“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Star Trek Beyond

tn_startrekbeyondI’m not sure if this is what STAR TREK BEYOND is supposed to mean, but this new star trek goes beyond just referencing old star treks. I don’t think part 2, INTO DARKNESS, is as bad as its reputation now, but it kinda left a sour taste in my mouth by building itself too much on “see, this is like before, only it’s the reverse of before” and shit like that. I would rather see a new story, which is what they did here.

Since part 1-2 director J.J. Abrams jumped ship to do a STAR WARS, he’s only producer on this one. And since Paul Greengrass decided to do another BOURNE movie with Matt Damon, Justin Lin (FAST AND FURIOUS 3-6) had to forget about the one he was developing with Jeremy Renner, so he became available.

Another thing that’s different on this one is that Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, co-wrote it (along with Doug Jung, who wrote CONFIDENCE and some episodes of Dark Blue and Banshee). So it finds Captain Kirk, like Pegg’s character in the Edgar Wright movies, unhappy and questioning what he’s doing with his life. He’s three years into a five year star trekking contract (I guess we’ve missed a whole bunch of adventures since part 2) and getting kind of bored of the ol’ final frontier. So he thinks he wants to become an Admiral.

But one day on what seems like an easy task the Enterprise suddenly gets destroyed by a swarm of metal space bug things and they crash land on a rocky planet. The crew gets split up and they face various threats before they reunite and come up with a plan to fight Krall (Idris Elba, GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE), the leader of the bugs, and rescue themselves.

It all culminates in a big action spectacle thing with a space ship chase through a city and a battle to prevent, I don’t know, destroying the city or some shit like that. But for the most part it’s like an old episode of the show: an adventure that happens on a planet they end up on. It explores themes about the meaning of star trekking and they learn about themselves and what not, but it doesn’t feel like The Most Important Thing That Ever Happened To Them. I wish that was the case with more of these event movies. It’s weird that something so simple can feel fresh.

mp_startrekbeyondI also like that it embraces the goofy and the weird. The rainbow colors on the posters aren’t lying. The opening scene, with Kirk’s disastrous attempt to deliver a gift from one alien culture to another, feels off, because animated aliens don’t seem like Star Trek to me, but it’s still a funny, clever idea. Crazy shit happens in this universe. When discussing the history of an old space craft, Bones (Karl Urban, PATHFINDER) mentions it was once grabbed by a “green space hand.” I don’t know if that refers to some specific episode, or is just meant to capture the vibe of ’60s sci fi, but I couldn’t stop smiling at that line being included in a modern, mostly serious movie.

By the way, remember how Abrams established that “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys is still remembered in this future? This one adds another song I love to the repertoire. I’m glad that the music I like happens to be what survives. I was right, you guys.

Another crazy touch is a sad one. They have one of those scenes where some very serious officials show up to deliver some news to Spock (Zachary Quinto, HITMAN: AGENT 47), so you know somebody died. It turns out it’s not his parents or some brother that went off to war, it’s Ambassador Spock. So it’s a sweet tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy, who we saw as old Spock in the first two reboot movies, but it’s also a major moment for this young Spock. Being an emotionless Vulcan he spends the movie acting like the only significance is the loss of an inspirational mentor figure. He doesn’t seem to care that he has just received news of his own death!

He and Kirk are both questioning their careers, so they kinda get the most character development. Sulu (John Cho, reunited with Lin 14 years after BETTER LUCK TOMORROW) and Chekov (the late, lamented Anton Yelchin, FRIGHT NIGHT) are really just supporting characters who each get a few funny moments, but are mostly there to follow orders. But Bones (Urban at his most charismatic ever) gets the most funny lines, and Scotty gets to have the most time with the cool new character, Jaylah (Sofia Boutella, Gazelle from KINGSMAN), a no-nonsense warrior with the appearance of a Sith and the personality of a Na’avi. A resourceful survivor of a previous Krall attack, she lives inside a crashed Federation starship that they might be able to bring back to life, like Dominic Toretto’s unkillable muscle car.

Jaylah steals the movie, which is kind of unfair to Uhura (Zoe Saldana, COLOMBIANA) because it seems like she doesn’t get as much to do as the boys. In FAST AND FURIOUS terms, Jaylah gets to be Letty, so Uhura has to be Mia.

But the weak link in the movie is Krall – not the singer Diana Krall, who is not in the movie, but Krall, the villain, who I mentioned earlier so obviously that’s who I meant, you guys. Krall is a character that hides the great Elba behind too much alien makeup. He isn’t as intimidating as Bana in part 1, and isn’t very clearly explained when they get into his backstory and motives.

