After reading my esteemed colleagues review of ‘Star Trek Beyond’, I felt that I needed add in my two cents. After all, you’re not a Trekkie unless you have strong conflicting opinions, am I right?
His dislike for the movie stemmed from “ glaring plot holes, daft story sidelines, and special effects misfires” that lead to him scratching his head. Then he cited an unnecessary romance between Jayla… and someone. I’m not really sure, because as far as I know, there are only two insinuated romances: Spock and Uhura, and Sulu and his unnamed husband. Meanwhile, I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what he meant. The found justifications for most plot holes (except for the one where they put a giant, largely civilian space station on the edge of unexplored space) and all of the side story lines all interweaved to bring us to the final climax. As for the special effects, I never once noticed the special effects, which usually means they were seamless.
From what I read, what it really came down to is that he did not feel there were the depth and complexity the other two movies had.
It is undeniable that after the first two installments of the ‘Star Trek’ movies set in Kelvin universe I left the movie theater feeling energized, and excited. But, I also had some reservations about how I may have been too blinded by flashy effects and witty jokes to know that there was not really a whole lot of depth to those movies.
I’m not going to argue whether or not those movies have depth here. I’m on the fence with that, and when I dally with a side, it is never the same one for both movies. What I will say about ‘Star Trek Beyond’ is that there is no doubt that there is complexity, and it was all because it actually focused on the crew rather than Kirk.
When the original trailer was released, there was a great outcry about how we did not need another ‘Fast and the Furious’-like science fiction movie. At the time, I thought it was ridiculous to judge a movie on a 30-second clip, so I kept my nascent worries to myself. However, the fear of this being movie of lacking substance and blurring from one action scene to the next was completely unfounded. While yes, there are definitely scenes with Kirk unbelievably fighting aliens on a motorcycle (but that’s pretty ‘TOS’ if you really think about it), it did not detract from the theme of the movie.
This can best be illustrated in the destruction of the Enterprise, which is its longest action scene. As a long time Trekkie (since birth, I think), the shock of the Enterprise being destroyed is nothing new to me. I’ve seen it crash and explode far too many times for it to be shocking. It doesn’t affect me because I know they will just build another.
But in ‘Star Trek Beyond’, the obliteration of the Enterprise was heart-wrenching, dramatic, and as true to life as a sci-fi action movie could be. The surgical precision of the antagonists to disable the ship and the desperate actions our fair heroes take in the face of certain destruction in order to stall it, gave so much more substance to the movie than any action scene in the previous film did. Every crew member working against different impossible odds, and putting their lives at risk for one another was truly a thing to behold.
As I’ve mentioned here, the strength of ‘Star Trek Beyond’ is not relying on the Kirk and Spock Power Hour as in ‘Into Darkness’, but the unbreakable bond of the crew which was built during their three years in space together. While development is not there for every character (but let’s be frank, it wasn’t really always there in TOS either), we were really able to see their motivations and their strengths as they were split up into interesting pairings, and worked toward saving one another.
Essentially, widening the frame of focus to have characters acting independently of one another added much needed dimension to their group.
Bones and Spock team up to show us that they aren’t always fighting over Kirk’s scraps of affection, but friends in their own bitchy, bitchy way. We watch Sulu face the most harrowing situations (his death, and then the death of his husband and daughter) while calmly acting like a Star Fleet officer. You can see the fear consuming him in his eyes as pushes it away to do what it is necessary, such as possibly going down with the ship. Scott is out on his own befriending a new original character who are simply fantastic (Jayla was a very welcome addition to the cast). Meanwhile, the most unlikely pair of Kirk and Chekhov are running around be the action heroes. That’s right. You heard it. Chekhov. And it’s so endearing watching as he follows his captain around trying to guess at what crazy thing will happen next. They are all thrust into impossible situations, and watching each one approach it in their own unique ways was beautiful.
Having the unusual pairings, a story about a world that is alien to the Federation, and introducing new characters truly made this movie of substance beyond that of its preceding movies which largely relied on “Hey, remember how you loved [insert reference]?”. Rather than an homage to a great television series, it was an extension of it.
You can’t get much more substance than that, which is why I give it