Film Grains: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

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Anticipation:   2.5/5   The first trailer was uninspiring, the second was a little more exciting and then I stopped paying attention. I walked into the theater with no expectations…

Final Verdict:     4/5    … and I had a really fun time! Once it gets going, Star Trek Beyond takes the crown for being the most enjoyable and entertaining blockbuster to come out this summer.

Star Trek Beyond’s plot is quite simple: After being attacked by a ruthless new enemy, Krall, the crew of the USS Enterprise crash land on a planet and must escape in time to save a nearby space station from being destroyed.

Star Trek Beyond is a small adventure story packaged as a tent-pole, action-packed, big, summer blockbuster. That is the one thing that is striking about how the movie begins: the shift in tone from directors J.J. Abrams to Justin Lin. It is a welcome change and is adequately dealt with in the first action set piece that I won’t spoil here. Suffice it to say that there is a very distinct adjustment in size of a specific alien character that mirrors the scope of the movie.

Scribes Simon Pegg and Doug Jung have written a very personal, a very intimate movie that feels like an episode from the original Star Trek series, rather than the all-out action romps Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman did with the first two installments, Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). For the franchise’s third installment, Pegg and Jung have the crew at the 3-year mark of the Enterprise’s famed 5-year mission. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is bored of the “episodic” nature of the mission, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is reflective, contemplating his relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and weighing it against his duty to perpetuate Vulcan culture, and Bones is Bones (Karl Urban).

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That, the first Act, to me is the uneven part of Beyond. The audience understands that the characters have been going through the motions for 3 years. Kirk’s inner struggle with being Captain and constant effort to come out from under his father’s shadow has been echoed three times now and it is time to move on. The same goes for Spock’s wrestling with his loyalty to his endangered race and his loyalty to Uhura. Lin makes you feel Kirk’s boredom and Spock’s quandary, but it doesn’t make for good entertainment if the audience feels bored too. However, because the character development is very carefully done, the movie has shifted gears by the time it reaches the second Act and whatever qualms I had with the first, quickly dissipated.

Another little gripe I had with the movie, were parts of the score. During the more dramatic sequences, the score took me out of the movie. Being that the characters were very well developed, the score felt heavy handed at times, like it was pushing the audience to sympathize with characters they had already won over.

Which brings me to the best part of Star Trek Beyond: the humor. The movie is so funny. The entire audience genuinely laughed out loud during many of the sequences. The dialogue was sharp and witty, and most of all, the humor did not feel out of place. Two very important and, again, very welcome changes, are the pairings of Spock and Bones, and Scotty and Jaylah, another stranded survivor with no ties to the Federation. The banter between Spock and Bones is exceptional. They are an odd couple that feed off each other’s form of honesty: Spock’s adherence to logic, and Bones’ upfront, no bullshit speech. Scotty and Jaylah’s relationship is also quite amusing. Scotty is visibly intimidated by Jaylah, but that quickly shifts to admiration as they learn to trust and rely on each other. It was pleasant to see that the producers had faith in the writers’ want to separate Kirk and Spock to explore and develop other relationships. It is highly enjoyable and pays dividends.

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The entire cast is excellent, but the stand-out performances are Sofia Boutella as Jaylah and Idris Elba as Krall. With Star Trek Beyond’s central themes being abandonment and reorientation, both Jaylah and Krall represent the opposing spectrums. Coming off her turn as Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service and Shadha in Tiger Raid, Boutella’s performance as Jaylah is nuanced, calculated, being able to shift her character’s demeanor from innocent to brutal in the blink of an eye. Idris Elba is not given much to do in terms of dialogue, but what he manages to do with his voice and the physicality of his performance is clever and captivating. His character is rather unimpressive for the first two Acts, but rest assured, the third Act solidifies Krall as a fully fleshed out character that beckons audience sympathy.

Well, we haven’t talked about the action, have we? There really isn’t much to say other than it was well done and exceedingly entertaining. I found myself gripping my seat at times and also reminding myself to blink. Justin Lin proves that he is a very smart and capable director with his stylistic choices and his knack for pacing. I hope he comes back for the next movie in the franchise, announced just a few days ago.

I cannot recommend Star Trek Beyond enough. It will please mass audiences and Star Trek fans alike. It is this summer’s best blockbuster and the perfect movie to celebrate Star Trek‘s 50th Anniversary. Go see it. Warp speed!

Here is the 2nd trailer for Star Trek Beyond

Here is a documentary entitled The Science of Star Trek

And another entitled Star Trek – Beyond the Final Frontier

Here is an interesting article written by Marcus Berkmann for the Independent entitled “Star Trek 50th Anniversary: A Celebration of the Original Series and its Unique Vision of the Future”

And lastly, here is InSession Film’s ranking of all Star Trek movies

I want to know what you thought of Star Trek Beyond. Leave comments below or hit me up on Twitter @Film_Faculty

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Lee Brady says:

    Well, that’s me sold. Hoping to see it tomorrow, interested to see how I feel about the score and characters in the first act ;)
    Always great to see more Film Grains!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. minimediarvwr says:

    I thought it was a decent effort, never quite reaching the highs of the previous reboots. Action was goodand I agree about the characters but feel it was let down by a thinner plot, feeling more like a TV episode than a full film.
    Good stuff though! Lots to read on here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Mini Media! I understand where you’re coming from :) I, on the other hand, was happy to see something different interns of plot, even if it was thinner. I felt that Star Trek and Into Darkness were almost the same movie, so I had my fingers crossed they would move in a different direction. So, we could say that I was well served! :).

      I’ll be posting our podcast episode on Star Trek tomorrow, so if you want to, check it out! It’s a really fun episode!

      I’m glad you found a lot to read here. It’s always great to get feedback such as yours! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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