You know, I sit and I’ve been wondering how to start this review of the latest entry into the STAR TREK franchise, and I can’t help but think of a headline I read about this movie, “A Half-Good ‘Star Trek’ Movie is Better Than No ‘Star Trek’ Movie!” and I have to say, that is pretty apt when describing STAR TREK BEYOND.
If you’ve seen the trailers, you pretty much know the setup for BEYOND: Kirk is struggling with his sense of “self”, the Enterprise is attacked in deep space & the crew is captured, from there, a race to the end of the movie.
But here’s the thing, POTENTIAL SPOILER, that’s pretty much it. I mean if you saw the trailer, you’ve pretty much seen the movie. Even wrote about giving away the movie in the trailer, specifically citing the trailer for this movie.
But I digress. Essentially, after the setup you get from the trailer, it’s pretty much a by-the-numbers adventure. And that was my worry, after the changes in directors, ultimately landing on Justin Lin (FAST & FURIOUS), and not having all the writers back from the first two movies. With Lin, his biggest claims to fame are the FAST movies, though PACKED with action, not really known for character development. And that shows in BEYOND. The action is GREAT. But as for the setup for the personal challenges the characters face? It’s a little lacking. And that might be due to the pre-production shake-ups for BEYOND, but for me, it just wasn’t there in the final product.
And it hurts me to say that, because I’ve been a huge fan of STAR TREK since the TOS movies… you might give me shit for not going back to the TOS TV… but I wasn’t alive when it aired. Haha.
But yea, I consider myself a big fan of this property, and it just felt like something crucial was missing from this entry. Heh, it’s funny, I remember Chris Pine (Kirk) making a comment that you can’t make a “cerebral” STAR TREK movie? Well Chris, you’ve made a non-cerebral STAR TREK movie, and it simply lacks the heart almost every other STAR TREK movie had, even the bad ones. There was no challenge for the characters, and no challenge for the movie-goer. It was just sort of there.
Now I know this might sound like I hated the movie. I didn’t. Disappointed, sure. But I didn’t hate it. In all actuality, I did have fun. And regardless of my criticisms about BEYOND, it is a STAR TREK movie, so you really should see it in theatres. I mean, why would you NOT see sci-fi on the big screen?!! Haha.
As for anything else? I guess leading up to this film’s release, making Sulu gay was getting steam online. So I guess, I’ll mention it. I think it’s great that the writers and producers introduced a LGBT character, existing or otherwise, into this universe. But the way the went about it just seemed so pointless. I mean, you knew going in that it was going to be an equivalent of a side-comment, not a huge plot device. But the way Sulu was introduced as being gay in this universe, felt so forced in. Almost like it was an after-thought. Like an executive was all, “It’s hip to be inclusive, so let’s do this as a nod to Takei to increase attendance!” and they just jammed in the nod.
It would have been nice to see it have happened more organically. Maybe in future entries, but it is what it is.
I will say though, Rihanna, or as Aubrey Plaza, by way of MIKE AND DAVE NEEDS WEDDING DATES, puts it, “RiRi”, was awesome. I’ve never seen her act before. I mean I heard she gave a commanding performance in BATTLESHIP, but I missed that one. I absolutely had NO desire to see a cobbled movie based on a board game. But I will say, Rihanna was great in BEYOND. I definitely look forward to seeing more from her.
Other than that? Well, like I started this review, a half good STAR TREK movie really is better than none. Loved seeing the crew again. I do recommend seeing it in theatres, just don’t expect too much from it. You might even consider it worse than INTO DARKNESS.
You’ve been warned.
UPDATE: There is a dedication to lost crew members, so that was definitely touching to see.