As i mentioned before expectations are everything, and my expectations given the trailer for Star Trek Beyond were not high. Given the choice of song used for the trailer (i absolutely hate the beastie boys), emphasis on showing off spectacle (instead of unique ideas), and choice on director Justin Lin (who i honestly don’t have anything bad to say).
So i was determined to keep myself in the dark about this, and determined to keep my expectations so low that i could be nothing but impressed by what i saw*. Which in the end i succeeded in as i don’t think Star Trek Beyond is a bad movie, it (much like the previous two) is a fun popcorn flick and lived up to my expectations of such.
But that isn’t to say it doesn’t have its fair share of serious problems that i can’t discuss without spoiling some important plot elements (again SPOILERS you have been warned). So if you need a recommendation at this moment it is thus:
Good summer time movie, go watch you likely will not be disappointed unless you want the series to follow up on its promise of going “Where no one has gone before”.
So with that being said:
Three years into their deep space mission has the crew of the Enterprise take on a rescue mission to an uncharted part of the Galaxy, what they find there will test them all to their limit.
Much like Into Darkness and Star Trek (2009) before it, the chemistry of the cast is spot on perfect. Small scenes that have Kirk and Bones celebrating the former’s birthday, or Kirk and Spock sharing an awkward ride in the turbo lift come off perfectly smooth and natural.
While i myself groaned at the fact that they brought Justin Lin to replace JJ Abrams (who i assume couldn’t jump ship fast enough when offered Star Wars), he ultimately proves himself to be a good pick for this action heavy take on the franchise. Presenting his action as (for the most part) clear with his choice of shots, and relatively smooth without too many nauseating cuts.
Lastly i feel the need to stress the fact that i had fun watching Star Trek Beyond, which makes it immediately and infinitely better than the rolling disaster that is Batman v Superman.
it doesn’t come to my surprise given the choice of director and direction the series has taken that the movie exists entirely as an action spectacle. No interesting science fiction ideas are brought up here, and no attempt is made to explore anything new. Fine. I can deal with that, therefore if the film isn’t going to engage me with interesting concepts then at the very least it should have an engaging villain to drive the plot. To that end Beyond is a failure.
Oh Kruge, Krang, or Krap is better than Nero (who is irredeemably the worst villain in Star Trek history), he is ultimately brought down by poor motivations and overall weak writing. I’m going to guess given Kirk’s opening log about how he feels adrift and directionless in his mission of exploration, that Krall (i had to look up his name) is meant to be taken as a cautionary tale or dark reflection of what Kirk might become. As Krall was also a Captain of Starfleet, and was sent out on a mission of deep space exploration that got him seemingly lost in the void of space as well. However much like how the similarities between Hitler and Napoleon don’t actually amount to anything, the similarities between Kirk and Krall mean nothing as well.
This is because Krall is shown to be willing to destroy everything in his path, without question, and without a modicum of hesitation to achieve his ends due to his warped world view. Kirk isn’t, and i as an audience member know that Kirk would rather “… die saving others, than live knowing he killed others…” because he already faced that challenge in Into Darkness. He faced and passed that dilemma when he didn’t shoot those torpedoes, when he didn’t kill Khan, when he listened to his crew and that little voice in his head saying that what he was doing was wrong, and when he literally died for his crew.
So given previous canon, there’s no serious question that Kirk could or would fall into the abyss like Krall; and as a result there’s no temptation or sense of gravitas to Krall’s actions. As Krall has nothing but his incredible selfishness to motivate his actions, and while selfishness works for your typical episodic bad guy of the week, in a two hour long movie it fails to provide anything resembling a satisfying antagonist.
Also would it have killed the writers to come up with some new ideas? This is after all the 50th anniversary of the series, which means (ostensibly at this point) that the film makers would put just a bit more effort into making Beyond a special experience. Krall represents the third megalomaniacal psychopath in as many movies, and his origins bear similarities to Khan’s in Into Darkness (in that he has deep ties to the Federation). Here’s something i thought up just listening to Krall’s quote here:
Why not have a situation where a race of people (or even a group of races) feels intruded upon by the Federation’s unchecked exploration. Make it an allegory of how European exploration and habitation of the American frontier displaced people, mix that in with shades of gray that the Federation’s actions unintentionally have negative side effects, and have them attempt to find a diplomatic solution to the problem instead of blasting the Beastie Boys and making everything blow up (that’s almost the set up to the Dominion Wars…).
Anything, anything at all would be something new to this series of films. There’s a shocking lack of moral dilemma here, as the bad guy is irredeemably bad and the situation more straight forward than Into Darkness‘ was.
I think the best summary of the movie is given by Kirk, who at the end of the movie is once again excited to start exploring deep space; saying to Bones that he can’t imagine what lies in wait “out there”. Which is almost precisely what he said, and what he was excited about at the end of the last movie… I’m still waiting for the movie promised me by that famous closing monologue, i’m still waiting for this series to “Boldly go where no one has gone before”.
As Star Trek Beyond once again fails (even in comparison to previous entries in the rebooted series) to offer anything of substance it manages to satisfy as summer time fun on its laser beams and light speed alone.
Rating as part of rebooted series:
OUT OF FIVE
Rating as part of the Star Trek series:
OUT OF FIVE
*this worked for Dracula Untold as i thought it would be headache inducingly terribad, and it actually turned out to be ok.