The interesting part about Star Trek Beyond is that the movie tries very hard to be as close to the original 1960s series in tone and visual style, from the setting of the crash site where the crew has to pick up the pieces and find their way back home to numerous references to the Prime timeline and the new timeline resulting from the face off against the rogue Romulan in the debut of JJ Abrams Star Trek in 2009.
Hard as it tries it succeeds in many instances to carry the viewer away in its own world and yet it fails to sweep us completely on our feet as the story feels somewhat rushed and unpolished. Kinda like the scene in which the destroyed ship is rebuilt for our crew to ride again into the sunset?
I loved the fact that the enemy in this movie reminds us of the Vin Diesel sci-fi adventure Pitch Black which depicted alien creatures that attack in swarm-like formations. Star Trek Beyond is even more fantastic depicting the outcome. For a few seconds I also found myself inside another sci-fi film that also relied on the premise of an intelligent, sentient race that attacks in swarm formations - from the novel made into film, Ender's Game
We get some highly entertaining interactions between the bridge crew members throughout this movie including the smooching Uhura, the always critical and sharp witted Bones, the bumbling, frazzled yet life-saving "Montgomery Scotty" and the always bewildered and excitable Chekov. For all the hype about Sulu, there isnt that much for him to do in this movie and for all of the publicity about the character being gay, there is only one fleeting scene that almost goes unnoticed unless you view the film twice, whereby a male companion puts his hand on Sulu's back as they walk away. It's almost not there and had it not been for all the hype and pre-release publicity the viewer may have easily interpreted the gesture as that between friends.
Star Trek Beyond introduces us to two new female aliens, one of which turns out to be the reason the Enterprise gets to have its ... surprise. Sofia Boutella as Jaylah is one of the bright and fun parts of the film and one of those rare instances in which a guest star slips comfortably in with the regulars on the bridge.
What is really irritating is that Boutellah's character reminds so much of Rey (Daisy Ridley), with her long rod/weapon which seems to have been a carry over from the other movie Abrams helmed, Star Wars The Force Awakens
. A little originality with the props would have made Beyond go further.
And we have a distinct weapons and armament problem with Star Trek. It isn't just Beyond, this flaw exists throughout the entire family of the Star Trek series and universe. Here we are in the 23rd Century and Beyond, a deep space faring species that has weathered a full-scale nuclear holocaust on our own planet and we venture forth into the unknown, cut off from any possible help armed mostly with pee-shooting flashlight pistols. Enterprise is boarded? Break out the heavy weapons boys, only they are nothing more than the handheld phasers with oversized fancy shoulder stock and scopes. The rifles themselves do not shoot nor deliver any more deadlier blasts that the handheld flashlights. And where are the concussion grenades? Where are the heavy shoulder launched surface to surface missiles? Come on Trek, the audience is weaned on video games, first shooter and third shooter games, most of the viewers that enjoy sci-fi are battle-hardened troopers that spend hours in virtual trenches and log entire days each month in combat mode
Has any of the producers seen the Brad Pitt vehicle, the World War II movie Fury? Has anyone stopped a second to contemplate the weapons on the tank in Fury are shown to be as lethal as the heavy non-stop hand held canons that the Terminators
use in the original movie The Terminator? These are weapons that cut people into pieces as if they were made of butter - they fire with such speed and deadly results - and they are relics of World War II. How is it our species ventures into the deep unknown, can accidentally bring back any alien race in tow after a conflict in deep space that can wreak havoc on our solar system and the crew is primarily equipped with such feeble hand held weapons? This entire premise is out of time and out of whack. It may have been overlooked during the 1960s in favor of the Peace movement but it looks completely ridiculous on screen when audiences have had a taste of recent reincarnations of World War II and are regular players with some of the most violent video games to emerge on the market.
Star Trek Beyond and the manner in which the escape life pods are ill equipped made me squirm in my seat. These are lifeboats that should be equipped for survival against hostile scenarios. So where are the deadly devastating weapons from one of the most violent species in the universe?!!! Scotty has none and is scrounging for a nice rock to throw at the aliens. I had to smother a laugh at this scene. Not because it was funny, it just struck me how ridiculous the movie is at that point.
Did anyone forget that a mining vessel with a Romulan Captain can wipe out a planet with a small bomb thrown inside a deep well? Sure Nero is from the future but not the real distant future since his opponent was Spock from the Prime timeline.
And not to add one more complaint to an otherwise highly entertaining film, but blowing up the Enterprise in each movie as a dramatic device and as means of showcasing special effects is growing thin. The visual artists responsible for storyboarding the script before production starts need to craft another plot device to make the audience swoon in disbelief at the drama and danger of outer space besides destroying the lone vessel Enterprise, presently bestowed with an intergalactic record for being wiped out and rebuilt.
In spite of all of these concerns and weaknesses Star Trek Beyond remains a solid entertainment piece, especially if you are a fan of the original series, a new Millennium kid that finds reliving an earlier era of the age of science fiction cool. However I suspect older audiences may find this installment a little short on polish, if not substance.
There are a couple more surprises this film holds up its sleeve for moviegoers, we think the less they know the more fun it could be.
And to be fair there are some spectacular scenes of The Enterprise going down
that will make you feel as if you are onboard and living the frightening experience. I believe the Star Trek Beyond team owes a nod of appreciation to Director James Cameron and the high benchmark set with his movie, Titanic (1997).
As this turns out to be the year of reliving nostalgia in science fiction (Star Wars The Force Awakens and Star Trek Beyond), I am waiting on the third piece of the trilogy, Star Wars Rogue One in December and hoping it will exceed the expectations already built up by the teasers.
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