US Release Date: 07-22-2016
Directed by: Justin Lin
- Chris Pine, as
- Captain James T. Kirk
- Zachary Quinto, as
- Commander Spock
- Karl Urban, as
- Doctor 'Bones' McCoy
- Zoe Saldana, as
- Lieutenant Uhura
- Simon Pegg, as
- Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott
- John Cho, as
- Anton Yelchin, as
- Idris Elba, as
- Sofia Boutella, as
- Joe Taslim, as
- Lydia Wilson, as
- Deep Roy, as
- Melissa Roxburgh, as
- Ensign Syl
- Shohreh Aghdashloo, as
- Commodore Paris
- Greg Grunberg as
- Commander Finnegan
Karl Urban, Chris Pine, and Zachary Quinto in Star Trek: Beyond.
Although I will never have the affection for these versions of the characters that I have for the original cast and crew of the Starship Enterprise, they have grown on me and there's no denying that these new films are entertaining. They're fast paced and fun, filled with plenty of action and the sort of humorous interaction between the crewmembers that we have come to expect from them. This latest installment is no exception.
The film opens with Kirk feeling in a rut after 3 years of duty as Captain of the Enterprise, and a mission to rescue a stranded ship seems to offer little in the way of excitement. However, that changes very quickly when the Enterprise is attacked by a swarm (and I do mean "swarm" in the literal sense) of spaceships that decimates the ship, sending it crashing to the planet below. On the planet, the crew are split up after escaping in separate escape capsules. They learn that their ship was attacked by an alien named Krall (Idris Elba under a lot of makeup and CGI), who is out for revenge against the Federation (aren't they all?) and he wants an ancient artifact that was stored aboard the Enterprise. Can Kirk and the crew stop him before he is able to carry out his nefarious plan? (Of course we know they can, but the fun is in watching them do it.)
It has always been the characters that are the best thing about the Star Trek series and that is still the case here. Krall is a fairly generic villain and his plans seem overly complicated for what he wants to accomplish. However, it's the journey that makes it entertaining. Spock and McCoy get to spend quite a bit of time together, which is always fun. Quinto and Urban are able to recreate the chemistry of Nimoy and Kelly, arguing and bickering constantly, while secretly harboring an affection for each other. Kirk and Chekov are paired off in a few scenes that are made poignant by Anton Yelchin's tragic death. Scotty, as played by Simon Pegg (who also co-wrote the script), provides much of the comic relief as he has done in the earlier films of the reboot. Zoe Saldana as Uhura and John Cho as Sulu, seem to get the least amount of screentime this time around, although Sulu (in a nod to the original Sulu, George Takei) is revealed to be gay.
The only time the script feels as though it missteps is when it has both Kirk and Spock contemplating career changes. Spock's is done partly as a reaction to the death of the original Spock (as an acknowledgement of Leonard Nimoy's passing), and is more understandable than Kirk's, but both of their reactions seem out of place for their age. In the original Star Trek films, Kirk was often moody and contemplating death and aging, but that was understandable given the age of the original crew at that point. But at the stage in the careers of the characters in these films, they should be too busy exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, and just basically going boldly where no one has gone before, to contemplate such things.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Star Trek's debut. Who would have guessed all those years ago that the little, under budgeted television series, that had to fight to stay on the air for even just the 3 seasons that it lasted, would still be a franchise a half-century later, with another film already being written, and a new television series in development?
Anton Yelchin, Chris Pine and John Cho in Star Trek Beyond
I must comment on Sulu supposedly being revealed to be gay. Early on we see a picture of a little girl at Sulu's work station. Is this his daughter, niece or close friend's daughter? The movie never says. After the Enterprise docks at a port, he is greeted by a man and the little girl in the photo. Sulu hugs the girl and walks off with his hand on the guys back. That is all we get. That could be a gay couple but it could just as easily be two brothers and the one's daughter. The other guy is likewise of Asian descent. I believe they intend for us to take this to mean that they are a gay couple but the film makers wimped out by being vague about it. Look on you tube for soldier welcomed home. It involves hugging, kissing and often tears. These men greet each other more like friends than lovers.
I have no emotional investment in whether Sulu is gay or not, other than it would be nice for some of the supporting characters to actually be given a character. Sulu has always gotten the shaft when it came to characterization. The same could be said of Chekov. They drive the damn ship but get the least amount to do. They have been written with very little personalities and absolutely no back story. Sure, sure, I know, Trekkies are going to tell me how wrong I am but just looking at these two through the films we get very little info or characterization on them.
The contention of Kirk and Spock questioning their future is, as Scott mentioned, out of character. They have both always been such loyal Federation officers that everything else in their lives have always come second, be it family or love. The screen time spent on them pondering their place in life could have gone to Sulu or Chekov. Hey, what if it turned out that Sulu and Chekov were a couple. They spend all that time together side by side, firing their torpedoes and pushing the thrusters to exhaustion. Just saying.
Besides all that, Star Trek Beyond is is perfectly paced, entertainingly action packed, science fiction film. After a brief introduction of the space port, that comes into play later, the movie starts moving and does not stop until the climactic, and expected, battle between Kirk and Krall. As Scott wrote, there is never any doubt that the crew of the Enterprise will win but the odds constantly seem stacked against them. This is especially noted when the Enterprise is destroyed in space and then crashes on a planet, getting destroyed even further, only to have it later sustain even more damage. That ship does not want to die.
I do not have the emotional attachment that Scott does to the original cast. Chris Pine is great as James Kirk and with his father making an appearance in the first film and Kirk pining about him here, the writers are taking Kirk in a slightly new direction. Spock's relationship with Uhura is moving painfully slow but that is likewise something different than what we saw with the original group. Simon Pegg wrote Scotty a decent sized part to play but for the most part, he and Bones are staying true to their source material. Now, if someone could just think of something to do with Chekov and Sulu, who may be gay but we will have to wait for the fan boys reaction to see if the writers will confirm it.
Photos © Copyright Paramount Pictures (2016)