I honestly can’t remember, have I became a Star Wars fan, or a Star Trek fan first. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen it all. The good, the bad and the ugly. Now it’s time to explore the Star Trek Beyond and some of it’s aspects. What makes it special, what makes it to stand out or what makes it a downer. The design, the themes, story directions, canon changes & parallels etc. Spoilers incoming.
– Posters & Theme
The main trio for the movie was utilized perfectly to get the visuals it needs. The variety and the presentation of the theme looks great when combined with Jayla’s look and the old-school poster designs like those from The Motion Picture, The Undiscovered Country and the Generations. Cool stuff!
Fresh, unusual, clumsy, spontaneous, awkward and unpredictive with adventure and humor undertone – everything that attempt of diplomacy with alien species every now and then should be. It’s the real adventurous spirit of Star Trek right there!
– 50 for 50
For the enormous 50th anniversary of Star Trek they made exactly 50 new alien species! Fifty! If only we could discover more about them or who they are atleast.
– Ship and station design
The design of the ships was already great and fresh to begin with, but in this movie the barrier has been pushed and the new Yorktown looks incredible. It’s the revival of the classic (and one of the oldest) science fiction space city concepts in it’s purest form. Love it!
– Many visually great action scenes
To be honest, Star Trek movies rarely ever achieved pure action adrenaline rush in the greatest form. JJ reboots are compensating in that aspect and this one especially delivers on that front. Clashing of the ships, painfully sharp and effective devastation of the Enterprise, elegant and precise ass-kicking by Jayla, cinematic race through the debrief… All of it is filled with details, highly cinematic and visually stunning.
– Costume design (& sharp dressed men)
All of the costume design in this movie is great. From the brand new Away Team uniforms, casual versions, the new rank based uniforms or jump-suits, all of them are looking great. Plus! You probably don’t remember which clothes Shatner and Kelley wore in their time, but you could however, remember what Kirk and Bones wore in The Voyage Home. In the end of this movie there is a clear and deliberate nod to that. A sharp dressed men indeed.
– Kinda feels like The Original Series
And it’s not unusual, given the fact that in this one, the movie has caught up with The Original Series in the timeline – part-way through the famous five year mission. It is deliberate approach as it can be, and it turned out great. Sure it has it’s flaws but in the long run, the concept and the potential are greater than the execution. If one movie misses something, another one (or the one after that) probably won’t. This is it! This is where the new Star Trek universe truly takes off.
– New Kirk
Although there were some Shatner nods and behaviours here and there, Chris Pine kept going on his own way and here it is most apparent as ever – and it’s great! This Kirk is as adventurous as the old one, but in another way. Old Kirk would’ve get both, Carol Marcus and Jaylah in bed, this one didn’t even attempted to. Old Kirk seems more skillful but also somehow like a superhero, while the New Krik is always human. Being it for better or for worse I like this new one because even if you take the Kirk name out and give him another, he will still be a compelling and interesting character.
– Crew dynamic til the 3rd act
In the third act, as the action ramped up the story quality went down the drain. However! Before that we’ve got a great series of crew dynamic right from the get go. It really selled the theme of people being together for years and being familiar with each other while working. Scotty humorously taunting Kirk as he’s getting away in a torn uniform, Bones being “Mr. Sensitive”, making inappropriate but honest observation, Kirk mentoring Chekov as in the series, then again Scotty meeting up with the new alien member in a fun manner while Bones is paired with his “favorite” green blooded friend, and that is where this movie is at it’s best.
– Bones & Spock banter
Yeah. Whether we remember the original rivalry between “Mr. Sensitive” and “Green blooded, pointy eared bastard” or not, those new ones are as just as fun as ever. Karl and Quinto totally nailed the chemistry and the performance of those characters. Easily one of the highlights of the movie.
– Translator fix
Ever wondered how all aliens spoke English and never gotten quite used to it? Me too. Thankfully, this movie finally fixed that part and the aliens really spoke their language while the translator made it English in it’s own voice. Sure, it is little awkward like those Russian movie translations (putting one voice over another) but it is the least what a contact with an alien species should be like.
– Hint at expansive universe
Remember Xindi wars or MACO troops? Yeah, the clear reference to the Enterprise series was made (not to mention how Franklin was a remade NX class Federation starship) but even more than that – the hints at the bigger picture were made and I cannot wait to see what’s happening in this new universe of Star Trek.
– Not too much technobabble
Ever since so-called “true Trekkies” started to riot (meaning endless babbling) about reboots not being Star Trek anymore (not to mention Into Darkness period) it began to seem like whatever they do, if it’s not technobabble fest with series of casual walking in and out of rooms or an in-depth tour of a ship engineering, fans will always rant against it. God forbid if we have some fun, it seems. But just think about it for a moment, and look what was the Original Series about, or what were the original movies about. People started taking too seriously (blame TNG) the franchise that even didn’t took itself very seriously in the first place. What about the Tribbles? What about Naked Time? What about going back in time and saving whales? Yeah that happened, and what’s most important – fans actually liked it. Also bare in mind that the timeline of these events is still kinda old and primitive history to the Next generations (TNG, DS9, Voyager and beyond) so there shouldn’t be that much technobabble to begin with. What I personally liked about those old movies and their timeline is exactly that, that they’re more familiar and relatable, therefore often – more fun. Because sometimes, you really only need to hear Kirk say something like “Where’s my damn torpedo!??”
