Despite being supported by a blindingly charismatic cast and some of the best action directors in the business, Paramount’s Star Trek franchise has somewhat been an exercise in diminishing returns after 2009’s big screen reboot. Last year’s Star Trek Beyond may have captured some of the fun of a standalone episode of the series, but it was a surprising disappointment with audiences: the film’s $158 million gross was nearly $100 million less than the first entry in the series and failed to break even on the studios $185 million investment. Those are the kind of numbers that make a studio think long and hard about investing in a sequel.
Showbiz is weird sometimes: director Justin Kelly premiered his first feature-length film I Am Michael at Sundance in January 2015, where James Franco earned scattered praise for his performance as real-life “ex-gay” Michael Glatze. Instead of sitting on his hands and waiting for the film to land a distribution deal, Kelly went right ahead and commenced work on his second feature, the gay porn saga King Cobra, which premiered at Tribeca back in the spring of 2016. “James Franco in a movie about gay porn” proved to be a more hooky angle, and the film was shown in theaters across America this past fall. That bump to Kelly’s profile enabled him to finally land distribution for I Am Michael, the trailer for which surfaced yesterday in advance of its release on January 27. Both debut and not, Kelly’s first film will be his second release. Just a fun film-industry fact.
In the midst of a dreary summer for blockbusters, Star Trek Beyond was a light in the darkness, returning the rebooted franchise to the fun, funny, and exciting roots of its 2009 predecessor. But even a cast as professional and talented as this one made plenty of mistakes, the best of which are preserved forever in the newly released Star Trek Beyond blooper reel.
Oddly enough, Daniel Radcliffe has proven to be an indie film powerhouse since the Harry Potter films ended. And what a year he’s had: along with a role as a tech genius in Now You See Me 2, he’s played a farting corpse in Swiss Army Man that taught us the nature of being human, and an FBI agent who infiltrates a Neo-Nazi organization in Imperium. Now he’s signed on with Zachary Quinto for a movie about Anonymous and the Mexican cartel Los Zetas.
It’s been a while since the crew of the Starship Enterprise visited a strange new world in search of new life and civilizations. The Star Trek of television was full of strange new worlds; the Enterprise seemed to discover one every single week. The Trek movies, so focused on special effects, violence, and intricate revenge plots, have frequently strayed from Trek’s original mission. And while there’s plenty of action and excitement in Star Trek Beyond, there’s also a clear attempt to return this series to its core principles: Exploration, diplomacy, teamwork, and the hope for a better tomorrow. After the missteps of the punishingly bleak and the unfortunately rehashy Star Trek Into Darkness, it’s a necessary and welcome course correction; a Star Trek back into the light.
This week brought some great news for the future of diversity in Hollywood. John Cho announced his ‘Star Trek Beyond’ character, Hikaru Sulu, would be revealed as gay in the upcoming movie. But sadly not everyone was thrilled about it.
It is interesting that, given a reboot could theoretically go off in any direction it chooses, that the relaunched Star Trek has begun to repeat events from the first Star Trek movie series. Star Trek Into Darkness was essentially a revisitation of The Wrath of Khan; the movie not only reintroduced the title character, it also flip-flopped the famous end of Wrath of Khan where Spock dies saving the Enterprise. (This time around it was Captain Kirk who made the ultimate sacrifice ... for about 8 minutes, and then he got better.) Certainly the circumstances of the film are very different, but Star Trek Beyond shares one crucial ingredient with Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, namely the destruction of the Starship Enterprise, and the shipwrecking of its crew on a distant alien planet.
Yes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally opens in theaters this Friday, and we know you’re all excited. But, if you’re excited for J.J. Abrams’ other space franchise, we have good news for you: the first trailer for Star Trek Beyond has arrived.