So it’s been about a week since I got to see Star Trek Beyond and I’m still a little conflicted. I enjoyed the movie, but it didn’t stand out to me as Into Darkness or the first one. I feel like a really horrible theater experience tainted my views of it and I should give it another chance. I also saw it in 3D; there were good reviews of the 3D version and I had seen Into Darkness in 3D and wanted to have the same great experience as that movie. However, there were some issues with the 3D visualization at the start of the movie. Even after it was corrected, it never seemed to have the same level of depth as other 3D movies. Into Darkness was visually stunning and I expected the same from Beyond but it felt lack luster. I am hoping it was mostly an issue with the 3D effect issue at the theater. In addition to that though, for a nearly empty theater, the majority of the movie goers attending were rude, loud, and obnoxious. The girls behind me talked the entire film (like you would hear someone talking at a horror film; “Oh no man, don’t do that!”). Another person a few rows back snorted and sniffled the entire time and also decided the quiet lull about two-thirds of the way through needed to be accompanied by cracking his knuckles. Very slowly. I rarely had had bad experiences at this theater, even in a crowded movie, so I feel I should give it another chance and probably see it in 2D. If I do, I will report back.
For a quick spoiler-free overview, the movie was okay. As I mentioned it was not as visually appealing as Into Darkness was, but that may have been the 3D issue. The plot also seemed a tad rushed in spots. I understand it is an action, but things happened very suddenly. I think the biggest issue I had with this is the time span of the movie. It seemed to take place in the matter of a day or even just 8 hours or so. It was almost like a space version of an episode of 24. I also found the plot and some of the characters to be super predictable, which is hard to say much about without spoilers. I will go more in-depth to this criticism below. The best part of the movie by far was the new character we have seen a bit in trailers, Jaylah. She is a young kick ass female and the way she is treated in the movie, especially by Scotty, is great. I’m sure Simon Pegg had a lot to do with the creation of the character and how his own character deals with her and her gender, and it’s great. Now, this will be your one and only spoiler warning. Proceed to the next paragraph at your own risk!
The movie starts off on a bit of a light note, especially when compared to Into Darkness. Kirk is at a gathering of an alien race to present them with an ancient artifact from another race as a way to make peace. The aliens are unable and think the other race wants to eat them and charges Kirk, only to reveal they are small animal sized creatures. They actually look and act much like a bulldog. Kirk is beamed back (along with a few of the little creatures that pop up hear and there the rest of the movie) and the artifact is very carefully archived by Spock. While I did not think anything of it in the movie, looking back you can see that this was clear foreshadowing that this artifact would be an important item later on.
We go on to find out that the Enterprise is now in it’s third year of it’s five year mission and the crew, especially the upper officers, are starting to get a bit burnt out and stir crazy. Queue the giant space station, Yorktown, stop to re-supply. There is talk about how new and advanced the station is, another foreshadowing that something bad will happen here. While here, Spock is greeted by some fellow Vulcans who tell him the horrible news; Ambassador Spock has passed away. I felt this was a touching tribute to Leonard Nimoy and a great way to mention his passing in the movie. In the meantime, Kirk is meeting with Commodore Paris about applying for an Admiral position and potentially leaving the Enterprise for essentially a desk job.
Now is where the adventure starts. A pod shows up on the stations alerts and they allow it to land. A distressed alien is in the escape pod saying that her crew crash landed on this planet just on the other side of the nebula and she needs a ship to come and rescue them. This is where I started to feel it was predictable. The way the character is introduced, I don’t believe her. She feels suspicious to me from the get go, especially since they have to use a translator. No one else seems suspicious though, so the crew of the Enterprise sets off with the alien to help her save her crew.
Off through the creepy nebula they go to help this poor innocent scientist (so the alien claimed). On the way through the nebula, Uhura makes the comment that the density and such of the nebula will cut off communication with Yorktown. That’s rule number one of knowing all hell is about to break lose. This is where the timing seems off to me as well. They go from the space station to the planet in a matter of minutes on screen. Clearly they cannot use the hyper drive in the nebula, but there is no real indication that it takes a significant amount of time. It just felt like they arrived to quickly. Once they arrive at the planet, the alien is starting to act a bit funny. To me, she seemed nervous, like something was about to happen, and sure enough it did.
