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Star Trek Beyond - Film Review

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Published July 31st 2016
Review Contains Minor Plot Spoilers
I still think it's weird that we live in a world where the same folks are producing Star Wars and Star Trek films. At the very least, The Force Awakens and Star Trek (2009) had the same director attached—Sir Jar Jar Abrams [sic]. It's blasphemy! The SF lines are blurring into disorienting lens flares.

Imagine if Marvel/Disney struck a deal with DC and started making Batman films. It's weird. It's wrong. It's blasphemous, man.

Since when did phasers fire energy bolts, rather than focused beams?

Alright, alright. We're jumping ahead a bit. Let's slow down to impulse five.

The Star Wars and Star Trek Dilemma

If you haven't figured it out already, I have passionate opinions about how rival creative industries should conduct themselves. I'm not saying that you can't be a trekkie if you're a Star Wars fan (I enjoy both escapades). I also don't mind too much if the same writers, directors and actors get involved in Star Wars and Star Trek productions so long as each respective intellectual property retains its essence.

And that's the crux of this dilemma. What is the essence of Star Trek? My understanding is that Star Trek is an optimistic vision of the future that is informed by science, speculation. Starfleet is a galactic United Nations that explores strange new worlds. The emphasis here is on exploration and problem solving. We also have some memorable characters from the original TV run that personify the show's ideals.

Star Wars, on the other hand, is an action fantasy set in the past. This is classic space opera where there is good, evil and explosions. Here it's all about the quest, the adventure and the striking visuals.

My concern is that these two juggernauts of popular culture may eventually become one and the same. And that would be catastrophic; a homogenised genre scarcely bears thinking about.

So far, there are subtle changes in the new Trek that share some disturbing similarities to the action and fantasy aspects of Star Wars. I refer specifically to how trekkie phasers are more like Star Wars blasters. To some, this observation is trivial. My point is that there are a lot of subtle changes and they influence everything from plot to character to music.

Star Trek XIII

Beyond is the third entry of the more recent soft reboot and it is, surprisingly, better than the last two. Is that a good thing? Yes.

Simon Pegg co-wrote this screenplay and you can really tell because he steals a lot of the good lines for his entertaining portrayal as the ship's chief engineer.

Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) docks the USS Enterprise at this huge Federation space station and we all marvel at the CG imagery. Probably one of the best parts of the film is enjoying the fictitious scenery. The Enterprise crew are three years into their five-year exploration mission and Kirk quips that their adventures feel episodic.

Bones (Karl Urban) nails his role as the ship's sardonic doctor and pairs well with the practical and logical Spock (Zachary Quinto). The movie even addresses the late Leonard Nimoy perfectly.

We see a bad romance retconned from the outset, plenty of nerdy references and more than our fair share of action. The poor Enterprise is subject to an attack in unchartered space and our ensemble cast abandon ship, crash land on a remote planet and must work together to do the thing that they need to do.

We meet some fresh faces, too, which is, uh, refreshing. Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) is a feisty pale alien with a few high-tech tricks to flaunt.

And a shout out to the late Anton Yelchin for his endearing performance as the infectiously likeable Ensign Chekov.

I'm Not a Doctor, Jim, I'm a Plot Device

The villain sucks in Beyond. Sadly, characterisation for the big bad is a massive miss. It is such a shame, too, because all we needed was a slightly better shred of motivation and a more convincing end game for a more satisfying conclusion.

The ending felt dumb as a result of this.

Characterisation and good storytelling in general was compromised by gratuitous action sequences and impressive set pieces. I hope eye candy over thoughtful writing doesn't set a precedent for the future of this franchise.
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Why? It's better than the last two ...
Your Comment
All good points. My husband and I love both Star Wars and Star Trek. I have enjoyed the latest Star Trek offerings as the characters have returned to the rather tongue in cheek style of the original series. But you are right, it would be a shame to see the two merge and become less distinclty themselves.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|5994) 597 days ago
I agree with your observations but regardless, enjoyed the escape from reality and went along for the ride. ..and yes, the end was a bit dumb with a few "how did he...?" questions resulting.
by ersat (score: 0|6) 598 days ago
Someone must have told them to remove the lens flares from the first one and now on every action sequence, the screen became darker than my soul.
by espad (score: 0|0) 597 days ago
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