Review: Star Trek Beyond

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Star Trek Beyond (beyond what, I don’t know), the 13th Star Trek film and the third under the watchful eye of J.J. Abrams, isn’t so much a feature film as an extended episode of a TV show. The script, by co-star Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, is very thin, creating no new story arcs, except for presumably adding a new crew member. It is fairly entertaining, though, and if you aren’t weary of the now fifty-year-old banter between Spock and McCoy, occasionally funny.

The Enterprise is in a Starbase, I guess a kind of very large artificial planet (called the Yorktown–space is so Earth-centric) when there is a distress signal. A ship has gone down on a planet inside a nebula, and only the Enterprise has the navigational skills to get in.

Of course there’s baddies down there, led by Idris Elba (wearing what looks like fifty pounds of makeup) who is after some doodad that will give him unlimited power. This seems to be the go-to plot nowadays, as it is the MCU and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Anyhoo, the Enterprise gets destroyed by what looks like a murmuration of starlings (just how many times has that happened? Can it really be called the Enterprise anymore when it seems every part has been replaced?) and the crew gets scattered on the planet. Some are captured by Elba, while Spock and McCoy are stuck together for hilarity reasons. A new character, Jaylah (played by dancer Sofia Boutella), who seems to have a face made of marzipan, is introduced (at the end she gets invited to join Starfleet, so I’m sure we’ll see her on the bridge of a brand new Enterprise in the next film).

What bothered me about Beyond is that it takes no real chances and relies on very old ideas. It doesn’t even crib from literature, like First Contact did with Moby Dick. It just kinds of lies there. I appreciate that director Justin Lin gives each of the main characters some screen time, but it doesn’t amount to much. I hate to speak ill of the dead, but Anton Yelchin just screams like a little girl and Pegg and Jung seemed to have given him many words starting with “V” so he could pronounce them as “Ws.”

I’m also confused about something. Early in the film, Spock is told that “Ambassador Spock” (a photo of Leonard Nimoy is used) has died. Now, isn’t that Spock in the future? Since the future hasn’t happened yet, how could they pinpoint his death? There’s a couple ways to react to this news: be bummed that you now know the date of your death, or be happy that whatever you do you’re not going to die for a long time. One of the problems of using time travel.

As I watched the film and realized they’ve really run out of ideas for this series, I thought why not remake the classic old episodes, like “City on the Edge of Forever,” “Shore Leave,” or “Amok Time?” They have better FX now (and better actors) and could make them more developed. Just an idea. They’d be better than this film.

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

8 responses »

  1. Easily the best of the Kelvin timeline, though not pound for pound as exciting as Trek ’09. It’s far less problematic than that film and league better than the wretched Into Darkness.

  2. “I’m also confused about something. Early in the film, Spock is told that “Ambassador Spock” (a photo of Leonard Nimoy is used) has died. Now, isn’t that Spock in the future? Since the future hasn’t happened yet, how could they pinpoint his death? There’s a couple ways to react to this news: be bummed that you now know the date of your death, or be happy that whatever you do you’re not going to die for a long time. One of the problems of using time travel.”

    No, Spock never went back to the future. After the 2009 film he went off to establish a new Vulcan homeworld.

  3. I’m still confused. In Into Darkness, didn’t Spock (Nimoy) communicate to his younger self and tell him about Kahn? Or are they two different people?

  4. Nimoy Spock came back in time during the events of Star Trek (2009) and never returned to his point of origin.

    He lives in the same year as his younger self (played by Quinto) until he dies sometime before the events of Star Trek Beyond. Nimoy was originally slated to have a large-ish role in the film.

  5. Wasn’t originally going to bother see this but was pleasantly surprised – not perfect but consistently entertaining and certainly the most likable of the reboot series. Perhaps that was because it didn’t try to the ultimate blockbuster like the previous film and just be a solid, pleasant film with some good morals and values holding it together

    I was quite negative about Chris Pine’s portrayal of Kirk in the first film but I enjoyed his role much more here. Perhaps in part because I’ve gotten used to him but I certainly think he’s grown into the role and omitted the obnoxious edges to his earlier portrayals.

    I had some minor issues with it – the villain was fairly weak and I was confused by a lot of little details about him at the end (how did he have his old Starfleet uniform ready to wear at the end?, how did Uhura work out who he really was?) and like all entries in this series there was too much chaotic action.

    But I enjoyed this one a fair bit.

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