I do appreciate the gesture, though. A (THIS IS A SPOILER) former military officer who became a Federation captain when peace came to the universe, he is a soldier facing off with an explorer. Kirk is able to rediscover his purpose while also emphasizing why Star Trek is different from other space stories: it’s about star peace.

I love the message, but it also feels slightly disingenuous, because right after righteously telling Krall that the Federation is not a military organization, he has to defeat him in a floating fist fight to the death. And I feel like a bit of a phony as a viewer because I have to admit that I was excited about the idea of Jaylah returning in another movie, and then less excited when they made it clear she’d be wearing a uniform instead of kicking ass. So that puts into question how dedicated I am to this message of space harmony.

still_startrekbeyondI kinda forget about this, because I don’t really spend much time around people who don’t respect the FAST AND FURIOUS series, but I’ve definitely seen some snobbishness about Lin being chosen to direct this. Just because he directed four beloved movies, turning a basically dead series into a pop culture phenomenon, and the biggest franchise in Universal Studios history, they think he’s qualified to do a STAR TREK? Why, I never. I wonder if they were mad when the guy who wrote INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS was hired to direct WRATH OF KHAN.

The ironic part is that Lin sees himself as more of a Star Trek guy than a car guy. I think he does a good job, but not as good as he does on his FAST movies, and he doesn’t try to reinvent the series like he did there. If you’re looking for action there is some good stuff, but it’s more the ideas that are cool than the execution most of the time. Apparently Joe Taslim from THE RAID and FURIOUS 6 is in here, but someone will have to tell me what he did. I think he’s in makeup too.

There’s a big, fun action moment in the middle of the movie – you will know what it is and it involves a motorcycle – that definitely reminds you who directed this. But the real reason to hire Lin isn’t on the surface. The main appeal to FAST AND FURIOUS isn’t the cars, just as in Star Trek it’s not the space ships. In both it’s the ensemble of very likable characters, the friendship they have, the sometimes funny things they say to each other, and how they work together as a complex machine to accomplish a mutual goal. And then laugh and celebrate with each other.

Happily, I think the Star Trek themes match up with Lin’s FAST themes. In BEYOND they seem to use the word “unity” as much as FURIOUS 6 uses “family.” Kirk’s crew becomes his family, just like Dom’s crew becomes his. They even both use the word “crew”!

Kirk’s crew, as an extension of Gene Roddenberry’s progressive vision, is pretty diverse, with members who are white, black, Asian, various nationalities, and now at least one is gay (I think Sulu’s husband is played by writer Doug Jung – would’ve been a good place for a Sung Kang cameo!). Plus different types of aliens. Of course, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is a little ahead on this one, always sticking with only one lead white man in their large ensemble. But we’re dealing with the same message in both of these. I don’t care if you’re Vulcan, or a reggaeton star, or a lady with a head shaped like a sea shell, I don’t care if you drive a Japanese car or an American one, we can all get along, we can share in a passion, we can be family.

Kirk, like Dom, lost his father in a traumatic way, and is still dealing with it every day. Both started by breaking the rules, but succeeded because of a strong sense of honor. Both have larger-than-life charisma that brings people together, turns rivals into brothers, turns disparate people into a family. And they think they want to come home, but their real home is out there traveling, in concert with their vehicles, like a cowboy and his horse, living life a quarter mile or a light year at a time.

I’ll be honest, I’ve given it many shots over the years and I just don’t think I’m a guy who can enjoy Star Trek in the way I enjoy THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. But in a way I think they’re the same. Both long, convoluted sagas about friendship and teamwork, talented people rising above challenges to succeed. They can be fun, silly stories, but sometimes characters we like die, and sometimes they come back somehow. They give us pulpy adventure on the surface but underneath they speak to our humanity and positivity. Trekkos and Fast Furiosas, we are brothers.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 at 1:07 pm and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

56 Responses to “Star Trek Beyond”

  1. Vern- Taslim plays Krall’s second-in-command guy, the one who has the fight Jaylah while Kirk is motorcycling around. It’s funny, because I was watching that fight and thinking it was strange to see an alien doing elaborate martial arts moves, and then of course it turns out that’s because when Justin Lin hires a guy from THE RAID to be in his sci-fi movie, you’re goddamn right he’s going to have them do some cool stuff like they did in THE RAID, unlike *some* people *coughcoughJJcoughcough*.

  2. This movie was much more fun than I expected.
    The green hand is a reference to the original series episode “Who Mourns for Adonis” and immediately made me smile when I heard it.
    Thanks for the review, Vern.

