The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Star Trek Beyond

beyond1Star Trek Beyond (2016) is entertaining, it’s just really forgettable.  This movie is maybe comparable to Star Trek Insurrection or Star Trek Nemesis because it’s a one-shot deal, except Beyond has better effects. My biggest complaint is that Star Trek is now an action-comedy movie series, instead of an exploration of science fiction, and Beyond has more jokes and one-liners than any other Star Trek movie ever made.  Some of them are alright, but the humor lessens the threat and completely removes the tension.  

Star Trek Beyond is retro and feels old-fashioned, which is what they were going for, but most of the Star Trek elements are now only cogs in a larger mechanic.  I feel the characters are more imitational than in previous installments, but the feel is about the same. The sets and the make-up are overblown and overdone.  The villains are especially one-dimensional and lack real motivation.  Idris Elba has even less of a character than Benedict Cumberbun, and his dialogue delivery is just as bad.  

I could go on and on about the little things that are completely dumb about this movie, but now that they’ve finally got some Star Trek in a Star Trek movie, it really makes little difference.  Beyond feels like a reaction (or overreaction) to Star Trek Into Darkness, and it tries to combine Trek themes with rock music like Star Trek 2009 and great effects like in Into Darkness.  Unfortunately, the music is a retread of what we’ve already heard.  The whole score is a retread in fact.  Star Trek Beyond believes that it’s just enough to be retro and recall something Star Trek, so that’s all it does.  It becomes wild, extravagant, and shaky-cam fast, but it never becomes serious or meaningful.

Justin Lin really disappoints as director.  The twisting and turning of the camera done in the first part of the movie is off-putting and makes you wonder why he doesn’t show the Yorktown space station properly.  Most of the other shots are traditional, with characters speaking their dialogue directly to the camera.  There’s no other original shots or stops for beautiful moments, despite the sets looking pretty good.  Justin Lin rocks out with his retread music during one scene, as he recalls all his silly car movies.  The pace never lets up.

Justin Lin’s formula follows the usual summer movie fare:

  1.  Evil villain who snarls and wants to destroy things
  2. The climax involves destroying things
  3. Fast paced action to stop the villain from destroying things
  4. Millions of lives are in danger if things are destroyed
  5. Actual casualties are not shown and there’s no blood

I’d say the first and second act are good, but Beyond slips in the third act.  It becomes generic and tedious.  It’s just all action after a while and no tension.  The science fiction advances become convenient plot devices on their own, and Kirk is saved at the last minute by his pals (of course).  Spoiler, your action hero is heroic. 

Honestly, I really hate the acting in this movie.  Most of the actors have turned up their stupid imitations of the original crew and rehash things already done in Star Trek 2009 or Star Trek Into Darkness.  There’s more Spock and McCoy, which works well, and I appreciate that, because this kind of buddy dynamic was missing from previous installments.  Kirk feels a bit off, as he turns 35, starts combing his hair all weird, and begins pouting about the dull, “episodic” nature to his life.  This is probably a dig at Star Trek on TV, but it’s not very funny. John Cho is good, but he has nothing to do.  

Overall, this movie is terrible.  It’s not balanced or very well made.  The movie has huge doses of action, CGI and humor, followed by a dash of Star Trek themes, which makes it an entertaining summer movie, at least, but it’s still too much of a retro rehash for me.  Justin Lin is especially poor as director, because his emphasis is on the wrong elements for Star Trek, so we get action, rock music, and shaky-cam stupidness.  The themes are secondary, marginalized so we can get more explosions.  Yay. 

The Good

  1.  The effects
  2. Act I & II 
  3. Jaylah
  4. The Yorktown
  5. Spock & McCoy dynamic

The Bad

  1. The episodic nature of the film
  2. Spock’s hair
  3. All of the make-up
  4. The third act

The Ugly

  1.  Same evil villain, same evil plot, different story
  2.  All action, all-the-time
  3. Reminders that the T stands for Tiberius
  4. The writing
  5. The humor