STAR TREK BEYOND review

I won’t lie, I’m not exactly a Trekkie. But I am a sci-fi fan and have always been curious about the franchise, but here’s my history with it.

Obviously, I’ve seen the recent big screen films. The first one, I adore. The second one, not so much, but I loved Benedict Cumberbatch. Not long after, a friend of mine tried to get me into the TV show DEEP SPACE NINE, and showed me a couple episodes. I had to admit, I didn’t hate it. I may not have fallen in love with it, but I was open to more episodes. Eventually, I made my way to VOYAGER, but I watched that for one very specific reason: Jeri Ryan. I’ve seen her in a few other TV shows in the past and always thought she was a fine actress. I literally skipped every episode until her debut. I got hooked. I loved this iteration of the show and once it was over, I went right on back to season one and practically rewatched it. I made a couple attempts over the years to watch DEEP SPACE NINE, NEXT GENERATION, and even the original series, but to no real avail. The original series was way too outdated for me and I just didn’t give the other series’ the time of day. Although I did happen to watch the film FIRST CONTACT, and I really liked that. I do plan to try again to watch the TV series’ in the future, but that’s neither here nor there yet.

As I said, I really like the movies. I know many hardcore fans are pretty divided with the films. Some say they’re good, but they’re not Star Trek and more resemble Star Wars, which I can see that. Even J.J. Abrams admitted he didn’t like Star Trek much and preferred Star Wars. Other fans say it’s awesome, and nothing more. It’s interesting to see the reactions with everyone, but I suppose now everyone knows that I am a Star Wars fan before a Trek fan, but I’m open to these shows.

Fast-forward to today, BEYOND is pretty high up on the hype meter for me because actor Simon Pegg is attached as the writer (though he’s working with Doug Jung – he’s written a few TV episodes for DARK BLUE and BANSHEE). I feel like this could really work and although I don’t know much about the movie itself, the plot and the story and all that, I’m really excited. I’m going in with high expectations. But how does it fare? Will we go where no man has gone before, or will we be even more lost than the Voyager? This is my honest opinion of STAR TREK BEYOND.

(SUMMARY)

After a failed diplomatic mission to broker peace with an alien species, Captain James “Jim” Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) has grown weary of the space traveling and has put in a request form to depart from the Enterprise. He has yet to tell the crew, and decides that he won’t leap off the captain’s chair just yet. Especially after a young alien woman named Kalara (Lydia Wilson) arrives on the space station that the Enterprise is docked for supplies. She tells her story of how her ship is stranded in space and requests Star Fleet for help. Cue the Enterprise and her crew, they set out to look for Kalara’s ship and to lend aid. However, they’re met with an unknown enemy of hundreds, maybe thousands of tiny ships that kamikaze the Enterprise, and the enemies board the ship along with their leader, Krall (Idris Elba), who seeks an artifact that the Enterprise has. With no hope of winning the battle, and many of the ship’s crew killed, Kirk crashes the Enterprise into the nearby planet and the surviving crew must reunite to battle against Krall who has sinister plans to attack the space station that Kirk came from.

(REVIEW)

I think before I kick off my review, I wanted to express my condolences to the passing of Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the new films. He was a terrific actor and if the messages from the cast and crew that worked with him are any indication, the world also lost a good man. He always brought a special sort of energy to the roles he’s played over the years and it’s a tragedy that we won’t see him again. But his legacy is a slew of wonderful films, plenty of behind the scenes footage to see what he was like during filming of said films, ensuring that though he will be missed, he guaranteed that he won’t be forgotten. Rest in peace, Mr. Yelchin.

Now on to the review.

If anyone was worried since INTO DARKNESS was somewhat a disappointment, you can put your fears to rest. This one is significantly improved upon. This film is nonstop fun, full of humor, and bad-assery.

While returning cast Pines, Zachary Quinto, Pegg, and others are always fantastic, it’s the newbies that really deserve a shout-out. Elba delivers a wonderful bad-guy to the big screen. That’s always been one of the strange advantages of the recent Star Trek films in that they all showcase bad guys that are pretty one-note with vague reasons for their homicidal desires, but the actors that portray them are incredibly intense and memorable. Eric Bana as Nero in the first one? His performance was insane. Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan? Probably the best part of the movie. Elba as Krall? No different. He’s tough, he’s strong, he’s intimidating, but like the rest of them, his motives are pretty weak. Don’t let that take away from the incredible make-up and how he works with it. Honestly, if no one pointed out that he was Elba, I’d have totally missed that.

