Sunday, 24 July 2016

Review: Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond (3D / SPOILER-Y. ish.)
Cert: 12A / 120 mins / Dir. Justin Lin / Trailer

Well, it's a pan-galactic level of irony we're at when the kid who popularised the use of the term MILF turns out to have been into dudes all along*1! I would not have called that one.

Just over three years into their five-year exploratory mission, the crew of the Enterprise are keeping themselves busy, yet boredom and despondency has set in overall*2. The film opens with a diplomatic meeting being simultaneously tedious and comically haphazard, and might actually be more fun than anything in the previous movie; although it also turns out that it's the most overt fun that this one has, too.

We then move on to Kirk and Co essentially getting a memo which reads: We've got a rescue-mission for you to go on which is, in all likelihood, a trap. Unfortunately, we dismissed the department responsible for trap-analysis after than whole Khan-incident and haven't got round to replacing them yet, so we are unable to confirm if this is actually a trap. If you could run along there and find out either way, that'd be lovely thanks. Best regards, Starfleet Command (also not yet fully replaced). This movie also (re)confirms that the Enterprise is basically the flying version of Xavier's Mansion. Apparently there's an ejector-button for the 'saucer' section, but that only gets pressed after the rest of the ship has been destroyed, anyway. Seriously, this isn't a spoiler. Getting needlessly spanged is written into the Enterprise's contract.

To cut a long ramble short (or, more accurately, to insert a short ramble into a longer one), Star Trek Beyond is very much A Star Trek Film™. There's nowhere near the amount of trope-recycling we've seen previously (or if there is then it's in minutiae so small that I didn't pick up on it), but similarly, this never tries to be anything more than the thing it already is. Fine for the undemanding members of the fanbase, but the hardcore Trekkers and casual Summer-audience alike may be left wanting. That's no great sin in itself, but the 2009 series-opener showed us that you can play to both crowds with equal skill, so why not continue that?

The 3D is immersive enough and rarely distracting, but a lot of this film is dark by necessity, so the light-loss could well be problematic if your cinema's projector appears to be on the way out (just saying, because Screen 1 doesn't have this problem but Screen 5 does). There were entire sequences where I had pretty much no idea what was going on. Although to be fair, that seems to be down to Justin Lin's direction, too. It's ironic that the guy who brought us some of the best Fast & Furious movies can direct the dialogue to great effect in Star Trek, but seems to struggle with the action scenes. Or maybe that's just the strength of a cast who are completely at-ease with each other?

Speaking of the cast, I find it genuinely amazing that Sofia Boutella's intelligent, athletic warrior Jaylah gets more character-depth in three scenes than Zoe Saldana's Uhura gets in three movies. Yes, including this one. The core-trio of Pine, Quinto and Urban are the confirmed immovable objects of the new series, but that doesn't mean they can't be complemented by the unstoppable force of their supporting crew. Other than Jaylah's introduction, this movie seems content to coast along roads already travelled rather than boldly going anywhere new.

As a strictly-civilian viewer, I quite enjoyed Star Trek Beyond, but it left no great impression other than that of a film which could be more

Oh, and since when has it been acceptable for a series of Star Trek's stature to not know the difference between a nebula and an asteroid-field, for crying out loud..?

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Well let's be fair here, The Other Star Treks

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
For maximum effect, sure.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does, but the film's half-hearted ambition is on display, too.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It's not.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I won't.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There is (and it's textbook).

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: The voice of the casually-misogynistic Dengar from The Clone Wars is in it. Oh, and he wrote it as well.
And I swear blind that I saw a Clone Wars-era medical station in here, too.
No word yet on an R2-D2 cameo, but it's early days...

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 And for the record, I'm actually with Pegg on this one (for once). Sulu's sexuality and relationship-status are completely unnecessary to the over-arcing plot of Star Trek Beyond, but it's a great bit of character-building for someone who's meant to be a main-player, but has so far been little more than a branded accessory.

*2 Which is a great point that says a lot about human complacency in extraordinary scenarios. Can you imagine our ancestors of a hundred years ago being bored at all in our society? And yet here you are; killing time reading this. And I've written it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that the action scenes were a bit sloppy here and I found myself asking the same question. I liked the first two of this series better, but I still had a lot of fun during this one.

    - Zach