Out of no where a swarm of ships appears and begins it’s attack. This is a physical attack. The ships act like darts, or since they are later referred to as bees, stingers, and penetrate the ships hull. They attack the warp engines and cut them off as many of the ships stick into the enterprise and the enemies breach the hull. The design of these ships is quite interesting to me as they work like a wedge to pry open the ship to allow it’s contents out. Bones and Spock go off to help with the assault and this is where Spock sees the biggest baddie, Krall, take the artifact from earlier out of storage and he informs Kirk who immediately tasks himself with going after Krall and puts Sulu in charge. Scotty is forced to evaluate early and hijacks one of the Enterprises own torpedos and heads toward the planet. Spock and Bones steal and enemy ship, as they have no other way to escape.
During his fight with Krall, it is ordered to “slit the throat” of the Enterprise, since they have gotten some engines working. The enemy ships attack the Enterprise at the neck to attempt to separate the satellite from the rest of the ship. Kirk orders for people to evaluate in the escape pods and goes to try and manually release the dish from the rest of the ship, but encounters Krall again. Uhura goes to help because he is taking to long and sacrifices herself for Kirk by releasing the dish and trapping herself with Krall.
With the dish now detached, most of the crew has escaped in pods, only to be quickly captured by the enemy fleet. Kirk, Chekhov, and the alien are the last to get out on pods and avoid capture. As they plummet toward the planet, we see the once glorious Enterprise enter the planets atmosphere and start to burn and eventually crash into the planet. I feel like this should have had a great emotion attached to it, but it didn’t. The visuals were not spectualar and I just didn’t feel the way Kirk should have felt; broken, devastated, heartache.
On the planet, Scotty is the first one see after they have crash landed. He comes across another escape pod, but no one is in it and in come some alien thugs. Enter Jaylah to the rescue! She comes in and kicks some alien thug ass and moves on like nothing happened. She is scavenging the pod for parts. Scotty introduces himself as an engineer and tries to explain what it is. She tells him she KNOWS what an engineer is and that she learned his language in her house. She then asks him to come back to help her fix her house. While odd phrasing, we soon find out that her house is a crashed starfleet ship, the U.S.S. Franklin, that went missing centuries ago.
Kirk, Chekhov, and the alien crash land near each other. Kirk confronts the alien, suspecting her of being a traitor, but they get more lies. She “admits” that her crew was taken by Krall and she was sent to the space station to lure them in. This still seems suspicious to me, and thankful we find out later that Kirk thought so too. How would they know that Yorktown is there when there are communication issues? They decide to head to the crashed Enterprise and try to detect where the rest of the crew are being held. They are able to find the coordinates of the rest of the crew and Kirk takes the alien to retrieve something in another part of the ship. He mentions hiding the artifact and the alien attacks him and calls for back up, revealing that she was working with Krall the entire time. Thankfully Chekhov is there to help out and a fight and chase ensue. They turn on the thrusters of the ship to get away and destroy the Enterprise even more. This seemed unnecessary and seemed a slight lack of respect for the ship. Of course they get away, kill the bad guys, and go off in search of the rest of the crew. However, they end up becoming ensnared on one of Jaylah’s traps and joining her and Scotty on the Franklin.
Spock and Bones crash land in the enemy ship elsewhere on the planet. Spock is injured, but Bones is able to help him out with little trouble and they stumble across an ancient cave that they believe is linked to the artifact. It felt like this cave should have had more significance or been able to give them information on the artifact, but it didn’t. The only information they learned is that the artifact came from this planet. Which seems like unimportant information. As they are searching for others, they are corned by the enemy, but never fear! Scotty found them somehow and was able to beam them to the Franklin. Very convenient.
With the gang all back together, we have another convenient, and unintentionally creepy, way to find the rest of the crew. The necklace Spock gave to Uhura contains a Vulcan element that can be traced. Bone’s calls him out on giving his girlfriend a tracker, to which Spock responds that was not his intention. They spend some time formulating a plan to get them out.
Meanwhile at the enemy camp, Uhura and Sulu are able to sneak out of the prison thanks to Keenser. Keenser is a very underrated character and I wish we had gotten to see more of him this movie. However, he happens to have a a pretty gnarly cold which causes him to sneeze acid. Who knew acid snot could help in a jail break. Sulu and Uhura are able to find a computer system and find out that Krall has been hacking into the Yorktown database for ages and has a lot of what appears to be Starfleet equipment. For me, I found it strange that he is able to get signals to the space station, but Starfleet has not detected them. They attempt to send a signal to be rescued, but Krall suspected them and changed their coordinates. He takes them to a chamber and shows off his secrete ability, that he can suck the life out of people. He hints that he is many lifetimes old and is very anti-starfleet. Taking them back to the holding area, he threatens Sulu’s life if they do not turn over the artifact. The crew member that Kirk hid it with caves and she unfolds her weird head fingers to give over the device. Good hiding spot, poor choice of someone who can keep a secret.
