Wow! It’s been a long time since I’ve written a movie review. But believe it or not, Star Trek Beyond is only the third movie I’ve seen in the movie theater this year. That’s not so usual for me.
I haven’t quite come to terms with whether it’s worth it for me to write these movie reviews for a movie that’s not currently in the theaters. Perhaps if I see a good foreign or independent that didn’t make it big in the theaters I’ll write a review for that, but writing reviews for movies isn’t the same as writing reviews for books. Perhaps if I create a good structure for my reviews, similar to how I write my book reviews, you may see more of these.
Star Trek Beyond Movie Review
My Emotional Reaction to Star Trek Beyond
I really enjoyed Star Trek Beyond! It was fun, smart, and action packed. Most of the characters got to grow in ways that I enjoyed. I especially liked how the screen writers incorporated Leonard Nimoy’s death (February 2015) into the storyline. That was true Star Trek fan dedication. And I enjoyed the thought-provoking plot, which raised many questions about humanity and what helps us change.
I’m A Trekkie
To set the record straight I’m a huge Star Trek fan. I’ve seen all of the episodes of the original Star Trek, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager at least once. Many episodes I’ve seen multiple times. I’ve seen all of the Star Trek movies (both great and terrible). I even read a handful of Star Trek novels when I was in high school. Unfortunately, Enterprise didn’t hold my interest beyond the pilot episode; it’s the only Star Trek show I couldn’t get into. Maybe some day I’ll get around to giving it a second chance.
The main reason I’m mentioning this is because my experience with Star Trek is extensive. As a Trekkie I have a certain expectation for what happens within the Star Trek universe. The conflicts that arise, the character expectations, and the laws of Star Trek physics are interpreted through my vast filter of Star Trek knowledge. I’m telling you this because I watch everything Star Trek through Trekkie glasses. Just as I watch and read everything Star Wars through my Jedi glasses. These glasses influence my opinions and critiques. Every aspect of a Star Trek story has to fit into the known Star Trek universe, and if something different comes along, it must be explained in terms of the given universe.
What I Liked about Star Trek Beyond
As I said, Star Trek Beyond is a smart, fun action/adventure. The story was a logical follow-up to Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness: the crew is on its five-year deep-space mission. The story was well planned and each scene was obviously saved for the pertinent plot and character information it conveyed.
Here are four aspects of the movie that I enjoyed most about Star Trek Beyond.
General Character Development
I really enjoyed where Star Trek Beyond brings Kirk, Spok, and McCoy. As a Trekkie, the relationship between Kirk, Spok, and McCoy is one of the key aspects that made the original Star Trek so great. The first two movies really focused on Kirk and Spok and I was so pleased to see that McCoy is being brought into the fold in Star Trek Beyond for those who aren’t so familiar with the trio dynamic.
I liked that McCoy got more screen time to show the audience his snarky sense of humor and to show where he fits into the friendship between Kirk and Spok.
I enjoyed Kirk’s maturity as a captain and the struggle he goes through to decide if he still wants to be a starship captain. I enjoyed Spok’s conflict that arose from Ambassador Spok’s demise and the tremendous responsibility and love that he feels toward his people. Should he leave Star Fleet to help his people? Should he sacrifice his relationship with Uhura because of that duty to his people? These are all really good conflicts.
Everyone else still orbits Kirk’s and Spok’s conflicts, but the overall conflict of survival is what really brings out the strengths and weaknesses of all of the members of the Enterprise crew.
I like that Uhura got to play another vital role in the story’s plot: were it not for her no one would have figured out the villain’s plan. This was due partly to circumstance, but also partly to her personal skills, a factor that in my opinion weighed in even more heavily. Nonetheless, I still feel like Uhura’s character has not reached its full potential beyond the love interest stereotype.
Nice Twist on the Villain
I can’t say much here without giving away the ending, but I liked the idea of the villain. The villain brings up a lot of important fundamental questions about the formation of the Federation and human nature (for the lack of a better term). Does humanity need continuous conflict in order to grow? They pose a very interesting question. To a certain extent it’s true. The villain is also a nice example of a fallen angel or could be a hint of why someone would become a fundamentalist. His conflicts are pertinent to today and give the audience the chance to think about some questions that they might not otherwise.
Broke the Red-shirt Rule
I loved that Star Trek Beyond broke the red-shirt rule.
There’s a joke amongst Trekkies that if a person in a red shirt goes on an mission, they are most likely going to die. If you sit and watch enough episodes of Star Trek, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
That didn’t happen in Star Trek Beyond. People of all shirt colors died on screen; there was no discrimination, except where the main characters were concerned — obviously.
