Review: Star Trek Beyond

I’m not a huge Star Trek fan. I didn’t grow up watching any of the TV Series or any of the older films. My childhood Sci-Fi fix was met by VHS tapes of every Star Wars movie, and boy did I love it. Compared to the pulse pounding action and high stakes presented by the Star Wars films, the Star Trek universe seemed very boring, what with its constant striving for diplomacy and “exploration.” But then, the Star Wars prequels came out…

J.J. Abrams has been a favorite writer of mine that I have been following for quite some time. His original TV show, Fringe, helped stir my imagination and inspire my love for the Sci-Fi genre. So when I heard that he was going to write AND direct a new Star Trek movie series back in 2009, I was actually excited. I had never had much appreciation for the franchise, but I knew that Abrams would deliver. The first film in this series, simply titled Star Trek, was a great summer flick that brought great character interactions and a few very good action-sequences. His second film, Star Trek: Into Darkness, did not live up to its predecessor’s name. Abrams turned over the franchise after this, and that’s when Justin Lin took up the torch. If you recognize this name from previous reviews of mine, then you’ll know that my hopes for the franchise pretty much died at this point. Lin has made his fame from directing the last few films in the Fast and Furious franchise, which is a blockbuster franchise that has never deserved to become a franchise.

But, I will say, that when I also heard that Idris Elba would be joining the cast as the next film’s primary antagonist, and that Simon Pegg (famous for his films like Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz, who also plays Scotty) was going to help write it, a little bit of hope was restored for me. So, the big question is, were they enough to save this film from the inevitable mindless action film that Lin would turn it into?

 

Story: 6/10

As you watch this film, you’ll definitely be able to catch onto where and when Simon Pegg, a person who grew up loving Star Trek and whose comedy mainly focuses on dialogue and characters, takes over the story. The interactions between these well established and well developed characters are the best part of this film. I probably would have loved to see a film about Spock and Bones being stuck in an elevator together, because they really stole the show for me.

Unfortunately, Pegg’s comedy and love for the characters could not save this film from the absolutely ridiculous plot.

Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that Krall (Idris Elba) is probably one of the worst villains of all time. All you really know about him for more than 3/4 of the movie is that he’s a bad guy and he doesn’t like people. That’s it. Don’t expect any kind of interesting plot or character development from him. He wants to kill people, and it’s up to the Enterprise crew to stop him. How does he plan on killing people? With his overwhelmingly superior tactical advantages and military strategy (which would be very doable and makes a lot of sense)? No, he has to use an ancient weapon that really isn’t that much more effective than anything else he has at his disposal. Also, when you finally do find out his backstory and motivation at the end of the film, you learn that [Potential Spoiler] it’s basically the exact same as Khan’s, who was the villain in the last film. [End Spoiler]

Speaking of the Enterprise, can we go a movie without it being destroyed and rebuilt? I’m only asking, because it really doesn’t seem like a big deal for the ship to be destroyed anymore.

 

Acting: 8.5/10

Like I said in the last section, the dialogue and character interaction is without a doubt the best part of this film. Everyone is really really great, and especially Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban) shine in this installment of the series.

Idris Elba tried his best, but it’s really hard to work with a character when you know almost nothing about their personality.

The newcomer, Jayla (Sofia Boutella; known for her role as the sword-leg-girl in Kingsman), is pretty good as well, but she doesn’t outshine anyone.

 

Visuals: 6/10

I had a hard time giving this section a score, because it is so inconsistent. So much time and detail went into practical effects like the makeup and costume departments, and especially into production design, but then every action sequence is mindless CGI that often fills up the entire screen. The two big space battle sequences are hard to watch because of this… well, and because of one other thing.

 

Music: 7/10

Most of the score is the same, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The thing I’m taking off most for is the plot’s use of music, which I will talk about in my X-Factor.

 

X-Factor: 3/10, Sabotage [Possible Spoiler]

I had to stop myself from blurting out, “you’ve got to be f****** kidding me” when the crew of the Enterprise bust out their boom box and blare “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys in order to defeat Krall’s army. Had it just been them wanting to sound bad-ass while riding into battle, I would have given the film bonus points probably, but the song had to be their opponent’s secret weakness.

This part of the film is going to be very polarizing for audiences. Many are going to think that it’s great and pretty entertaining, while others, such as myself, felt that it was more of an insult than anything else. It was something I expected from a kid’s movie about the “power of music,” not a somewhat mature Sci-Fi franchise.

 

Overall: 6.1/10

Star Trek Beyond has a little something for everyone. It’s characters and dialogue were very entertaining for myself, while “the rest of it” will appeal to a bunch of other movie-goers. If you’re looking for something similar to the past two films, then you’ll be disappointed. This film tries to be a lot more “fun” than the past two movies, and does not give as much attention to just having a good story. It’s not the greatest, but it is a relatively decent summer blockbuster compared to the rest of the very disappointing films we’ve been shown in the past 2 months.

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