2016, Movies

Star Trek: Beyond (2016, Justin Lin)

For some reason, I have yet to see the first movie of this Star Trek reboot. I’ve seen Into Darkness and I didn’t love it. And I must say the things I didn’t love about Into Darkness and present to a degree in Beyond. But I seem to have come to terms with them better. Because this time, it wasn’t so much the rebooted Star Trek that I had issue with but more some general filmmaking problems.

I guess I’ve come to terms with how closer these films have moved to action films. Fine, whatever. And I will say that this feels to me a bit like a classic Star Trek adventure both in its (transparent) mystery and the generalities of its plot: the Enterprise goes to an unmapped area of the universe and discovers something new and (inevitably) mendacious. That’s all well and good. (Well, except the part where I guessed the mystery the moment they hinted at it.)

But the film is a long two hours. There are essentially three action set pieces which could function as climaxes. Yes, this is a function of modern action movies, but it’s kind of exhausting, especially as they follow each other one after the other – and we know how they are going to end, obviously, as this is Star Trek.  I didn’t find any of the three particularly compelling, and having all three in a row made the pacing feel off.

The bigger problem is the mcguffin (thanks Jenn!) at the centre of the film. They never deal with it, really, and when they finally reveal what it is, the weird visual they use to display something that shouldn’t have a visual aspect (as I understand it) looks suspiciously similar to the swarming ships, i.e. they used the same visual idea.  I am left wondering if they could have come up with something else in its stead – an actual weapon – that would have made the plot work.

There were lots of other little nitpicky things I noticed during the film – some of which felt like callbacks to the TNG films but also could have just been recycled ideas – but I didn’t write them down.

It’s fine, I guess, but it didn’t really hold my attention enough and I feel like they went through this big adventure story for a silly climax (on top of two other climaxes) when they payoff could have been much better.


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