– MacGuffin device
It’s not a bad thing itself that there’s a MacGuffin device though, it goes far beyond it. The whole chase throughout the movie for it, the unexplained way of how Krall predicted in which hands will it end up… Everything about it was messed up and ultimately pointless. In a way, he may have just attacked the Federation as he did at the end of the movie without it anyway.
– Krall’s transformation
Too quick, too shallow and never explained. There is an interesting fact however that when he absorbs energy from one species he becomes more like them, and when he absorbed human energy he became more human again. There’s a little irony in that genetical vampiric way of character progress and ultimately in the fact that he is so against the unity while the core of his battle tactics is in exactly that – unity! We’ve seen what his forces do when they’re not perfectly synchronized. That is the ultimate level of irony that is never addressed in the movie. Look, there is nothing wrong in keeping some things a mystery, but in a “one and done” movie, some things simply has to be explained or atleast hinted at. If you want people to think and theorize afterwards, you have to give them some clues and some other content that relates to the issue. If you simply leave things out it doesn’t mean it’s quality storytelling.
– Krall’s motivations & philosophy (& irony, never addressed)
Krall’s motivations are mentioned in the movie, the part of them atleast. But it’s not nearly enough, and so, pretty much no one in the audience took it seriously. They could’ve spent more time to flesh it out, but instead they got other priorities. It’s not that the Enterprise crew or other main characters don’t need further development, but it’s the constant struggle within the Star Trek movies where it tries to cover everything. After all, we’ve been through two films with this new crew already, so perhaps some of their aspects could’ve been left out for other occasions or trimmed down a bit. But that’s Star Trek, where villains rarely get treatment they need because the crew always comes first.
– Character misplacement (near the end)
It is clear as a day that some characters at the end of the movie were in certain places because the story demands it, even though it goes against the character. That is a trap that too many action movies gets caught in, and on purpose. Lazy writing is nothing new, but it hurts when the rest of the movie was so good. Jaylah’s determination to help the crew was too quick, and her fighting scenes were there just to fill the gaps. Just like Bones, our famous doctor piloting the alien warship which made no sense even when they tried to make some.
– Clumsy pacing & placement of hommages & easter eggs
What recent movie made easter eggs subtle and well placed? – The Force Awakens. Which one didn’t? – This one. You can argue that Finn holding Luke’s training probe for a half a second wasn’t subtle enough, or C3PO’s red arm intrusion was very “in the face” – but it served it’s purpose as a funny anegdote. The complete look at the TOS crew portrait however, which was the sole focus of the scene was nowhere subtle and felt completely out of place. Not to mention terrible implementation of highly inappropriate TOS fighting music.
/ or Awkward
– Incredibly poor Anniversary celebration … or the absence of it
Aside from “50 for 50” thing, which was a cool gesture, there was nothing, and I mean literally nothing substantial to mark that huge occasion. Sure it will praise and celebrate itself by community on social media, but is that enough? – Not nearly.
It’s having identity crisis, it’s cluttered, it’s all over the place and overwhelmingly inconsistent. TOS style fighting music does not go well with this setting at all, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. That was really tasteless, especially considering any lack of subtlety whatsoever.
– Sudden solutions and success in extremely improbable events
It’s not bad, it’s one of the classic action elements but come on, that’s Star Wars thing!
– Underplayed topics
I get it. Sulu’s family status was underplayed for an obvious reason, and that was okay. Kirk’s father theme was also touched on and left out for a next movie. Okay… What was less okay however was Uhura & Spock relationship banter which goes for three movies already and it always teases with details and then leaves with things unfinished. Honestly I don’t care much about their relationship, as it often borderlines with annoying but this new theme of Spock’s Vulcan lineage was worthy of exploration atleast. Then there is Krall and the whole story of his which I mentioned a couple of times already.
– Less like a remake, yet still somehow – a remake
So, to recap: First reboot, although fresh the most of all still was kinda exploration story like The Motion Picture. Still, it was great, but then it started getting into dangerous territory later on. Then we got Into Darkness which was the most clear take on Wrath of Khan, and now we’re getting Enterprise destroyed which happened in which movie? Ah, you’ve guessed it! The third one – The Search for Spock. Thankfully the freshness and the originality from the first reboot are still here and it’s a very good movie on it’s own.
– Shaky cam and jump cuts
If there’s a bad thing coming from Justin Lin as an action movie director it would be those two. Shaky cam is mostly distracting and cheap way to make action scenes artificially tense, and jump cuts are lazy solutions when one doesn’t know how to transition into scenes in any better way. Star Trek needs neither of those.
– The concept of Jaylah and (most of) the other aliens
She does look awesome and have the energy needed for the role, but in a nutshell the problem is the same as with many Star Trek aliens – they’re too human! Except that exceptional makeup, there is literally no other alien aspect to her character whatsoever. That “Color them different and call them aliens” mentality was old in the 70’s and is certainly old and primitive now.
– Enterprise A
So… If the first rebooted Enterprise was more like the Enterprise A to begin with… Why the hell isn’t the new Enterprise A completely like the Prime Universe one? It is almost the same damn ship – twice.
Rarely who could have predicted that we would get a Star Trek movie that manages to be adrenaline rushed popcorn movie on one hand and a classic Star Trek movie on another. This one did it! Not without flaws, but did it nevertheless. The First Contact showed us it can be done, and this one confirmed it. The future of Star Trek movies is finally back in motion. Engage!