  3. “I’ll be honest, I’ve given it many shots over the years and I just don’t think I’m a guy who can enjoy Star Trek in the way I enjoy THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. ”

    I’m the complete opposite. I don’t know how people sit through “vrooooom vrooooooooooooo, chase, vrooooooooo, vrum vrum vrum vrooooooom” movies. I LOVE the Star Trek franchise, and I LOVE this installment. It’s one of the “Trekkiest” installments we’ve seen in a while. I’d definitely put it in the upper half of the franchise-maybe even the top quarter.

  4. I was so bummed out by the horrible KILLING JOKE movie that I immediately went from that one into this. It was the right decision, it’s the first rebooted TREK movie that makes an argument as to why these films should exist. And it mostly does that by remembering the charm of the original characters, rather than trying to change them.

    I like that Pegg and Jung smartly break the ensemble into little teams, which highlight each character’s distinct quirks (emotional Bones vs logical Spock [who finally, finally actually talks like Spock], naive Chekov vs decisive Kirk, practical Scotty vs brash Jalaya, and boring Sulu vs boring Uhura [OK, they can’t all be winners], and, thematically, peaceful, optimistic federation against the angry nihilist people of Conflictopolis). This plays to the natural charm of the cast and goes a long way towards justifying why this was a worthwhile enterprise (ha!) to begin with, though I still would prefer to see this cast in a movie which wasn’t so reliant on the past to give it meaning.

    But nevermind, it’s a great-looking movie with tons of fun sequences. I wish Krall’s character made a little more sense, but you can’t resist the gravity-defying finale. Now, let’s get Lin on some STAR WARS movies and we’ll really have something.

  5. By the way, surely someone is hoping to replace the sadly departed Yelchin with Jaylah at the helm, right? She’s a great addition to the crew, and there’s an open spot now that they’ve said they’re not going to replace Yelchin as Chekov.

  6. I’m a big Star Trek nerd, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to see this one last weekend. The one thing these movies got right immediately was the cast. Everyone seemed to perfectly embody their archetype right off the bat. My favorite character has always been Bones, and I think Urban nails the character. The Kirk/Spock dynamic is what everyone always discusses, but the antagonism between Spock and Bones has always been the highlight of the series for me. I’ve always loved Bones’s cynicism and moral righteousness. I’m glad the character gets more of a spotlight this time around.

  7. I thought this one was a very successful blend of what was great about the original series (the camaraderie between the crew, the feeling of daily life aboard a spacecraft, the feeling that every hunk of rock out there in the black hosted some weird, baldly allegorical conundrum involving people with craggy foreheads) and what works about the new one (the bugger action, the more human drama, the tweaks on established character dynamics). As dumb as they are, I don’t mind J.J.’s Treks but they do feel like he was working overtime to make sure you knew this wasn’t your daddy’s STAR TREK. In the process, the movie’s feel like something got lost in the rush to supercharge the franchise. This one is more like “We’re not your daddy’s STAR TREK either, but that’s okay. Your daddy’s STAR TREK was pretty cool. I think we could learn a lot from each other.” Ironically, the guy who got famous for directing car chases is the one that let the movie slow down for a minute so we could get to know the cast better, not the guy who got famous for a show where college girls sit around and talk about boys.

    Bring on the whales, I say.

  8. Vern, no remarks on the ‘jumping toward eachother in midair to catch eachother’ move Lin puls again in this movie? We may very well have a signature move in the works here!

    I also love the fact that dispite this being a star trek movie Lin can’t resist a good old fashioned fistfight and some motorcycle action. I think he may be the only guy working today who puts this type of action so consistently in his movies.

  9. I am consistently baffled to find so many people who enjoyed this movie. It was such a disappointment to me. I went in with moderately high hopes and they were completely shattered. I’m not much of a Trekkie. I think Wrath of Khan was clearly, by far, the best Star Trek ever. I thought the reboot was promising but the 2nd one just screwed the pooch by trying to be a rebooted Wrath when they hadn’t earned it yet. For me, this movie just made no sense, none at all, ever. The characters weren’t too bad, but there were basically no arcs. Kirk’s was bullshit. The only reason he had an arc at all was because they started him off as something that he isn’t, wasn’t, and never will be: bored with his job. And the only reason they did that was so they could have a false arc for him to come back to where he should have started the damn movie at.

    Arg. Well, if you enjoyed it, you enjoyed it, and more power to you. I just feel like such a damn outsider everywhere because I seem to see things so very differently from most other people. Bummer.

