Justin Lin intended to deconstruct the Star Trek franchise with Star Trek: Beyond, but he ended up tearing down so much what fans loved about it.
The film franchise for Star Trek is in flux at the moment but it shouldn’t be, not with how successful Star Trek 2009 was. So why did Star Trek: Beyond fail and halt the entire franchise with it? While researching for a different topic, an article from the Verge’s Bryan Bishop popped and framed Star Trek: Beyond into a completely different experience. This article that popped up was from 2016 and featured an interview with Beyond’s director, Justin Lin, and series actor and writer Simon Pegg discussing how they collaborated on the film. In the interview, the duo talks about the writing process for Beyond. At the time it was just the typical “ugh we hated each other but it made us better!” type of jargon, but now, four-plus years later and with the film franchise hanging in the balance, the interview takes a completely different tonal shift.
“It would be great if we can somehow come up with a journey for these characters to deconstruct Trek, to deconstruct a lot of the ideals of the Federation. By doing that, maybe by the end, we can reaffirm why there is so much passion and so much love for this franchise.” – Beyond Director Justin Lin
Hearing Lin wants to “deconstruct” the film franchise is haunting. Considering the fact that Beyond killed the Star Trek film franchise over at ViacomCBS, yeah, it’s safe to say Lin sure tore it all apart. He deconstructed Trek to the point no casual fan wants another film. Good job. Lin even goes on to describe how his ideas kept making Pegg angry, with – as Bishop writes – a laugh.
“Simon was like, ‘You can’t destroy the Enterprise and you can’t do it in the end of the first act. It has to be the end of the movie!’ That was our first meeting. We walked out and I think all of us were like, ‘I don’t want to work on this movie. What’s going on?'” – Beyond Director Justin Lin.
Pegg tried to smile while recounting the story to The Verge, going on to say he and Lin talked at the SoHo Hotel for 16 hours and got nowhere on the script. Pegg even wanted to make it more like an episode of the original series, something that Beyond was clearly anything but.
“When we spoke about [writing Beyond], it was, ‘Let’s make it as if an episode of the original series had been injected with gamma radiation. The crew happen upon a mysterious planet. They’re on the surface. They meet an adversary. They learn a lesson. It’s what the original series episodes were constituted by, but with the trappings of a gigantic, summer blockbuster. Which is what the movies always were, really.” – Beyond Writer and Actor Simon Pegg.
The only lesson that was learned came from Pegg, who ended up hating the writing experience. Pegg admitted in a different interview to quitting three times while working with Lin. “I quit like three times, I think. Every time, J. J. Abrams said, ‘Oh come on, Simon.” Pegg knew well into the creation of the film that it wasn’t going to be good.
“Funny, I remember there was a line in Spaced about certainty. I said, ‘As sure as eggs is eggs, as sure as day follows night, as sure as every odd-numbered Star Trek movie is shit …’ – and I am now writing Star Trek 13 (Beyond). I think I would have been apoplectic with the irony of it all, you know.” – Beyond Writer and Actor Simon Pegg.
If Pegg’s words don’t land with you, realize what Lin wanted as the big “reveal”. Everything the film built to, the destruction of the ship, the revelation about Krall’s true identity, everything else the film had in it, was all designed to set up to the big reveal of…the Beastie Boys’ song Sabotage.
“I was really angry about that. [The trailer] used ‘Sabotage,’ which was our surprise moment in the end. It was supposed to be a very fun and heightened twist, and something that was a big surprise and they blew it in the first trailer, which really annoyed me.” – Beyond Writer and Actor Simon Pegg.
An entire movie that was meant to “deconstruct” Star Trek and the Federation, was built around a Beastie Boys’ song. Gee, I wonder why a fourth Star Trek film can’t get off the ground?
By all accounts, Lin and J.J. Abrams are to blame for the travesty that Beyond was. While there are parts in the new Star Trek films that are great, it’s hard to argue that Beyond isn’t just a bad Trek film, but a bad film all over. Taking out the fact that it wasn’t a Star Trek film as much as it was a Fast and Furious film in space with all the motorcycles, big crashes, and huge explosions; the plot is just awful.
The whole story featured a missing Starfleet crew, hell-bent on waging war against the aliens that Starfleet befriended by becoming aliens. To wage their war, the villain needs a space virus. That space virus was held by tiny aliens to start the film and then it somehow ended up on the Enterprise. A fact Krall would never know, yet he still attacks the ship for the virus. A virus he doesn’t know is on the ship. All while controlling a swarm of ships that could destroy a ship in seconds; a much more powerful tool than a virus.