Review: STAR TREK BEYOND
I know – this is a horror blog.
So why on EARTH am I using up space on this page talking about a sci-fi action film?
The answer is simple.
I’M A HUGE NERD.
And I’ve been been dying to talk about the movie, so I figured what the hell.
I’ve been a Star Trek fan since my big brother Don sat me down to watch the original series with him back in the early 70’s. The show was in reruns then, on its way to cementing its legendary status within pop culture and sci-fi circles. The Saturday morning animated continuation of the series was still on the horizon, (I own that on DVD in a sleek white box) and the first feature film was still years away, but it was clear even then that Trek, despite being canceled, wasn’t going away any time soon. The reruns of the original series flourished on TV for decades. Gene Roddenberry’s “Wagon Train to the stars” was towing a helluva lot of passengers, and they could be found in the hundreds of Star Trek conventions that were popping up all over the USA. As with Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone, Trek was now so ingrained in the lexicon of pop culture it was now Americana.
Over the years, Trek spawned not only a highly-successful, if uneven, feature film series, new TV series arose to slake the unquenchable public thirst for more journeys to where no one has gone before. I remember literally shaking with excitement as Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted in 1987. Even now, I was all aflutter watching the recent teaser trailer the latest incarnation of the series, the forthcoming Star Trek: Discovery.
I’ve been equally giddy over the feature films as well, trekking (sorry) to the theater to see every one of them beginning with Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979. They were an uneven lot, but when the films got it right – oh, boy – did they ever get it RIGHT. Star Trek: TMP may have been a boring slog of a thing, but 1982’s Wrath of Khan hit a high-water mark that just may never be equaled!
The prime lesson from the early Trek film franchise?
If Star Trek is going to work on the big screen, the movies need to be action-oriented. The purely exploration themes that Roddenberry preferred over fisticuffs and phasers were better suited for the television plots, although an argument can be made when considering episodes such as “The Space Seed” from the original series, or “The Best of Both Worlds” from The Next Generation. Those stories were intelligent and action-packed.
Which brings me to the latest Trek film – STAR TREK: BEYOND.
Now, if you’re one those Trekkers that just doesn’t care for the J.J. Abrams “reboot-iverse,” then you probably will hate the movie. Just like you hated Into Darkness and the first one. I personally don’t understand the vitriol leveled at the new films, but hey – that’s your thing. If you don’t dig it, you don’t dig it.
For those of you who have liked the “reboot-iverse,” you’re going to enjoy Beyond. It’s a better movie than Into Darkness, and just like the ship Kirk and crew use in this one in place of their beloved Enterprise, it’s a stripped-down hot rod of an adventure, not surprising given the film’s director, Justin Lin, who helmed three movies from the Fast and the Furious franchise. The sharp script, written by Simon Pegg (Scotty) and Doug Jung, brilliantly captures the family dynamic that the original cast and characters shared. The action is punctuated with humor and heart, and despite the villain being a bit generic and almost beside the point, Idris Elba gives dimension and plenty of menace to the character.
Star Trek: Beyond has a lot in common with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, only with a more balanced approach to the action and humor. This being the “reboot-iverse,” there’s also an excellent opportunity for the film-makers to correct a rather large mistake (my opinion) from the “Shatner-verse,” and that issue gets handled pretty ingeniously, (again, my opinion) paving the way for the remainder of the films for this current version of the Star Trek film franchise.
This being the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, Beyond is loaded with Easter eggs that both the casual fan and hardcore Trekkers alike will have fun discovering. There’s also a touching tribute to Leonard Nimoy, and a haunting acknowledgment of the tragic passing of Anton Yelchin, who did such a great job portraying Chekhov. We’ll have to wait until the next film to find out if Paramount continues the character with a replacement actor, or (please God NO!) writes off Chekhov altogether.
Either way, the stage is set for more Star Trek adventures on the big screen.
I’m on board for the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise. I hope Paramount Pictures has their phasers set to FUN.
Thanks for reading, Deadies!
Next post will DEFINITELY be about horror.
Live long, and prosper!