enough goal to strive toward. In an era that has seen humanity divided along religious, racial and even gender lines, it's an understandable question to ask, and it's the sort of thing you wouldn't have been surprised to see in an original Star Trek TV episode. The question, however, is if these issues will even be clearly visible in a movie that puts out a trailer that focuses exclusively on action scenes.
Do you think the current iteration of Star Trek is missing its essential essence or is it still asking the right questions, simply in different ways? Let us know what you think in the comments.