The third movie in this universe blasted off last Friday (the 22nd) and reviews have been mostly positive! At first, I was somewhat skeptical of the tone and direction this movie would take but after hearing and reading reviews praising its “Star Trek-y-ness”, I will admit that I am more intrigued to see it. You see, the first trailer ever released for the film was loud and full of action – much like a music video. You never got the sense of “exploration” or “personal conflict” or even “character development”. And only after realizing that the new director, Justin Lin, came from the Fast and the Furious franchise, did everything click. What was to become of this new Star Trek universe? Will fans come to expect action over substance? Will this new film treat these characters with the respect and reverence they so deserve? All these questions ran through my mind while watching the first trailer which left me suspicious at best.
Officially referred to as the “Kelvin Timeline”, this new universe provides its creators the freedom to tweak aspects of the crew – citing that this is an alternate timeline where they are not necessarily bound to what was established on the TV show. This gave the writers the ability to make one of the main bridge crew members, Sulu, a gay man – saying that it was a direct homage to Sulu’s original actor, George Takei who is openly gay. However, George Takei’s official response to the change was somewhat unexpected.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character….. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.” He goes on to say, “This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century… Honor him and create a new character. I urged them. [Lin] left me feeling that that was going to happen.”
Later, George Takei clarified his statements:
“Let me be clear: I am not disappointed that there is a gay character in Star Trek. On the contrary, as I made clear, I am delighted that the Star Trek franchise has addressed this issue, which is truly one of diversity. It is thrilling to know that future generations will not see LGBTs go wholly unrepresented in the Trek universe. On the specific question of Sulu being gay, when I was first approached with the concept, I responded that I hoped instead that Gene Roddenberry’s original characters and their backgrounds would be respected. How exciting it would be instead if a new hero might be created, whose story could be fleshed out from scratch, rather than reinvented. To me, this would have been even more impactful. While I understand that we are in an alternate timeline with the new Trek movies, for me it seemed less than necessary to tinker with an existing character in order to fulfill Gene’s hope of a truly diverse Trek universe. And while I am flattered that the character of Sulu apparently was selected as an homage to me, this was never about me or what I wanted. It was about being true to Gene’s vision and storytelling…..I wish John Cho well in the role I once played, and congratulate Simon Pegg on his daring and groundbreaking storytelling,” Takei wrote. “While I would have gone with the development of a new character in this instance, I do fully understand and appreciate what they are doing — as ever, boldly going where no one has gone before.”
Personally, I can understand both sides of the argument. The writers should be commended for even entertaining the thought of including a gay character into the franchise and George has a point in not wanting to stray from Gene Roddenberry’s vision. (Coming from the position of having originating the character as well as being gay – this holds more merit than most).
Unfortunately, the release of the film does not come without some tragedy. Weeks before, it was discovered that Anton Yelchin, the young actor playing the role of Chekov, had died from a car accident. He was 27. Understandably, both cast and crew have been public in their support and praise of the young man.
In the early hours of Sunday, June 19th, Anton’s body was discovered at his home driveway. The driveway was on a steep incline and it appears that his car had rolled backwards – pinning Anton against a brick mailbox pillar. One speculated cause of the accident places blame on the vehicle itself. His car, a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, was recalled because the shifting mechanism had the potential to cause drivers to unintentionally leave it in the wrong gear. From the recall notice: “Drivers may inadvertently fail to achieve the PARK position before exiting.” So there is a possibility that Anton had thought he had properly parked his car at the top of the incline when in reality, it was in neutral.
With the death of original Spock actor, Leonard Nimoy, it appears that Star Trek Beyond will somehow pay tribute to both actors.
Will you be seeing the movie this weekend?