Trekathon 739: Star Trek Beyond (MOV)

A rescue mission goes badly wrong.

Spoiler warning for the new movie. See it first, then read on.

Far closer to what Star Trek should be than the first two Kelvin-verse movies, but still a few aspects where it’s very clear that this is a complete reboot, and little respect is being paid to the history of the franchise.

Unlike the past two movies I felt this one was trying to be about something, with a coherent philosophical theme. In this instance, unity versus individualism. Pretty basic stuff, sure, but more than most of the movies. A lot of the distance in the characterisation from the original timeline is gone now as well, with Bones, Spock and Kirk mainly acting as they ‘should’.

The story itself is well put together, and unlike Into Darkness isn’t a retread of previous plots. The story goes in its own direction, and the new characters work well. Jaylah in particular was well done, although ultimately underused (and largely MIA for the last 20 minutes or so). Idris Elba’s Krall is mainly a scenery chewing exercise, with a couple of moments of subtlety that show there could have been more. Other than the main three Uhura gets a few good moments, but the rest of the main cast are pretty lightly served.

The big objection I had in the show was the Yorktown Space Station. The station is easily a hundred times bigger than any space station seen on Star Trek at any point prior to this. While it’s a cool set piece, and is used to good effect in the show, it just feels like something visiting from another time line, not the Star Trek universe of prior to 2009. There are a couple of smaller discordant notes – for instance, that’s not how we’ve ever seen a universal translator work before, and why is it only the one alien who needs that effect?

But against this there were also a lot of little callbacks and details that showed a greater love for Star Trek than before.

Overall I’m going to rate this as the best of the three reboot movies, and just a nose ahead of Star Trek IV. Things are heading in the right direction.

A few quick hits:

– The Leonard Nimoy tribute was nicely done – they used it to build the plot, but didn’t beat us over the head with it.

– Some good lines, like Kirk’s complaint about things becoming ‘a little episodic’. And I like the sentiment behind ‘if I mess up I don’t want it to be just my fault’.

– Generally speaking Commodores (one grade above Captain) don’t make decisions about promotion to Vice Admiral (three grades above Captain).

– Not only was there a reference to the giant space hand from ‘Who Mourns for Adonais’, it actually featured in the end credits sequence.

– I understand that Spock wants to contribute to the repopulation of New Vulcan, but given that he’s a guy (and a Vulcan) I would have thought sperm donation would suffice.

– I hated the use of ‘Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys when it was in the trailer, but the movie well and truly earns the moment. All is forgiven.

– There’s a clever little motif through the music, where there’s often a repeated pair of notes (B and F) harking back to the opening of the TOS credits, which is only resolved fully at the end credits.

– In lasting proof that I am a tragic Star Trek nerd – the building of the Enterprise A combined with the ‘these are the voyages’ narration gave me goosebumps.

– And finally one I missed – ‘966 days into the mission’ is a coded reference to the September 1966 premiere.

739 down. And Star Trek is back on TV next year, Yay! And it’s entirely possible I’ll write something else on this blog before then too.