  10. Sorry to interrupt this TREK discussion but I found this image on the interenet that I think if highly relevant to our interests.

  11. Shit, it doesn’t seem to be showing up.

  12. I’m a more or less lifelong (Let’s say, since I was 6) Trekko, but I really am not on the same level as the modern day Trekkos. I mean, we all loved the first movie in the Abramsverse, but I loved INTO DARKNESS (while acknowledging that the last act was the worst case of misguided fan service ever), while they hated it so much to reatroactively declare the whole Abramsverse as worst trash ever. And while they celebrate BEYOND the best of the new bunch, I only like it a bit. Kinda like I like SEARCH FOR SPOCK or INSURRECTION. It’s not bad and most likely has a good rewatch value, but it’s more on the level of a mediocre TV episode (which much better production values).

    I really don’t get what makes Krall tick or (spoiler) transform. He is still kinda threatening and Elba really gives 100% here, but he is the most one dimensional villain that TREK had in a while. He doesn’t hold a candle to the misguided, but somehow understandable rage of Nero or the “Well, they both have good points, but their methods are completely wrong and inexcusable” of Khan 2.0 and Admiral Marcus.

    And unlike the previous two movies, where everybody got a big moment to shine, most of them are just there. Especially Sulu and Chekov are more glorified extras this time. Uhura gets one or two “token strong woman” moments, Spock spends most of the movie with assuring everybody that his injury isn’t that bad and Kirk goes from “Waaaah, I don’t wanna be on a spaceship anymore, give me a nice office job!” to “That’s awesome! Space exploration for life!” in less than five seconds.

    Also I was forced to watch it in 3D and the first two, big action scenes were so dark, that they were more audioplays for me. Can’t wait to rewatch them in 2D home video.

    Apart from that, the movie is entertaining. The small touches save it, like the GALAXY QUEST opening, the banter and bonding between the crew and of course SABOTAGE! (I wish MCA would still be alive to witness how his music saves the universe.)

    Can we talk about Sulu’s homosexuality for a moment? They announced it with huge fanfare and I’m glad that they did that, because the movie fails to communicate it. He hugs a man in a friendly way that suggests that he is his brother or best friend and that’s it. No kisses, no “I love you”. I guess in the end, STAR TREK is still not as progressive as it pretends to be.

  13. And Griff: That shit made me laugh like a maniac and I don’t know why,

  14. I’d like some context though; is it from the 70s or now? Does this penguin have any further adventures? And that is Kris Kristofferson in the last panel right?

  15. Any actual Star Trekking in this one? I love Trek but have been ambivalent about this one cause I’m still not sure. Without the Trekking and powerful presence of the enterprise (which ST XI and XII both lacked) it’s just STAR WARS and I’m not really in the mood for that shit.

  16. Forgot to mention that I haven’t read the review or thread yet cause I haven’t seen it yet and it is on my radar. So apologies if my question were already answered but that’s why I asked.

  17. Depends on your definition of “Star Trekking”.
    If you want a story that has a certain more or less ripped-from-the-headlines connection to the real world, like INTO DARKNESS, THE VOYAGE HOME or THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, this one doesn’t have it.

    If you just wanna see the crew go on an adventure, far away from home and fight some random villain, like in parts 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and many episodes of all series, this one is for you.

    If you want a morality tale about false prophets, gods, leaders, maybe the crew reuniting two tribes that hate each other, although the only difference between them is the colour of their clothes, skip this one.

    If you just wanna see the crew acting like a big family, maybe some insight into their private life, and having to overcome a huge obstacle with their brains and technology, feel free to check it out.

  18. Captain Kirk bored with his job, Spock crying more than anyone else, a motorcycle on a starship? I think this is Star Trek for Vern but I don’t think this is Star Trek for me. I think when a property is touched by Ray Jay Abrams it (purposefully) loses something that made it what it was. I didn’t enjoy Star Wars TFA either.

    That’s OK though, I will just stick with the old ones.

  19. It would have to have an alien Kumite to be a Star Trek for me.

  20. WHY ISN’T THAT A THING

  21. I don’t see how Kirk becoming disenchanted with his job and thinking about becoming an admiral is out of character, considering that’s exactly what Kirk Prime did. If anything, Neu Kirk is the more Kirk-like of the two because he stayed in the captain’s seat while O.G. Kirk sold out and took the desk job.

    I believe this complaint may fall in the “Iceskating Uphill, Motherfuckers Always Trying To” file.

  22. Well, there is an episode of STAR TREK: VOYAGER, where Seven Of Nine is forced to take part in an intergalactic fighting tournament and even has to fight The Rock (Back then still only The Rock) with a bumby forehead. Not saying it’s up to our standards of fictional fights, but as a footnote, kinda interesting.