Krall takes Uhura and the head-finger alien on a little walk. He’s trying to convince Uhura that Starfleet is bad and hope is pointless and what they really need is war. Without war, they are weak. He explains the artifact, which is an ancient weapon that was destoryed because it was too powerful. However, it doesn’t seem as all powerful as he claims. He demonstrates on the crew member that give it up. It acts as a cloud of nanobots that consume any organic matter they come in contact with.
While he is showing off to Uhura, Kirk and the rest implement their plan. He speeds in on a motorcyle (a nice touch to the first movie) and Jaylah beam in Bones and Spock. The last two set off to find the crew and Jaylah goes off to fight and help Kirk with the distraction. She ends up fighting the enemy that had killed her family and it seemed like a pointless fight scene. She didn’t beat him and nothing was really resolved by it. She was super kickass, it just seemed irrelevant to the plot. Spock finds out that Uhura is not with the rest of the crew and tries to find her, but she ends up saving him from a bad guy. All of the crew are beamed back to the Franklin and last minute Kirk and Jaylah are beamed back as well. Unfortunately, Krall has escaped and already taken off for Yorktown.
Here is where my major issue with the time is. Krall has had a 20 minute or more head star. In that time, the crew is able to get the Franklin up and running, take off, and pretty much catch up with him after traversing a very rocky nebula. While it is pretty cool they were able to get it running and it proves that Jaylah did a great job getting the shit together and functional, it just seemed like it was asking too much.
Once they catch up, Bones and Spock beam onto an enemy ship to try and figure out how to stop them. They realize they have a swarm programming and that a high frequency will disrupt their programming. The high frequency they use? Classical music found on the Franklin, also known as Sabatoge by the Beastie Boys. Once the ship blasts the “frequency”, nearby ships start to explode (assuming they are running into each other). The frequency is transmitted to the station and they blast it causing more chaos. This part was quite enjoyable and funny, one because of the song choice, two because it is deemed classical music, and three kill shit with music!
All but three ships are destroyed and they manage to enter the station. At this point, Uhura realizes (based on her communications training) that Krall was the captain of the Franklin. They find his old captains logs and he talks about how Starfleet abandoned him and about some ancient technology that would allow him to live forever, along with change his appearance. They are able to stop the ships after a dramatic chase, but the fight isn’t over yet. They go off searching for Krall and whatever new appearance he may have. Krall is headed to the central air vent to release the weapon and destroy the station and Kirk takes after him. There is some weird gravity, some scuffle, but Kirk causes Krall and the weapon to get sucked out into space. Kirk is about to be sucked out as well but Bones and Spock are still in an enemy ship and catch Kirk before his demise.
There is much celebrating! Bones throws Kirk a birthday party, Kirk decides to stay with the Enterprise, Spock gets back with Uhura and decides to stay as well. We also see the new ship being built that they will continue their mission on.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad movie. The visuals left something to be desired, and there were some minor plot issues, but there were things I did like. There was a very subtle nod that Sulu is gay when he met up with his husband and daughter at Yorktown. It was easily missed but the look Kirk gave him, of ultimately wanting that kind of loving relationship and family helped to show that it was a completely normal thing. I also loved the interactions between Bones and Spock. In past movies, Spock and Kirk are the ones to go on adventures, but Bones and Spock are unwillingly paired over and over. It’s great to see that two people who don’t really like each other can work well together, despite their issues. I also love Bones and his realistic look on things. As I mentioned earlier, Keenser is great, I loved the acid snot. Jaylah rocked through out the movie, I really enjoyed her character and I especially loved how Scotty interacts with her. He instantly accepts her and never thinks she isn’t capable. Lastly, there was a very simple after credits tribute to both Leonard Nimoy and Anton. It was a decent movie and I’d like to give it another shot to see if my criticisms were more from being annoyed with the people in the theater and causing me to be grumpy and more harsh. For now, it gets 3.5 Enterprises out of 5.