Living up to its name, Star Trek Beyond was an amazing movie to look at. Regardless of where the characters were set – on the Enterprise, on the amazing starbase Yorktown, or on the planet Altamid – I was captivated by the beautiful and realistic-feeling settings. The sweeping special effects shots gave me appreciation for people’s imaginations and computer skills. I was totally sucked in.
The Four Things That Annoyed Me About Star Trek Beyond
Nothing annoys me more than things that take me out of my movie enjoyment. It’s actually a worse experience for me than when something takes me out of a novel. Is it because it’s more immediate? Is it because a movie is more visual? I’m not sure. But these four aspects of the movie dimmed my enjoyment of the film.
Action Scene Editing
Action scenes are hard. You have to give the audience enough information, keep them interested, and show story and character development all at the same time. Ok. That’s if you’re a good film maker. It seems to me that director Justin Lin did what many writers are encouraged to do. Make shorter sentences to make the scenes feel faster. In movie terms, cut the scenes shorter. This may work for a Fast and Furious movie that doesn’t require much brain power, but when you have to sit and watch every single second of an action scene in order to not harbor questions later in the movie, that’s not a good sign. I get the quandary – I really do. How much info is too little and how much is too much? But if my husband sneezed at the wrong moment and missed that key piece of action sequence and later leans over to ask what, how, or why, that’s not a very good editing job. (I also talked with several other people who expressed similar sentiments.)
I found this to be truer during the earlier action scenes in the movie. The third-act action scenes didn’t suffer from this effect as much as the earlier ones. During action scenes people need time to absorb what’s happening. The action scene shouldn’t be action just for action’s sake – it’s really a time for character and plot building (or resolution).
Is the Villain a New Alien?
I’m going to remind you again that I’ve seen every episode of Star Trek at least once. The moment I saw the villain I was convinced that I’d seen that species of alien in another Star Trek. Maybe the ridges on their faces were a bit sharper, but I knew that I had seen them before and couldn’t remember from where. It bothered me throughout the movie. My mother (also a Trekkie) said that she had the same experience.
I don’t mind seeing new aliens – in fact it’s expected when watching Star Trek – but when people say it’s new and it really doesn’t “feel” new… we have a problem. But you know, if you’re not a Trekkie, the villain looks like a pretty badass alien. I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with him.
The Villain’s Rejuvenation Powers
In order not to spoil the movie for you altogether, I’m going to simply state that the villain’s powers of rejuvenation really needed to be explained better. Just seeing the guy suck the life out of some random Enterprise crew members wasn’t enough for me. I’m a writer. I came up with at least 4 different reasons on the spot for why the villain did what he did and why the results were what they were. I’m sorry that sounds really vague, but I have to be in order for Justin Lin’s cheat to work for you.
I totally recognized the villain’s climax as a storytelling cheat, and it bothered me that I saw it. Worse yet, I couldn’t understand why the cheat was needed at all. I’m sure that Justin Lin thought the audience needed a more obvious or more impactful visual aid. But people who go to see a movie like Star Trek aren’t stupid; with all of the clues that were given about the villain we could have maintained the revelation whether we had questions about it or not.
Is Sulu Really Gay?
This is my gripe about people’s arbitrary use of #WeNeedDiverseBooks. I don’t have problems with LGBT characters. What I have a problem with is when authors “slip” in a LGBT character in order to make it “look” like they’re being inclusive. Really? That’s just insulting. It’s insulting to the people that are supposedly being “represented.”
My other gripe with this revelation is that it is an obvious indicator that the people who wrote the scrip for Star Trek Beyond were not Trekkies. (1) Sulu was never gay in any Star Trek universe — even the original Sulu actor, George Takei, doesn’t agree <http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/george-takei-reacts-gay-sulu-909154>. (2) This also shows that the writers have absolutely no clue what the rules of a parallel universe are. Just because a character is in a parallel universe doesn’t mean that their nature changes. Of course we can get into a long philosophical debate about this, but I won’t get into that here.
Again, I’m going to point out that my Trekkie glasses influence my personal opinion, but my professional opinion says that if you’re going to have an LGBT character in a story, you can’t just say, “Oh yeah, he’s gay” and then just drop it after that. That’s not a fair representation of a person’s character.
WriterAlina’s Overall Star Trek Beyond Recommendation
After those points of contention, you might think that I hated Star Trek Beyond, but I didn’t. I enjoyed Star Trek’s many impossible escapes, smart characters, and poignant commentary about the meaning of the Federation. My gripes really only mean that the movie wasn’t perfect, and that is all right. It was still fun to watch, and I’ll absolutely be adding Star Trek Beyond to my movie collection when it comes out in Bluray and digital.
If you enjoy smart action/adventure, science fiction, and good character development, I highly recommend going to see Star Trek Beyond.
If you enjoyed this post maybe you’ll be interested in one of the following posts by WriterAlina: