This is something of a nothingburger movie. Originally titled Teleios, at some point after a few film festival showings and before it was released to DVD, the title was changed to Beyond the Trek to take advantage of the release of Star Trek Beyond. This flick even uses a title font similar to Star Trek’s, all to chase that sweet mockbuster cash. But, this isn’t a mockbuster. Rather, Beyond the Trek is a magnum opus from writer/director Ian Truitner. It’s a film with profound depth in its ideas, and about a nickel’s worth of budget to bring those ideas to fruition.
It’s the future! 2048, according to the expository intertitles at the film’s start. According to this film’s mythos, genetically-enhanced fetuses became commercially available in 2020. Now, in 2048, some spaceship crews consist of nothing but these enhanced people. They are all smart, driven, void of emotion, and hot. They’re also quite contemptuous of us normies. But, hey, they’re the ones locked in spaceships millions of miles from home.
The film follows a crew of these next generation humans as they are sent to Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. There, a mining vessel has been set adrift, and all contact with the crew lost. The vessel is carrying a very important cargo — a carbon catalyst that has the potential to reverse the effects of global warming.
Upon arrival, the would-be rescuers find that the all of the crew, with the exception of one man, O’Neill (Weetus Cren), and a maintenance android, Lulu (Ursula Mills), are no longer aboard the ship. O’Neill is also uncommunicative, unwilling or unable to tell the new arrivals what has occurred.
The dour commander of the rescue mission, Linden (Lance Broadway), assigns his second-in-command, Iris (Sunny Mabrey) to interrogate O’Neill, because she once got a doctorate in psychology on a lark. She delves into the mystery of O’Neill and the missing ship’s crew, while the others try and find out what happened to the cargo. To make matters worse for them, their genetically-enhanced perfection is showing cracks, manifesting as emotional behavior and lapses in memory. It’s unsettling for these characters who have spent a lifetime in total control.
Truitner provides a satisfying, yet predictable, end to the travails of his characters. Along the way, unfortunately, not much happens. That doesn’t appear to be the result of a lack of imagination. As I wrote above, the ideas behind the film have depth. But, without the resources to expand on those ideas, viewers are left with a very talky film that takes place inside a generic and repetitive sci-fi setting. The few views we get outside the interior of the spaceship are made up of bargain CGI, circa 2017. That makes it better than television CGI from the 1990s, but that’s not a high bar.
The dialogue is pretty dry through much of the movie, as well. That does fit in with the previously emotionless nature of the characters. When the cast was tasked with showing emotion, that’s when their talent began to run out. Again, more resources would have meant a better cast. That said, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, as Doctor Orson, was almost believable, while Cren was the right amount of mysterious and menacing. This film being so talky, however, a large, probably unfair, burden was placed on the cast, and they weren’t up to the challenge.
This is a film whose impact is fading with every word I write of this review. It’s generic, cheap, and very forgettable. It takes a big hit in watchability with its stubborn lack of forward motion, but stays out of the bottom of the Index on the strength of its ideas. Those were good enough that I managed to stay engaged with the film through to the end. But, there was…uh-oh. It’s almost all gone. Before I forget I watched this picture completely, it slots into the Index at #252, displacing Monster from Green Hell. Look for cheap sci-fi jollies elsewhere.