But probably my favorite addition is the really awesome survivor Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). This chick, warrior or not, is someone I wouldn’t want to mess with. She’s crafty, smart, resourceful, and beyond capable in a fight. She utilizes these holographic duplicates of herself in fights to confuse her enemies. She’s been able to partially restore an old-ass Federation starship that’s been inoperable for 100 years, she’s been able to camouflage said ship via cloaking tech, I love her cultural misunderstanding of how to properly say a person’s name, “Montgomery Scottie” or “James T,” but best of all, she loves hip-hop. She also does this war-cry hiss thing when she fights enemies. Why is it only someone who looks like an alien can make that awesome? I’m not complaining, though. In fact, I encourage more of this from alien characters. Anywho, bottom line, Jaylah’s awesome. She deserves to take up a chunk of the posters.

I think it’s awesome that Pegg took the writing reigns this go around, and coming from a tremendously strong comedy background, it’s only fitting that the humor is top notch, and he expertly makes a majority of it through the interactions with the characters. In fact, it’s easy to ask the following: “Why are we following Kirk and Chekov?” or “Why are we following Spock and Bones (Karl Urban)?” Then is sort of dawned on me. I think that’s the point. How often do we see these characters interact with each other? What are these relationships like when they’re not taking orders in the command deck with Kirk? We’ve seen Kirk and Bones together, we’ve seen Kirk and Spock together, but we’ve never seen Spock and Bones together all that much. I feel like this was deliberate and it pays off very well. I think this is also a testament to Pegg for knowing how to write not only a script that fits perfectly into these new films, but he knows how to write the characters of the story and what to give his fellow actors to work with and they execute phenomenally. There aren’t any real changes to the characters (other than Sulu being gay, but… I don’t know, does that really change the character?), they’re all the same as they’ve been since the first film and even improved upon from INTO DARKNESS. If the next writer hasn’t been chosen for the fourth installment yet, I would love to see Pegg return to pen the script.

And one final shout-out to the Beastie Boys. Say what you want about them… they contribute to probably one of the most awesome scenes in Trek history that I’ve ever seen. You’ll know what I mean if you see it.

***SPOILERS***

***

***

But for all the high praise I can give to the movie, I do have one small complaint. In the beginning of the movie, we learn that Kirk is planning to leave the Enterprise. He has his adventure in the movie, and then right at the end, he decides not to leave. This subplot does not add anything to the overall story. I mean, in the classic opening narration, we hear Kirk give the humorous line, “Life feels a little… episodic [paraphrased],” but it’s hard to feel how exhausted or bored he is without fully knowing why. The opening scene is him getting attacked by bad-ass versions of the rock trolls from Disney’s FROZEN. He seems like he’s pretty well taken care of as far as entertainment and excitement is concerned. But more importantly, we don’t exactly see him complain about his job as a captain at any point in the movie. We don’t feel him feeling the pressure of protecting his crew, or if it’s the other way around, that it’s not challenging enough. I’m honestly not even sure what this plot line is supposed to be getting at. He knows that the position he applied for, some kind of Admiral, is more or less a desk job that relinquishes space exploration… which is something that he decides makes the job as a captain fun. So why does he want to leave the Enterprise again? Equally confused, he doesn’t go through an arch of how his love for space exploration is reinvigorated. You could seriously cut this entire plot line out and this movie wouldn’t have missed a beat.

And honestly, if Kirk was going to leave the Enterprise, wouldn’t that be an interesting thing for future movies to commit to? I mean, STAR TREK took some risks that paid off. Destroying Vulcan, killing off Spock’s mom, this was some pretty heavy shit for as fun a movie as it was and those events still resonate through the movies even into this latest installment. I mean, Kirk stepping down from the Captain’s seat? That’s an interesting direction to take. I can’t speak for the Trekkies out there who will probably tell me shit, like, “But that wouldn’t be Kirk! He loves his job! It’s like Bruce Wayne saying, ‘I don’t want to be Batman anymore!’ It’d be a total betrayal of his character!” I don’t know, but if you have strong characters with excellent motivations and a well-crafted story to back it up, then I think you can do whatever you want with your story, but it has to make sense. Kirk’s decision to leave the Enterprise feels pretty half-baked and tacked on.

***

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***END SPOILERS***

Despite my one big problem with the movie, and it’s a problem I can’t exactly overlook, I still think this film is wonderful and definitely worth your time and money. It’s fun, it’s intense, it’s just pure, concentrated awesome. If you’ve been a fan of the recent Trek films, I highly recommend it. If you just want a good sci-fi adventure, check this one out.

My honest rating: a strong 4/5

PS: Why aren’t the MASS EFFECT fans out there crying fowl over Kirk’s jacket looking eerily similar to the dress blues worn by the video game’s characters?? I mean, whatever, MASS EFFECT borrowed a ton of elements from Trek, so… big deal that they stole a jacket.

star-trek-beyond-poster-international

Upcoming reviews:

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