  23. Season 6, episode 15: “Tsunkatse”, also guest starring underrated TREK MVP Jeffrey Combs, in one of his least memorable roles in that franchise, if anybody wants to check it out on their streaming site of choice.

  24. There’s a 1989 sci-fi movie named ARENA from Charles Band’s pre-Full Moon company Empire Pictures that centers around an alien Kumite. It even follows the BLOODSPORT template by being about an outsider (in this case, a puny earthling) winning the tournament for the first time.

  25. Bless you, Mr. M. Bless you.

  26. Majestyk – I don’t want to get TOO nerdy on this (he says as he types something about Star Trek on the inter web) but Kirk Klassic got bored of being an admiral at a desk job, he didn’t get bored from being out there ‘hopping galaxies’. That was the point in the beginning of Wrath of Khan. He took the desk job and regretted it because he was losing his soul.

  27. Haven’t seen Beyond the Star Trek yet, want to see it with my OG Trekkie brother but he’s been burnt on the ‘Kelvin timeline’ and is not feeling it. I just wanted to comment that you sold me on Arena. It just so happens that my brother and I are watching a whole bunch of tournament movies right now (inspired by our 4th of July DOA watch) and we were starting to run out. Thanks!

  28. feet: I get that. But Kirk Prime still took the desk job at some point, so he must have had his reasons. He very well might have been going through what Neu Kirk is seen going through in BEYOND. I bet it can get lonely out there where no man has ever gone before, even for a galactic pussy magnet like Kirk. We just didn’t see those experiences because they happened offscreen. We all know that Kirk’s place is out there in the stars, though, and Cool Ranch Kirk actually figures that out earlier in his life than Original Recipe Kirk did.

    Point being, I don’t see anything about the issues the character experiences in BEYOND that contradict what I’ve known of James T. my whole life. He will always be tempted away from the captain’s chair–by career goals, by existential angst, by a time loop in which he gleefully chops firewood for 75 years–but he will always come back to it. That’s 100% Kirk.

  29. But also, if it wasn’t consistent, who gives a shit? This is a different character. Different characters have different motivations and thus different behaviors. Standard Definition Kirk grew up with a decorated Star Fleet officer as a dad. He believed in the sanctity of his mission from Day One. Hi-Def Kirk didn’t have that. Is it so weird to think a guy who devoted his life to something on the spur of the moment might wake up one day and wonder how the hell he got there and if he even wants any of it? I think the movie does a good job of explicating how even a natural-born star-trekker can get lost out there.

  30. For some comparisons, Shatner was 35 when the tv series started. For the first move, he was already an admiral but he was 48. Pine was promoted to Capt at 28. In Beyond, he is 35, finally the same age as Shatner when he started the whole thing. I understand, different universe, slightly different person, certainly different career progressions, but it just seems way to early to play the “I’m getting bored of being the Captain” card.

    Anyway, my main problem with the movie is the story itself and it’s lack of ability to make any kind of sense at all. That kind of thing can be overcome, but only if you have some great characterization and interaction and such. Or, if you leave the characterization in this movie, it still could have been good if it was paired with a kick-ass story. But the story sucked and the characters were at best, weak. For me. For that reason, I rate this movie as “bad”.

  31. Pacman2.0 – I thought it’d be funnier without any context but here’s where I found it.

    http://www.misterkitty.org/extras/stupidcovers/stupidcomics51.html

  32. The Giant green space hand thing was an OG episode called “Who Mounres for Adonis” where the crew find, yet another weird space god (Seriously like every third episode was another space god in TOS), this time pretending to be… I wanna say Appolo? from the greek pantheon. Who catches the ship and makes it land with a giant green space hand.

  33. Since it got namechecked in the review above, did you ever watch Banshee? It was a bit inconsistent but at its peak in seasons one and three it was brilliant, great cast and characters with the best, most innovative action scenes I’ve seen on any TV show. I always thought of it as a prestige version of Roadhouse.

  34. I liked this one. Liked Jayla (or whatever her name is) and would love her to be part of the crew. I don’t think any version of the show has had a character quite like her…at least as a permant member.

    I thought Elba’s motives were pretty clear. He was abandoned by the Federation decades ago, and had grown mad with revenge in the interim. Pretty straight forward theme actually, and brings about the whole modern debate of Tough Vs. Comfy pretty well. A little blurry on how him and his crew became alien energy vampires…and even more so how there was a whole hoard of them. The Captains log they find seems to imply artifacts on the planet they were on mutated them. Not the best explanation I guess…but I’ll take it.

