Monday, July 25, 2016
Star Trek Beyond Spoiler Free Review
The film opens with an amusing away mission moment that doesn't go as planned before the crew heads to the Star Base Yorktown whose realization is Star Trek technology taken to an extreme but beautiful degree (but not all together practical if assume space is dangerous) for some R&R. The crew is weary from three years exploring the final frontier and Kirk is seriously considering a desk job as he is tired of the "episodic" nature of his space tour. However a rescue mission intervenes and the crew goes into action. From there it hits the fans as the trailers have shown as the Enterprise is hit by an enemy unlike any encountered before in the franchise. From there its all action as the crew fight for survival against an unknown enemy.
As part of the fight, the bridge crew get separated and join together in teams not used before, even in the original series. This allowed for each character, and actor, to have a moment to shine on screen in effective ways. In the case of Bones and Spock, it means a few bro moments that will hopefully finally bring together the Star Trek trinity that the movies have hinted up but mostly avoided. Spock especially gets a few key moments, driven by the death of Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy). The big bad of the piece, Krall, is actually a pretty typical Star Trek villian. The motivations eventually get explained and the reason why is less "oh my!" and more "again?" but that is actually ok as he does fit in with most of Star Trek villains through the last 50 years.
The script by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung does the difficult dance of trying to please all fans at once, both the die hards, the casual, and just the plain curious. Those with high level of Star Trek knowledge will get a kick out of reference to Star Trek: Enterprise era canon and those with no knowledge will be able to follow along just fine. Pegg's love of Star Trek shines through at every moment he could allow it. Per the Star Trek tradition, a lot of situations get handled with techno-babble. Not a knock as it wouldn't be Star Trek without techno-babble solutions. Ultimately its things like that that make this work. The solutions, and how characters handle each situation, fits both Star Trek and the character. Kirk uses brawn, Spock uses brain, Bones is sarcastic but willing to help, Sulu flies like no other, and so forth. Despite the high level of action, it all felt like it fit a Star Trek world.
A week ago I am not sure I would have said this, but now, I hope Justin Lin changes his mind and directs Star Trek 4. He brought an excellent visual quality to the film and his use of the swarm in the finale was inspired. I don't know whose idea that was but hat tip to them (have to see it to know what I mean). Even the use of Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" which from the trailers feels like might be corny works wonderfully because of directing, editing and excellent VFX, something that is consistent throughout the entire movie. He gives action moments a chance to breathe, keeps the action clear and almost at no point are you confused about what is going one all the while without relying on shaky cam laziness. Something other action directors could take lessons on. The movie attempts a theme of unity and family but it is ultimately about the action which Lin is very good at executing.
The score by Michael Giacchino remains excellent with a mix of new and old themes. The film does acknowledge the passing of Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin in the credits with a literal moment of silence. They come after Star Trek Main Theme and credits at the end so you will have to wait a few minutes to see them.
To put it simply, the film is fun and highly entertaining. I highly recommend it for Star Trek and non Star Trek fans alike. It doesn't surpass Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan which for its era still had that better balance of action and characterization (on its nothing budget) but I easily put this one in Star Trek: First Contact territory.