Star Trek got a reboot a while back with new actors playing 'iconic' roles from the Original Series aired in the sixties. Why did I need to start this review like that? Because the writers sure didn't remember where their work came from. Or at least, they forgot where some of their characters came from.
While the supporting roles of Doctor McCoy, Sulu, Chekov and Scotty are left relatively untouched, key other characters are dramatically impacted by the modern day. As if they need to apologize for what Gene Roddenberry created, they have nerfed Captain Kirk, buffed Uhura and altered Spock...well, a lot.
In this latest installment, Star Trek: Beyond, they have taken steps to at least get original again (they didn't bring back Harry Mudd or Klingons) but in so doing, they just...found something flat. It falls into the trap of other big budget titles which rely on character interactions to save them from poor story telling. You go to see people talk to each other (like Thor 2--people want more Loki, they don't care that the dark elves have been basically imprisoned for thousands of years and shouldn't have better technology than the culture which thrived through that time). Let's look deeper.
Story doesn't matter
This is the new mantra of the big budget movie. Stuff happens and it happens to make the characters do things which will get an emotional reaction but that doesn't mean the stuff has to make sense. In fact, often it makes NO SENSE. How about the camera footage in Captain America showing Bucky murder Stark's parents. Who put that camera in that particular patch of woods and how did Bucky nail it so well that some filmmakers would be jealous of his placement? Like mentioned above, how did the Asgardians fail to repel the Dark Elves with ease when they thrived and the DEs did not? No one cares. They want snarky comments from Tony, they want banter between Widow and Hawkeye.
Star Trek falls into this realm. When did Doctor McCoy become a pilot so good they would trust him with, oh, the fate of a commander and the star base they're trying to defend? When did Captain Kirk lose the ability to fight? The only thing Kirk did consistently well in his 3 shows and movies is win fights. Whether he was in the ship or on the ground, he tore people up. In the new movie series, he rarely hits when he fires and consistently gets his ass kicked (I think he won a single fight in all three movies).
This problem extends to any big budget movie with a book to tame it. Marvel movies started seriously suffering when they got into sequels. They just make things happen and if they make sense, great. And the worst part is, I hear people say 'It doesn't matter.' I guess it doesn't. They make ass loads of money and that's the objective, right? Leave awards and story to films that aren't as bloated on the cash. That's what we've been seeing lately and Star Trek Beyond is no different.
Extreme or Ridiculous
You can play this as a drinking game when you watch Star Trek Beyond. So many moments of people flying through the air. If you've seen the preview, you've seen Scotty pull a Fast & The Furious out of a torpedo tube to cliff hang. Lots of sliding, falling, flying through the air, surviving odds which are just funny...all around, you just have to be wondering if you've been on a roller coaster ride. Star Trek isn't realistic, I get it but this goes so far beyond that...well, I guess that's why it's Beyond.
Again? You're blowing it up again?
Did anyone even flinch when they blew up the Enterprise again? I mean, seriously, who even cares now? Six times if you're interested in the number and you could consider it to have been crippled several more besides. It's just silly. But let's talk about how they did it this time: dude had such a powerful weapon, he took the Enterprise out in about sixty seconds. Their shields were useless. Their weapons were useless. And he just took them down. Done.
Why the fuck did he need the bio weapon then?! Why didn't he just cruise out and wipe out the star base already? NOTHING COULD STOP HIM! Wait. There was something (obviously it doesn't end like a Joss Whedon flick). The power of rock. Well...thank God for a boom box but otherwise, his people already had an unstoppable weapon. They didn't need another unstoppable terrifying weapon other than to just be douche bags.
The Villain: Why?
Star Trek and their stupid villains. This one is worse than the last in my opinion. This guy, a former Star Fleet special operative soldier gets so pissed that he was abandoned in an undetectable planet surrounded by something which stopped his communications that he went insane and decided to just kill everyone. That's his motivation. Congratulations, you definitely missed the whole point of being a bad ass soldier and just became a parody of a psychotic fuck.
Star Trek has always had some cheese ass villains but most of them have some good reasons to do what they're doing. To be fair, Star Trek 2 (not the Into Darkness shit, I'm talking the original 2) but WTF did Khan think he was going to do? Let's say he blew up the Enterprise. Now he's got Genesis. His little terrorist tirade wasn't going to last forever. He might get a couple of systems but eventually, he'd be taken out because he wasn't going to find a secluded place to settle down. He wanted to be a conqueror again.
The villains in other movies, like the Klingons in Star Trek 6 made more sense. They wanted to start a war and they did a damn fine job of getting there. Never mind the stupidity of Kirk and McCoy being put in a prison--decorated and seasoned operatives who would have more clout than your average politician. I guess in this day & age, we need to have a black hat to hate and if we don't, the movie just doesn't hold our attention.
I was a Star Trek fan. I grew up on the Original Series and I liked some of the movies. I didn't personally get into Star Trek The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise but I've seen some interesting fan films and read a couple of their books. They can be really fun and they have such a vast, open ended world to explore. It's a pity they continually rely on cheap gags and stupid story elements to make up the bulk of their franchise.
The debate about which is better ended a while back for me: Star Wars or Star Trek. There's no comparison. Star Wars, a science fantasy, makes more sense than Star Trek ever has and honestly, I find that crazy. For a show which propelled users to think about important issues, we've now seen it relegated to another slap stick action adventure piece more in tune with humor than thought.
I am shocked it received critical acclaim because it was enough to lose me as a fan of Star Trek completely.
Author of several books, composer of several CDs. Please check out the rest of the site for some of my work.