    One cool thing is that character mentions he was a veteran of the Xindi Wars. That is the major conflict of the Prequil series Enterprise. Time-Wise, that’s still in the JJ-Verse because it takes place before Spock Prime arrived, but this is the first they have officially acknowledged that. Pretty cool continuity there!!!

    Also, that Green Hand episode is also the one they are watching in the newest X-MEN. I think Quicksilver is watching it, but might have forgot. Weird episode to suddenly be back in the public Zeitgeist like that, but if it referencing it like that gives people nostalgia for Sci-Fi that wacky, and in turn they start making Sci-Fi that wacky, I’m all for it!!!

  35. Yeah, BANSHEE is basically ROADHOUSE. It is even more preposterous I would like to add. Which makes it better.

  36. When people complain that the Abrams-era Trek movies are action movies that don’t have enough exploring of strange new worlds, I want to ask which of the ten prior Trek films satisfy them. Those were pretty much all action-adventure movies too, apart from the original MOTION PICTURE which was widely condemned specifically for its lack of action (though it seems more appreciated today).

    Also, before Abrams came along, Star Trek (especially the Kirk-era stuff) was full of space battles and fist fights. I don’t get why it’s OK for a Star Trek action sequence to involve spaceships, handheld phasers, or fists, but once you bring in cars or motorcycles you have crossed some invisible line.

    Also, I seem to remember Star Trek fans used to make a big deal out of the Vulcan catchphrase IDIC (infinite diversity in infinite combinations). I guess I always took that phrase to mean that variety is a good thing, but maybe some modern-day Star Trek fans feel the opposite and that you should keep out any ideas that are too different from what you’re used to.

    If there is a story point that seems to go against Trek’s established moral philosophy of peace and acceptance then I could understand why fans would be upset. But even there, Trek has made exceptions (e.g. having some established alien races as straight-up villains, or having the story resolved with a battle to the death rather than a peace conference) for the sake of an entertaining story.

    In short, I find it silly when people criticize a Star Trek movie on the grounds of “Star Trek would/should never do that.” If Star Trek really is about exploration and acceptance and open-mindedness then it should be able to do anything, in any style.

    Also, I guess the ‘Summer 2016: Origins’ series is over. I was curious to see which previous Star Trek production Vern would review in preparation for BEYOND, but oh well.

  37. Let’s be honest. A lot of fans of that show, that is legendary for preaching and teaching tolerance and unsig your brain, are arrogant and elitist asshole snobs. It’s like they never actually watched that show.

  38. Curt — While most of the STAR TREK movies have been adventures, I do think it’s worth noting that “action-adventure” is a very broad category. It covers everything from KISS KISS BANG BANG to QUEST FOR FIRE. But we won’t call those movies basically the same, just because they have action-oriented plots. I enjoyed BEYOND, but I still see a pretty huge divide between the tone and content of the the OG Star Trek and the new ones (maybe slightly less so with the later NEXT GENERATION movies, which were pretty action-oriented). Pretty much all the TOS movies have action elements, but they’re still essentially science-fiction stories, all built around nifty sci-fi concepts and engaging with the series’ fundamental philosophical underpinnings. I think it’s fair to say that the Abrams ones, while not ENTIRELY subverting that impulse, certainly orient themselves far more towards frenetic setpieces and space fantasy. While they may be on the same spectrum, the tones are pretty different. I can definitely see why a fan of, say, STAR TREK V would find very little common ground with a fan of BEYOND. They both have their charms, but they’re not the same charms, despite both having scenes with punching.

  39. Not calling anybody here snob assholes, btw.

  40. I finally got around to seeing this last night, and I thought it was a lot of fun. I liked the fact that it felt like an extended episode of the original series. There was something light footed about the movie that felt refreshing. Sure, they set up certain character arcs, but there wasn’t the brutal drama of Captain America: Civil War or Batman v Superman.

    Also, I think that these Star Trek films exist in a different environment than the earlier movies. It used to be that the earlier films could essentially make money by catering to a small cult audience by keeping the budgets low. I’m just not sure if that’s possible anymore. They need to deliver some kind of CGI spectacle to bring people into the theaters. But they keep enough of Star Trek ethos, like its bright colored optimism, that I don’t really mind this change. While these movies don’t have some of the interesting sci-fi ideas like they had in the original films, aesthetically they’re much closer to the TV show.

  41. “Griff
    July 27th, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    There we go.”

    Quack.

