Beyond the Trek

Teleios is the name of the spaceship in Ian Truitner’s Sci-Fi / horror / thriller film Beyond The Trek. The word teleios comes from ancient greek, meaning “consummated goal.” It’s unclear whether the director intends that to refer to the mission, the crew, the film? Or perhaps it’s just a word that sounds cool.

Like the dying screams of Alderaan, I hear the fanboys and girls raging right off the bat about the title. In this reviewer’s not-so-humble opinion calling your indie space movie anything Trek is arrogant beyond forgiveness. Even the very best fan film of Star Trek doesn’t use the name, it is called Prelude to Axanar. The word Trek is out of bounds if you’re making a science fiction space travel film. You know this. Come on. The title was originally the same as the ship, Teleios. Probably should have stayed with that.  

Where to begin with this film. I’ve been guilty of saying that movies get no “A for effort” but I’m going to bend that rule this time and say this one almost does. It’s an almost good film, it has some brilliant moments. It trades on so many conceits we know, borrowing heavily from Blade Runner, 2010, Aliens, The Expanse, Event Horizon, and about a half dozen Star Trek episodes. The filmmaker knows us, is one of us, and wants to make us comfortable and that works well. However, knowing the writer/director is so conversant with the genre makes the tone-deaf blunder with the title all the more damning. Maybe Truitner didn’t choose it? No true fan would. Was this just a bait and switch grab for attention-span challenged Walmart shoppers?  Like the B movie bargain bin films with titles like Transmorphers (instead of Transformers)? If so, then, damn. 

“Let’s call this the anti-GMO science fiction space movie.”

At the same time that we are being reassured the genre roots are solid the film trots out some hoary old missives about the risks of tinkering with nature. Let’s call this the anti-GMO science fiction space movie.

There’s a scientific gaff at the beginning that I found jarring and took me out of the story. When the crew first awakens from suspended animation sleep in the orbit of Titan they have a real-time conversation with someone at Earth corporate HQ. The problem is that radio transmissions to Titan should take about 90 minutes one way, so it would be more like a 2-way podcast with a 90 minute response delay than a live chat. But no matter, that only happened once. I don’t even want to get into the artificial gravity problem, it’s de rigueur now for films to just ignore gravity inside ships. Still annoying. I love how The Expanse is dealing with it. If you haven’t seen that show, go do that now!

“… on a mission to retrieve the unobtainium needed to repair the atmosphere of Earth destroyed by global warming.”

Teleios is a ship sent to Titan to find out what happened to the mining ship, Atromitos, and it’s precious precious cargo. The Atromitos was on a mission to retrieve the unobtainium needed to repair the atmosphere of Earth destroyed by global warming. This is the second swing into “cautionary tale” territory.  Some years into the mission communications with Atromitos was lost. It has taken two years for Teleios to reach Titan. 

The crew of Teleios are the GMO’s mentioned before. They are genetically engineered Replicant-like humans designed and built by The GC corporation (aka Tyrell aka Monsanto) and are “perfect” in every way. I can almost hear Tyrell saying “More human than human is our motto…” But are they, is anything, truly perfect?  If you were going to write the rest of the setup what would it be?

You were right: the crew of Atromitos is all dead except for one regular old-stye human, O’Neill (Weetus Cren) who appears to have gone quite mad and a (hot) android woman called LuLu AH-320 (Ursala Mills). Something goes awry with the GC Humans and badness ensues. The plot is thin and derivative, as are the characters. There’s something about O’Neill having taught himself Russian and Chinese and can only communicate by quoting deep cuts from the literary likes of Tolstoy and Sun Tzu. The android companion has modified herself to have working genitalia (and grateful would we be that she did but plot-wise these developments are just baffling and pointless).

Visually, the movie rocks. The space images, the ships, the crew, the tech, everything is beautiful. I found myself wishing a little more of that shiny finish effort had made it’s way into the story. This is an indie effort worthy of note that fails to tick a few boxes, but still deserves perhaps a “B” for effort.

Beyond the Trek (2017)  Written and directed by: Ian Truitner. Starring: Sunny Mabrey, Lance Broadway, T.J. Hoban.

6 out of 10

One response to “Beyond the Trek

  1. The title “Beyond the Trek” was chosen by the distribution company. In indie filmmaking it’s the distribution company that has the power in that regard. The name “Teleios” was always the intended title of the film… and the reasoning for that name is in reference to one of O’Neill’s interactions with Duncan.

    Other things like simulated gravity and communication speeds were intended to reflect advances in science and technology in 20 years, much as advances in phone technology has brought us from the IBM Simon to the iPhone. There are also unreferenced elements in ship design that apply to gravity issues, just as the differences in displays vary between ships.

    Very little of the film was affected by budgetary issues except the lack of name talent which would have given more control to the final distribution options. There was an active effort to avoid the ‘that one guy from that one show’ trap that most indie filmmakers fall into and rather cast actors that reflected the intended characters. More money probably just would have went into a more generous shooting schedule and more comfortable chairs for crew to sit in during meals.

    Everything else was thoroughly discussed through the development process, including the seemly ‘wooden acting’ at the beginning. That was also intentional, and was meant to reflect the improved genetic traits of GCs (even temperament). The science and chemistry were discussed with professionals in both corresponding fields… and a few of the director’s close friends are astrophysicists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *