Star Trek: Beyond Struggle

Star Trek Beyond, like its two reboot predecessors, is excellent. Go see it. 

However, let’s take a moment to talk about Star Trek’s legacy and the first reboot in 2009 by director J. J. Abrams. That movie, like most of Abrams’s work, was fun, energetic, and well crafted but, also like most of his work—and unlike the Star Trek franchise as a whole—wasn’t heavy in terms of wit. To be sure, Abrams consistently makes beautiful and functional films, yet ideas are never his strong suit—and that is pity given Star Trek has, since 1966, been about ideas.

That is partly why this latest installment was so good: the movie was smart. Star Trek Beyond not only capitalizes on the wit of Simon Pegg, but it also creatively explores the possibilities of science-fiction and proffers the ideals that have been continuously juggled by the Star Trek franchise. (This wit is particularly surprising since the director, Justin Lin, also made two Fast and Furious installments.) Pushed out to centerstage in this movie are the themes unity and progress. It is for these ideals that the USS Enterprise must fight.

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I watched Good Will Hunting a long time ago, but Lauren had never seen it, so I had a chance to watch the 90s masterpiece again. It’s even better than I remember. The soundtrack is uncanny, seemingly taken out of time and perfectly capturing the tone of the film. Yet, the real power of this movie is in its humanity. Few movies can accurately depict one theme of the human experience, yet Good Will Hunting gets the gamut. It deals with vicarious living, fear of risk, utilizing natural talent, the value of experience over knowledge, defying our stage in life, destiny, and defense mechanisms.

Pop psychology has made most of us familiar with defense mechanisms. If you are not familiar, however, the key to defense mechanisms is that they are subconscious. In Good Will Hunting, Sean (Robin Williams) must forcefully make Will aware of his internal defenses, because Will’s unaware of what he is doing.

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The Republican National Convention was held this last week. On a production level, there was a lot that went wrong, but that’s not what I’m concerned with. I think the more pressing issue was the obvious demonstration by the party of defense mechanisms.

These mechanisms manifested partially in gaudiness and primarily in hate. When faced with struggles and fears, the party—like everyone else in the world—subconsciously tries to deflect these problems by spewing anger, by putting blame on outsiders, and by hate. That makes sense. I’d likely do the same if I perceived my convictions being challenged or my way of life slipping. The defense mechanisms seem natural.

Yet Star Trek told us we don’t have to do what’s natural. Naturally we may desire struggle or naturally we may hate (or naturally we may invite the president of the UFC to speak at our convention), but instead we must pursue progress and unity—we must continuously try to be better and move towards peace.

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