  42. Speaking of TV Show Aesthetics, am I the only one who felt this one seemed a little…cheap looking? I mean this probably has the most action and stunts in any Trek movie ever, but there’s something weirdly flat and TV-movie looking about it (I think this is the first one shot on video instead of film, or maybe Lin just doesn’t have the eye that Abrams had). I mean, the entire climax with a bunch of ships flying through a city was unthinkable for old Trek, and it should be amazing, but it’s too fast and chaotic and weightless (like the overstuffed action in the prequels) and I just felt like I was watching someone else play a video game. The “3D” didn’t help either since it made the film so dark I had no idea what was happening half the time (I guess Kirk somehow made the saucer of the Enterprise flip over like a coin so it could squash one person? I have no idea).

    *SPOILERS* But I think I missed something story-wise too – I like the twist about the bad guy even though I don’t quite understand it and don’t get why it shows up so late at the end. I know there was a sentence about a drone army, but I didn’t get if the other bad guys were robots or aliens or other turned crew members? I mean, there seemed to be roughly A MILLION swarm ships at the end, I don’t get where they came from (or why there seemed to be like 5 bad guys guarding the base during the motorcycle shootout). Also had no idea what the MacGuffin thing was. All that trouble for a “biological weapon” that needs to be manually fed into an air supply like glorified nerve gas when the swarm ships are already pretty much the greatest weapon in the Universe?

    Am I also the only one a little disappointed by Jaylah? I mean she’s cool but some of the hype I’ve read reminds me of the way people freaked out about Wonder Woman’s limited screentime in BvS. Her whole story basically seemed like “The Star Trek crew meets Rey from The Force Awakens”, complete with abandonment on a planet, great mechanic skills, and bo staff-fighting random dudes. Was Simon Pegg just writing this script during lunch breaks when he was IN The Force Awakens with Rey? And what happened to Taslim’s second in command character? Him and Jaylah have a whole Inigo Montoya/Count Six Fingers-style revenge subplot but I think she just bails in the middle of their fight and he’s never seen again?

    I don’t want to seem like I hated this movie. It’s fun and light-hearted and has more character building than you’d normally see. It’s competent. But I think in an effort to mainstream Trek to make some Marvel money, they kinda ended up making a typical Marvel movie – adequate and disposable and kind of forgettable to be honest.

  43. neal, most of your problems with the bad guy are really not explained at all and it’s bugging me since I left the movie theatre. Don’t know if the script was badly written or lots of stuff was cut out, though.

    From what I remember, Taslim got a “Disney death” and fell from the platform where he was fighting Jaylah, but we don’t see him splat, so maybe he landed with a cool backflip and is now running the planet.

    I was wondering about that magic weapon thingy either. I guess just destroying the station and other starships with the drones wouldn’t be enough for him, so he needed something to completely dissolve it into nothing and was willing to make it extra complicated, just to make sure it’s all gone forever.

    And I had the same darkness problem, but I’ve heard from some people that they didn’t have any problems to see everything, so I guess our theatres simply fucked up and didn’t adjust the projector to 3D brightness.

  44. Neal – I think you’re being too harsh on the film to suggest that it has a TV movie look. The movie is more brightly lit than is the norm these days. Even TV shows are going darker. But I do think Lin does a lot of cool stuff spatially. His cameras move in and around the characters and the environment. I also loved the design of Yorktown.

    I did have the same problem with the 3D viewing as others did around here. That bit where they had to return to the saucer section at night was hard to follow for me, but I think we just got theaters who weren’t properly lighting their 3D movies.

    As far as not fully explaining the villain and his henchmen, it doesn’t really bother me. I assume that his people are also ex-Federation and their descendants. Maybe they’re also people he’s captured over the years. I’m not sure a detailed explanation would improve the film. Also, not all those swarm ships are manned, so he wouldn’t need millions of people to put his plan in action.

  45. Just saw this one. I liked it for the same reasons that have been discussed, so I won’t go into it.

    My only issue/confusion with the villain was why his immortal making energy vampirism turned him into an alien and then back to human. Was it based on whose energy he was sucking? Like he was feeding on some aliens before but then when he started getting human energy he turned back human?

    Neal – the reason the macguffin weapon was better than all the “bee” ships was because it only killed organic material. He wouldn’t have had to damage the station and then could’ve used it.

  46. Maggie – ah, that makes sense. I guess I didn’t think about that since honestly from what we’ve seen of Krall, he doesn’t seem like a character who would even care about taking a space station intact. (I got the feeling if the Enterprise didn’t blow up all his swarm ships they’d still be tearing apart Yorktown, right?)

