I will do a more in-depth detailed review of Star Trek Beyond after we do our podcast but this is my basic thoughts.
If you have been following my youtube channel you will know I have been doing a series of podcast style videos with a friend of mine on the Star Trek movies. We just finished our 8th discussion on Into Darkness on Wednesday and will talk all about Star Trek Beyond this upcoming Wednesday so make sure you are subscribed to my channel. (I kept having some technical difficulties with some of the earlier podcasts but the last 3 have worked most of those out. Still I think they all worth listening too. I enjoyed doing them).
Anyway, the more I have talked about Star Trek the more into I have gotten. I still have yet to see an episode of the show (something I hope to soon remedy) but the movies are all very unique. There are some definite duds, particularly Star Trek V: the Final Frontier. However, even the duds feel like practically a different genre within the world of Star Trek. You have everything from a silly romp in Star Trek IV to horror elements in Star Trek II.
The recent reboots have focused more on making an action franchise instead of a science fiction story like you get in Star Trek: the Motion Picture and III and VI. But that new take is okay with me because like I said Star Trek has had many different looks to it. Why not action blockbuster?
The 2009 Star Trek is very entertaining but the cast was still getting into their roles and particularly Zachary Quinto as Spock fell flat for me. In this timeline of Star Trek Spock is more emotional and has a relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and his line readings just fell flat. The Eric Bana villain Nero is also pretty bland but that doesn’t really bother me.
Then we got Star Trek Into Darkness which is entertaining but tries to wedge in elements of Wrath of Khan that drag it down. Benedict Cumberbatch is great as Khan but he is constantly interrupted by secondary villains and the attempt to mirror events like the death of Spock in Wrath of Khan with the death of Kirk don’t work (especially because they wimp out and make him not dead minutes later). Anyway, it’s an okay film but not great.
Next is Star Trek Beyond and in my opinion it is the strongest of the three. I was thoroughly entertained by this movie from start to finish. It’s so well paced. The action is great. There are real moments of heart and the script is full of witty banter In a way it reminded me of a Marvel movie with that kind of energy and joy.
The story of Star Trek Beyond has our crew on year 3 of their 5 year mission to explore the galaxy. They are given a task from the Federation to help an alien named Kalara get her stranded ship. When they arrive close to the planet they are hit by a swarm of enemy ships that attack the Enterprise. This was a new type of space battle I hadn’t seen before and I thought was very exciting. The swarm feels dominating and I worried for our crew. They did not feel invincible like some superhero movies.
In order to escape, the crew has to leave in different pods which land in different areas of the new planet. This is my favorite thing about the movie because divided up in pairs you really get to spend time with characters like Chekhov, Bones, Scotty and Uhura which can sometimes get lost in the Star Trek films.
Also the dialogue between the pairings is very engaging and funny. The actors have grown accustomed to their roles at this point and it felt like groupings of friends instead of colleagues. The unusual pairing of Bones and Spock was particularly fun to see.
Scotty meets a woman named Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). I liked her character because she is strong and tough which we see all the time in movies, but she’s also insecure and fearful of what the villain Krall might do to her and the others. There’s a point where she breaks down over what happened to her father that is devastating. Boutella is great in the role. She also is smart and a problem solver who knows how to fight hard when she has to. Her and Simon Pegg’s Scotty have good chemistry together and made me smile.
Jaylah has been living on an old abandoned USS ship, the USS Franklin, which becomes central to the story. I liked the way the crew had to be creative in making the newly acquired ship work. I often wasn’t quite sure how they were going to get out of a situation and then they’d try something and we’d all see how it worked. This created a sense of anticipation and excitement to the action. The villain, Krall played by Idris Elba, has an attachment to the ship which explains why he took a turn towards his evil ways. The villain is maybe not the most creative one out there but Elba does a good job especially as he is less constricted by makeup. There have certainly been far worse villains in the history of Star Trek. That’s for sure.
I thought all of the action was terrific- both space and fist fighting. I also like that not every situation is solved in the typical space movie way particularly a final big space battle that was very cleverly handled.
There are also nice moments of heart. I particularly liked seeing Spock wrestle with the death of Spock Prime. And like I said, it feels like these characters are friends, giving the conflict more weight. We even get to end with a birthday party for Kirk and everyone celebrating with him. I guess you could say I liked spending time with these characters and their adventure.
I’m not going to pretend like I am the greatest Star Trek fan in the world but I have watched 9 of the movies and to me Star Trek Beyond had energy, warmth, humor and heart I expect in a Star Trek movie. It solidified this new cast as the modern Star Trek cast and gave me action in new unexpected ways. Most importantly it was a film about characters, which has always been the most important part of Star Trek. We even got 1 on 1 time or 2 on 2 time that we don’t normally get. It was great! I left with a huge smile on my face, having been thoroughly entertained.
If I am going to fault it there were a few instances of lazy CGI work and a couple places where it was pretty obvious a green screen was used. Also Krall could have been better written but I still like what we got. If I was being nitpicky some elements do feel derivative of Guardians of the Galaxy but repeated storylines don’t really bother me.
Overall Grade- A-
What side are you on with this latest Star Trek Beyond? Love it or hate it? Put in comments section.