Title: Star Trek Beyond
Director: Justin Lin
Summary: The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.
This review is going to be a little different from my other reviews. It’s not often that I get to attend a major event and I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the Star Trek Beyond premiere at Comic-Con International. The tickets were given away by reaching into a bag and if you got a pink ticket you were in and able to take someone with you. After a three and a half hour wait in the sun I managed to pull a winning ticket and brought one of my new line friends with me. The movie was going to be screened outside in an IMAX screen with a live orchestra playing the soundtrack. I hadn’t attended one of these events before so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
When I arrived they told me to throw away all of my food and water which concerned me since it was hot and I still had a significant walk home. They gave us a box with a subway sandwich, a bag of chips, and a cookie. We were then able to pick up a soda and a bottle of water to take our seats. There were little bags of cheddar, caramel, and kettle corn on each of the seats. There were also two carts with ice cream bars. Conan came out and introduced the cast to everyone and there was a tribute to Leonard Nimoy and a long moment of silence for Anton Yelchin. The San Diego Orchestra took the stage and they dimmed the lights.
(Video by me)
Instead of starting the movie the orchestra began to play the theme and they pumped some smoke into the air. They began a musical light, laser, and firework show that lasted nearly ten minutes. I managed to get most of it on film. After it ended a few more words were spoken and the lights once again dimmed as they started the movie.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the rebooted Star Trek movies. I thought the 2009 movie was saved entirely by its excellent cast and that Star Trek Into Darkness was terrible. I’ve been worried about Star Trek Beyond because the production seemed very rushed and there were rumors that they went into shooting with an incomplete script. There are few things that damn a project more than shooting without a completed script and the trailers have not done a great job of selling the movie as a Trek film.
Star Trek Beyond is the best of the rebooted trilogy that give its entire ensemble a chance to shine while remaining true to what made Star Trek so great.
The first thing that Star Trek Beyond does that works in its favor is ignore the previous two movies, Star Trek Into Darkness in particular. I cannot think of a single moment from the entire production that even acknowledged that that movie even happened which is smart. This is a movie that could have easily been the first of the new trilogy and is stronger for it. The cast is still the best part of the movie and they have an easy going chemistry that shows just how close all of them have gotten over the course of the years. The plot contrives a reason for all of them to be separated and some of the best moments of the movie come from it. This is the first time that we’ve really seen Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban) interact one on one and every second they are on screen is compelling to watch.
The story, penned by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, is simplistic enough that it harkens back to the original television series and its themes. There is a large space station that represents everything that Starfleet stands for (unity of races working together to better the universe) and Krall (Idris Elba) wants to destroy it. The symbolism is obvious but it being so on the nose leaves the movie no room for misinterpretation. The new character of Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) is a great addition to the cast and is a strong character that isn’t defined by the fact that she is strong. She’s a complete human being with her own goals and motivations.
The movie isn’t perfect. Chris Pine is still the weakest link in the cast but this is probably the most charisma he’s ever had on screen. The script helps him by not letting him wallow in his “daddy issues” the entire time. It is also fairly obvious that a lot has been left on the cutting room floor. Jaylah doesn’t have much of an origin aside from some expository dialogue and the origin of The Swarm is left completely out. It feels like the movie could have been a lot longer and not suffered for it much in the way of pacing. There are a few moments that don’t really work, such as the deux machina way they defeat the swarm and some coincidences that you have to ignore or the plot falls apart, but things work work well enough that you can ignore them.
Star Trek Beyond is the best of the rebooted Star Trek movies thus far. It’s the first one to really take advantage of its excellent cast and take the series in a direction that feels very true to the source material while still being its own thing. If this is the direction of the future Star Trek movies, then we’re in for a treat. It’s just a shame it took two movies for us to get there.
The movie ended and the experience was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It was unique enough that I was having a hard time separating the movie from the experience critically. I had never seen a movie with a live orchestra playing the soundtrack, and if you ever get the opportunity I would highly recommend it. For all of their faults the new Star Trek movies have always had an excellent score.
When we left the premiere we were told to step to the right to get our ‘goody bag’. I didn’t think much of it since I’ve seen swag from events before. The bag was a lot better than I could have anticipated with a shirt, a hat, a pin, and four blurays (Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan directors cut, and Star Trek The Original Series Origins).
The event itself was unforgettable and was worth the three hour wait in line, but the fact that I got to see a good movie on top of it just made everything even better.