Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Beyond the Trek: The Teleios Journeys into Cosmic Chaos

Whenever humanity tries to perfect itself, it inevitably leads to tragedy. This will be just as true for the new breed of genetically engineered “GC” humans, but they just do not know it yet. Their limitations will be become painfully obvious during a not-so routine salvage mission in Ian Truitner’s Beyond the Trek (a.k.a. Teleios, trailer here), which releases today on VOD.

In the space-faring future, the elites have chosen to propagate with through the genetic engineering services of Glen Crest Labs (GC). The resulting babies become smarter, stronger, and less emotional adults. Non-GC babies become the same old screw-ups. The crew of the Teleios assumes their latest salvage mission is another case of GC’s cleaning up after non-GC’s, but then they arrive at the Atromitos.

Out of the entire non-GC crew, only unassuming Travis O’Neill and the synthetic gynoid Lulu are still alive, but the cargo is gone. They assume O’Neill is exaggerating his post-traumatic shellshock, but he is clearly not faking the multilingual fluency he is not supposed to have. Officer Iris Duncan will be in charge of his interrogation, because she is the closest the Teleios crew gets to empathy. She will also exploit O’Neill’s pathetically human attachment to Lulu. He does not say much, but she quickly figures out the cargo is probably much more sinister than they were led to believe. Soon, Duncan observes signs of erratic behavior within the supposedly perfect Teleios crew. The captain becomes a bullying martinet, the doctor gets forgetful, and she is acting more than a little twitchy.

As titles go, could there be a lamer attempt to exploit search engine confusion than Beyond the Trek? The original title Teleios is far more fitting, given its ambiguous Greek meaning for either perfection or completion, but “B” comes much sooner in the alphabet than “T,” so here we are. Regardless, Beyond is much smarter than your average kitbashed VOD releases. It really has something to say about human nature and the perfectibility of man.

Sunny Mabrey does a nice job as Duncan and Weetus Cren is quite impressive as the profoundly messed up O’Neill. Christian Pitre and T.J. Hoban have their moments as well, as the horny crewmembers, Anderson and Zimmer. Michael Nouri adds a bit scenery chewing as the civilian authority back on Earth, but former New York Met Lance Broadway somewhat awkwardly looks and sounds like a poor man’s Jerry O’Connell while playing bossy Commander Linden.

Nobody can accuse Beyond of oversimplification. There is a heck of a lot at stake, all of which touches on some big-picture philosophical concepts. You have to give Truitner credit for shrewdly marshalling his resources as well. The ending would have benefited from a bit of punching-up, but it is always hard to wrap-up genre films in a completely satisfying manner. In this case, Beyond is promising enough to wonder what Truitner might do with a big budget franchise reboot. Pretty good overall, Beyond the Trek releases today (9/5) on VOD platforms (including iTunes) and will be exclusively available on DVD at Walmart.