Star Trek Beyond was great, so why is no one seeing it?


Star Trek Beyond is the best film we’ve seen from the series in almost 20 years. It’s picked up countless positive reviews and fan acclaim, but it doesn’t have any traction. No one’s talking about it. No one’s digging into the philosophical meat, and several weeks out, box office numbers for the sci-fi flick are pretty rough. What the hell happened?

It’s simple — Star Trek Beyond took the franchise back to its political, utopian roots and nobody wants that kind of movie anymore.

On first pass, that seems like an odd thing to say. I’m basically claiming the Beyond is too Star Trek for people to put down money to go see it — but that’s exactly it. Broadly speaking, Abrams’ Star Trek movies have enjoyed solid ticket sales and public acclaim. But for diehard Trekkers like yours truly, they just didn’t scratch that itch. They got the character’s (mostly) right. They gave the series a retro-future, chrome spitshine. But then Abrams and his team took the series in a dark direction.

Star Trek (2009) is about mass extinction — first of the Romulans, then the Vulcans. Into Darkness is about adapting to terrorism with militarism. In many ways each film dealt with salient political issues (hell, balancing security and liberty in our highly connected era is still an important topic), but they did so in clumsy, cynical ways.

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