Review: Star Trek Beyond

For the life of me, I cannot recall the vast majority of Star Trek or Star Trek Into Darkness. I have seen both all the way through, but the general plot of each escape me (though I remember more of Star Trek Into Darkness mainly thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch). These two movies were both entertaining and acceptable, but at their cores, they were mediocre films. Star Trek Beyond essentially follows the trend.

 

Now I understand that I’m going to be the rain on the parade here, because from what I’ve gathered from the quick overview of opinions on this movie, everybody seems to love it.

I am so terribly sorry guys, but I do not get what the hype is about. I understand that the movie did not suck, and good for them, but this movie was far from anything exceptional.

 

I am finding it exceedingly hard to articulate my problems with this movie without spoiling the entire thing, so I am issuing a Spoiler Warning for the entire review except for the last paragraph. If you have seen the movie or have no interest in seeing it, feel free to read my ramblings. Otherwise, just skip to the last paragraph.

 

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<Spoilers>

Of course, I did not hate everything about this movie; the majority of the content was mediocre, not terrible. But anything that was better than average in this movie all came from the interactions between Spock and McCoy. Their relationship was the only one that seemed to somewhat develop in this movie. And I also got a kick out of them calling The Beastie Boys “classical music”. Everything else just towed the line of averageness.

There was some… slightly… unique things here and there…

Uhura sacrifices herself for Kirk (which was pointless in the grand scheme of things; I’ll get back to that later),

Sulu turns out to be gay (but I don’t really count relationships as true character development unless they define how characters react to things, which wasn’t the case with Sulu),

and Spock and Uhura are having relationship issues (also turns out to be pointless).

 

In the end, this movie gives you nothing new to chew on. Checkov and Scotty really do not do anything that changes themselves or the story detrimentally. Kirk’s character is not explored in any way that hasn’t been done in the first two movies.

 

The only new things they do introduce into the movie are protagonist Jayla and antagonist Krall.

 

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Idris Elba as Krall was an absolute waste. I am going to forget his character in less than a week. I did not think there could be a more bland 2016 summer villain than Apocalypse, but Beyond somehow managed to pull it off. Admittedly, Krall’s motivations have a bit more meat on their bones than “wants to conquer the world”, but it is not by much.

Basically, he’s been disenfranchised by the army and the universal federation, so he wants to build an ancient weapon that will destroy countless lives and therefore break the unity in diversity that has been established in the universe. But not only has this arc been done a hundred different times in various forms in other movies, but they decided to do it with a villain whose only defining trait is that he’s a bad guy and that he’s been hurt by the system.

 

 

On top of this, Krall’s effect on the movie is constantly sabotaged by just how inconsequential everything in the movie is. The movie’s inconsequentiality is because of two majors factors:

  1. When you only kill off characters that have never been developed, then you might as well not kill anyone off at all. Basically, anybody who dies in this movie is just a Red Shirt who you only get introduced to to see them bite it. But how can I feel anything for these characters if I know that the only purpose they serve in this movie is to have them die? Am I saying that this movie should have killed off somebody important? Not necessarily, but when you want the audience to feel something when people get massacred, it would not hurt if the audience actually cared about the people getting massacred. There is no risk in killing off people you don’t care about, ESPECIALLY if it is painfully obvious that everyone you SHOULD care about will make it out okay.
  2. When you have characters say that something is impossible, and then Kirk goes and does it anyway with no consequences, then you might as well make a movie with a perpetual subtitle that says “The good guys win at the end and nobody dies” (because it’s the same damn thing either way). When they did this the first time, I thought it was cliche but acceptable. When they did it the fifth time, I found it completely unbearable.

So because there is no loss or no consequences, and this is paired up with the villain being completely character-less, then what on earth is the point in pretending like any of these invincible characters are in any sort of peril??? When the Enterprise gets decimated during the second act of the movie, I couldn’t feel anything because I had an inkling that everybody that mattered was going to make it out fine and they would probably make a new ship that looked exactly like the Enterprise in the end (and sure enough…).

 

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There’s nothing fascinating about Jayla either. She also makes it out okay and she joins the Federation in the end (both of which I predicted would happen).

 

Scotty and Kirk both have these scenes where they monologue something inspirational that’s supposed to be a theme for the movie. Both of these scenes were mind-numbingly cliche.

Jayla decides she’s not going to go help fight Krall and Scotty says something along the lines of “You’re part of something bigger now.” and “Overcome your fears.” And all I could think was, “I’ve seen this before a hundred times.”

But that’s nothing compared to Kirk when he’s facing down Krall (who for some reason became somewhat human again, and for some reason Uhura was able to point out Idris Elba on camera footage and say “that’s Krall” even though Uhura never saw Krall as anything but an alien) and Krall is basically bemoaning humanity and its feeble quest for unity, and Kirk says, “Maybe you’re underestimating humanity.” This whole movie is just cliche and unexceptional.

 

Also, did the movie realize when they used their Dues-Ex-Machina Beastie Boys song, and when they cut out massive swaths of the song, that it would take people out of the movie that listen to “Sabotage” frequently like I do?

 

So in the end, nothing changes. Everybody’s alive. Nobody has experienced anything life changing. Spock and Uhura are basically back together. Kirk kept his position as a ship captain because sequels. The Enterprise has been recreated. The bad guy dies without doing any sort of significant damage. And if they do make another sequel, ten bucks says you could basically watch it without watching Beyond and you wouldn’t miss one thing.

 

</Spoilers>

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So in the end, is this a bad movie? No. The acting isn’t terrible, the script isn’t painful, and the animation and CGI is actually pretty stellar throughout. But there is nothing substantial that this movie has to offer in the slightest. The entire time, I felt like I was watching a movie that was put together out of obligation. There is no soul in this movie. If you want to go to the theatre to be entertained, then Star Trek Beyond is a very viable choice, but if you’re looking for a new movie that’s actually a new movie, then skip this one, and I’m giving this movie a 5 out of 10.

 

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