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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Star Trek Beyond (2016) – Review

The crew of the Enterprise has been exploring the “Final Frontier” for fifty years now, and have encountered countless dangers and bumpy headed aliens, but in 2009 J.J. Abrams rebooted the franchise with a new cast and crew, and with this reboot Abrams created an alternate timeline.  In this alternate universe Kirk’s dad died on the day of his birth, which now makes Kirk’s birthday a bit of a bummer day, and now the way in which they crew all met up has been changed. Then 2013 Abrams gave us Star Trek: Into Darkness which was just a terrible retread of the much better Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, the 2009 movie may have had serious plot problems but it at least wasn’t a slap in the face to fans of Trek. Now with Star Trek Beyond J.J. Abrams has passed the directing torch to Justin Lin so that he could go and helm Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I couldn’t be happier.


Star Trek Beyond jumps ahead three years into the Enterprise’s five year mission and it finds James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) having a bit of an identity crisis, he’s seriously thinking of giving up the captaincy to Spock (Zachary Quinto) so he can take the position of Vice Admiral, but unbeknownst to him Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy) has died and young Spock is planning on leaving Star Fleet to take up the mantle of Vulcan Ambassador. He’s also broken up with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) because he believes it’s his responsibility to pop out Vulcan babies to help his near extinct race. Being he is only half Vulcan this kind of makes his “sacrifice” a tad stupid.


“Sorry dear, I can’t risk diluting our race any further.”

Now that is some decent drama, and it was kind of interesting to see how long space voyages effect people in different ways, but that’s not really what this movie is about. It’s about things blowing up. And they blow up real good. The main plot of this installment has to do with an alien artifact that Kirk ended up with after a diplomacy mission went down the crapper. It turns out this little item is the key to a weapon of mass destruction and the villainous Krall (Idris Elba) needs it to wreak death and destruction upon the Federation. So basically a space terrorist needs a space McGuffin to do villainous space stuff, nothing we haven’t seen countless times before, but by god does Justin Lin do a good job with it. When Krall lures the Enterprise into a dense nebula, and unleashes his swarm of deadly fighters against the Enterprise, it is a visual feast of action not yet seen in this series. Seeing the Enterprise torn to shreds was simply breathtaking, and almost makes one forgive how generically boring the villains were.

swarm attack

Note: This is the third installment in the Trek reboot and so the destruction of the Enterprise can be considered and homage to the original movie series as it was destroyed in the third installment as well.

When the survivors of the doomed Enterprise make it down to the planet’s surface, deep inside the nebula and out of contact with the Federation, they find themselves split up and hunted by Krall’s forces. One of the common criticisms of the original movies was that most of the focus stayed with Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and the rest of bridge crew would occasionally get a bone thrown their way, but in Star Trek Beyond the screen time is divided up a little better. Kirk and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) are teamed up for some good action and laughs, Spock and McCoy (Karl Urban) capture the classic chemistry from the original series as Bones tries to keep his severely wounded Vulcan nemesis alive, Uhura and Sulu (John Cho) are captured along with the bulk of the Enterprise crew, but they briefly escape to try and call for help, and finally we have Scotty (Simon Pegg) who encounters Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), a beautiful alien woman that has managed to escape and elude Krall’s soldiers while working to fix an old crashed Federation starship. And as boring and generic as the enemy Stormtroopers in this film are Jaylah is fresh and exciting. She is a total badass, and every moment she was on screen I was riveted. That Simon Pegg co-wrote the screenplay probably has something to do with Scotty being the one to pair up with her.

scotty jaylah 

“Would you like to see my engine room?”

It was kind of nice to see Scotty getting to hang out with the hot alien chick for a change, though Kirk does slide in there for a bit of a cock block rescue at one point, but if Jaylah does return in further installments I hope to see her hooking up with our favorite Starfleet engineer. There was certainly no time for romance in this movie, aside from the brief Spock/Uhura drama it’s all action-action-action, and Justin Lin is a proven hand at giving us some of the best cinematic action scenes out there. Gone are the J.J. Abrams lens flares, though at some points in the film I did miss them as we could have used the added lighting during some of the dark and murky night and underground scenes, but overall Lin did a masterful Job with both the look and structure of the film.


I saw this film in 3D, which is notoriously bad for dark scenes, so it may look better in 2D.

Now I stated earlier that the villain is just your generic baddie, but that is not exactly true, in the film’s third act there is a reveal that gives an interesting backstory to Krall’s motivations. It doesn’t completely redeem his character but it stops him from just being one of countless two dimensional Star Trek villains we’ve had in the past. Though there was one part where Krall spots Kirk’s ship approaching and he states, “There you are, my old friend.” I’m not sure what they were going for there as that’s more of a Wrath of Khan line than from a bad guy who only knows Kirk from hacking his Captain’s Logs. So Krall isn’t a terrible villain but I think they tried to make him more than he actually was.


"From my evil spikey lair, I stab at thee!"

In conclusion Star Trek Beyond is a rousing space adventure with everyone's favorite space faring crew as they take on nefarious villains in their bid to keep the universe safe, and it's easily my favorite installment of this new series. It doesn’t really break any new ground but it also doesn’t piss all over the classic Trek like Star Trek: Into Darkness did. So load yourself up with popcorn, sit back and enjoy the ride, preferably at 2D showing, as this is helluva fun time and easily one of the better Trek movies.


Can I vote for a spin-off movie with Jaylah?

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