    Rbatty – yeah I definitely didn’t want my comments to seem as harsh as they sound; and despite my questions Krall doesn’t really bother me that much either (unlike STiD, where I was truly annoyed by Khan’s nonsensical plan and motivations, not to mention the 72 torpedoes and the magic blood, etc….) And I at first assumed the swarm ships weren’t manned, otherwise this would have a body count higher than all previous Star Trek movies combined (well, except ST 09 of course). But then I THINK Bones and Spock ejected 1 (or 2)? pilots both times they took over a ship, so I don’t think there’s any reason to assume they WEREN’T all manned, right? Again, so much of this movie was incomprehensible to me that I felt this one should have been called Into Darkness. (And weirdly I’m listening to a Podcast review of it right now where they complained about how dark the 3D experience was). You figure movie theatres would actually learn to light their movies properly by now!

  47. Neal — Krall mentions in his video that the planet they landed on was unpopulated, but a dead civilization left behind a drone army. I think all the “guys” in armor and in the swarm ships are actually robots. The only living things are Krall and his two lieutenants.

  48. The first season of Babylon 5 had an episode with an alien fighting tournament. It was called TKO and it is unfortunately one of the worst of the entire show.

  49. Jonathan Anthony

    August 3rd, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    So, I seem to be the only one here that more or less totally understood Krall’s deal just based on a single viewing, and while watching it in brain-cell-killing IMAX 3-D at that (God, what a headache).

    He was a soldier in the wars that helped form the peaceful Federation, and when he was made a Captain, he couldn’t adjust to peacetime. During his time in the trenches, so to speak, he’d become addicted to fighting, and formed a psychosis based on the idea that, humanity is strongest in the face of hardship. So he considers a concept like the Federation, a big happy Kumbaya space family, to be naive, and the stuff of pussies.

    And when he and his crew got stranded and left for dead, he went even more fucking nuts, and so not only wanted revenge on the Federation for leaving them out there to die, but also wanted to finally make his ideological point. Multiple times in the film, he monologues to the characters about this, saying stuff like ‘you think unity gives you strength, but it is your weakness’ and so forth.

    So, I am a bit confused that so many people find his motivation confusing, when it makes sense to me, and makes him a villain that actually validates the franchise’s pro-peace themes. He’s an avatar of all the nightmarish right-wing warmongers that can’t comprehend the merits of diplomacy.

  50. Just saw this and I thought it was great. This one really made me wish this was a tv show because they have such great chemistry now.

    Also Jonathan brings up a good point. This movie is so completely liberal that I can totally see hardliner Republicans rooting for Krall.

  51. I had my first rewatch of this today and all in all I still have the same opinion about it like 2 years ago. It’s funny in a sad way though, how it took only that short timespan to realize that the bad guy in this one is actually an alt-right posterboy, with his opinions against open borders, peace, multiculturalism and political correctness, but is totally pro “drop bombs on everybody who isn’t like me”. Back then he was just another narrow minded pro-military asshole, but now too many things he said are shit we hear from actual real people in our everyday lives.

    At this point it really saddens me, that we might not get another movie with this crew, because unlike back in the days, the stars are all actors with real careers (No offense to the Trek OGs) and therefore busier and most likely more expensive, and Paramount now makes this series with real A-list budgets, which means if it doesn’t break a record in its first weekend, they might not be too much in a hurry to do the next one.

  52. Isn’t the Tarantino one with this cast? Or are you assuming that will fall through?

    If it will help you feel optimistic, here’s an article from today quoting multiple cast members saying they believe they’ll be doing a new one soon:

    http://comicbook.com/startrek/2018/04/01/star-trek-4-multiple-scripts-zachary-quinto/

  53. I seem to remember that there were talks about Tarantino doing an unrelated stand alone movie, but so much was said about it, who knows what was true and what wasn’t. But I believe that it won’t happen, since Tarantino doesn’t really seem to be a franchise player and even if it’s an acclaimed filmmaker like him, I can’t see Paramount giving him the amount of freedom in one of their most valuable franchises, that he might want. I fully expect QT Trek to end up like Tarantino’s IRON MAN, Tarantino’s CASINO ROYALE and Tarantino’s FRIDAY THE 13th. Or at least a “Story by Quentin Tarantino” credit and lots of angry interviews about how nothing he wrote ended up on screen.

    But it’s good to hear that they are still working on another one with this crew. Before BEYOND (that sounds weird if you say it out loud) they were all “Hey, we are already working on a new script, shooting starts soon” and then they stopped talking about it, when the (actually pretty good, but not as good as the previous two) box office numbers rolled in.

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