Another Sci-Fi Film

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Star Trek has been a staple in my life for a very long time. At a young age I was introduced to the Original series but it wasn’t until Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) came along did I fell in love the show and the concepts. I avidly watched 2 other iterations of the show (I just could not get into Enterprise), the 6 Original series films, and the 4 TNG films. They weren’t always the greatest but they were all undeniably Star Trek.

This week I went to see the third movie is the Star Trek reboot, Star Trek Beyond. It is a good, fun, action, sci-fi film but one thing that has to be noted is that it is not Star Trek.

Chris Pine, Zachary Qunito, and Karl Urban, are back as Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, as the Enterprise continues its 5 year mission into deep space to explore strange new world, new civilizations, to…you know the rest. It has been 3 and half years and the captain is feeling a little untethered. They reach their newest destination, a massive new space station that the Federation has built. While there a ship in distress asks for help. In their attempt to help they encounter a ruthless enemy hell bent on destroying the Federation.

Star Trek Beyond, as with Star Trek Into Darkness, is a great movie. It is fun with a good story, some character development, and lots of action. It is a big screen film meant to draw viewers out of their homes and into theatres. I must admit that it is very much worth it, just for the spectacle of it all. It is grand, colourful, and beautifully shot.

The actors are better embodying the characters they are portraying. This is especially true in Karl Urban’s case. He plays the crotchety and inadvertently funny Bones McCoy perfectly. He is doing DeForest Kelley justice with his gruff voice, perpetually unhappy expression, and bewilderment at the ridiculous plans being hatched.

I have to mention the late Anton Yelchin. A great actor and seemingly great person gone too soon in a very tragic way. His Chekov has been spot on from the moment he came on screen in Star Trek (2009). He is sparsely used in this movie but it is a character that, even though part of the main cast, was often on the sidelines. Unless someone is looking for “new-clear wessels”. I do wish his role was bigger in this film, he deserves it. I would be saying that even if he were alive.

We are introduced to a new character Jaylah played by Sofia Boutella. She is a fun character who has some cool moves when fighting but there isn’t much there. I don’t know if you will see her in future films but they have left that a possibility.

Idris Elba plays the bad guy, Krall. He is cruel, menacing, and unrecognizable. Even after seeing all the trailers, I didn’t even know he was in the movie until I saw him on the Tonight Show. This is not the first movie where he has played the antagonist and he does do it well.

I am still not happy with Zoe Saldana as Uhura but I am slowly coming to terms with that. She is like Halle Berry as Storm. She just doesn’t embody the character very well, coming across kind of weak and lackluster, but after a few films you just live with it.

Everyone else did their jobs as their respective characters. They didn’t do anything to write home about but they did a good enough job that it was not distracting.

The writing for the film is good. There is a lot of witty banter and good exchanges. None of it seemed wasted or unnecessary. They made sure that characters were different, more mature and even weary after this long time in  deep space. It worked to show the progression of time and how circumstances can change people. I loved the fact that they wrote the death of future Spock, Leonard Nimoy, into this story line. It wasn’t made a spectacle, it was very small, simple, but noted, and makes an impression on the characters of this new Star Trek family. There was also a post credit note that said,

“In loving memory of Leonard Nimoy.”

Which was followed by,

“For Anton.”

Those 2 simple sentiments were a little more emotional than I expected them to be.

Even though I have a lot of good things to say about this movie it is far from perfect. There are several plot holes that just make no sense. Like if a ship can come through the nebula then why didn’t Krall get off the planet? That changes the WHOLE movie. It cuts the 2 hour run time to about 15 minutes, tops. Also something that, even though somewhat enjoyable, drove me crazy was the use of some Public Enemy and Beastie Boys. At that time this music would have been around 2 hundred years old. This is the current equivalent of a 30 year old blasting Bach as they cruise the strip. I am sure it is not unheard of but it would still be considered anachronistic.

I still maintain the fact that it is not a Star Trek film. The reason I say that is because there is too much of a focus on the action instead of the diplomacy.

Action has always been part of the Star Trek Universe, I will never deny that. But the thing that separated Star Trek, the movies and TV shows, is that it focused more on diplomacy, philosophy, and pure gumption. It was about out witting the enemy or making that enemy your friend by finding common ground. This movie was more about blowing up stuff than anything else. There was no real talk or quest for understanding between the Krall and Kirk. The only talk that happened was between Uhura and Krall and it was a lot of threats and propagandic statements.

This story could have been any sci-fi movie. A bunch of new characters in a new world with fancy spaceships and some sort of intergalactic organization  and it would have been just as good. And that is a big problem when you are tying it to an iconic franchise like Star Trek. This makes fans unhappy. It makes them feel forgotten and generally disappointed.

But studios are appeasing the masses with a film like this. It isn’t deep or complex, it is a good guy, a bad guy, and some stuff happens. This works in the studio’s favour as this movie is making a ridiculous amount of money but placating to the masses dumbs down films. It makes them more mindless and less noteworthy. The whole point of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of Star Trek was for it to be noteworthy. It would tackle tough issues in the veil of this distant future. Even some fans seemed to be missing that point as people were up in arms about Sulu being gay. No I don’t think it was necessary but in a future where there is peace and acceptance of all lifestyles it wasn’t a big deal to me.

I am very much about looking at a film at face value. And as a stand alone film Star Trek Beyond is a good movie. It isn’t great or fantastic but you will have a good time watching it. There is some cool futuristic stuff, space battles, and you will get a few good laughs out of it. But, as a Star Trek fan though, I was a bit disappointed.

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1 Comment

Nel

#poorzoe – Zoe Saldana isn’t necessarily suffering from a lack of trying within the context of her role. She just simply begs the question, “Why is Zoe Saldana?” every time she is on screen up to and including her slaughterous take on the iconic Nina Simone with full blackface (or in her case an insulting tanned look). So it’s really a cumulative effect of an underwritten role plus an actor who isn’t very good to begin with. Full points awarded for being overshadowed by the kickass ‘Jaylah’

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