Star Trek Beyond was good. I enjoyed myself and left the theater looking forward to the next movie. On the way home began my analysis. I remember liking the first reboot movie but in hindsight there’s a lot of stupid shit in that movie. The lens flare, Kirk going from cadet to captain, people hanging off ledges, Sulu doing ninja moves with a Katana (my personal least favorite), the science bullshit with black holes, Kirk landing next to Spock conveniently near the Federation outpost. You know, stupid bullshit. In the end everyone has to decide for themselves how much they can take. It did not prevent me from liking the first reboot Trek. Into Darkness I liked more EXCEPT for that third act. Hoo boy. Maybe it wasn’t bad but it was distracting and took you out of the movie. Also for the sake of the franchise they couldn’t kill Kirk at the end of that movie. For the sake of the movie though, Kirk should’ve died and not been brought back with magic science blood.
Beyond is better than the first two movies.
As far as a plot synopsis goes, it is at this point I must declare Spoilerth. I spoiled myself on a couple things from the trailers and watching the Cinema Snob’s review for too long (and that is my fault completely). Point is, if I were you, I would recommend walking into this one as blind as possible. Don’t watch the trailers or commercials, don’t talk about it yet, go see it first. I recommend you go see it and don’t read further until you do. As Simon Pegg would say, Mary, I’m warning you, I’ll have to get physical, I mean it, this is it, FUCK OFF. Henceforth spoilers.
So the plot of the movie (which you saw, right?) is that The Enterprise is in Year 3 of its five year mission. They are headed for a space station called Yorktown for resupply and R&R. Kirk is thinking about taking a promotion and giving up flying around the universe. I thought this was a clever joke, how the original series was cancelled after three seasons. Now once again Kirk is ready to call it quits after 3 years. Ha ha. Also funny because I think at least three of the movies involve promoted Kirk, by hook or crook, getting himself back in charge of the Enterprise to fly around and have adventures.
Coincidentally, Spock is also thinking of quitting. When informed of the death of The Elder Spock, Quinto Spock believes he has a duty to return to the Vulcan people and help them rather than continue in Starfleet. I thought they were very tasteful in how they incorporated Leonard Nimoy’s death into this movie by using it as a catalyst for character change in Quinto’s portrayal of the character.
The Space Station/Starbase Yorktown looks like a cross between a city in Inception and Elysium. It apparently houses millions of people including Sulu’s family which, I guess I just assumed they lived on Earth?
A ship comes to Yorktown in distress. An alien says that their crew is stranded on a planet inside some kind of nebula/asteroid cloud. I thought a nebula was a cloud of gas. In this Star Trek nebula means a field of giant goddamn asteroids. The point is, the Enterprise takes up the call and flies out to rescue the people but the nebula creates a reason why they can’t scout the situation in advance or call for help if they needed to. You can see where this is going right?
Upon arrival they’re immediately attacked. Their attackers are in a shitload of tiny fighter ships rather than any capital ships like Nero or Admiral Marcus in the previous films. And they don’t just shoot, they SLAM into the goddamn Enterprise like missiles. They break off the engine and puncture the hull to board the ship. These guys utterly defeat the Enterprise. It is not even a close fight. They capture as much of the crew as possible, even snagging their escape pods out of midair. As they board the ship, their leader, a Bad Motherfucker named Krall, is seeking some sort of doodad the Enterprise has in their archive. Kirk hides it for a time but Krall eventually gets it.
The Enterprise crashes onto this planet. Everyone is separated. Scotty meets an alien named Jaylah who is so similar to Rey from Force Awakens this movie is risking a lawsuit. She (I should not say she because I have no idea how this species assigns gender) is an engineering whiz trying to fix up a ship to escape. Jaylah tells Scotty that Krall and his fleet attack every ship that happens by trying to find something (the thing on the Enterprise). Jaylah escaped but the rest of her family died at Krall’s hands.
The ship Jaylah is fixing turns out to be a Federation ship, the first Federation ship ever from Earth apparently. Using its transporter, they’re able to beam back all the main characters except Uhuru and Sulu who are captive with the rest of the surviving crew. Kirk and Co roll in and bust them out in an action scene using the motorcycle from the trailer. Problem is, Krall found the artifact and blasts off to destroy the Yorktown starbase.
The crew blasts off after them in the fixed up spaceship and destroys Krall’s fleet by disrupting their communications, flooding the airwaves with Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. Krall gets into Yorktown and almost activates the doodad. It is a superweapon that seems to work exactly the same way as the nanoforge from Red Faction: Guerrilla. Kirk stops him, Jaylah enlists in Starfleet, the Enterprise is rebuilt, everyone flies away.
I was able to write that synopsis without giving up the big twist of the movie. See I knew the villain of the movie was played by Idris Elba. And Krall is a big scary alien wearing makeup. But, the last commercial I saw for the movie spoiled the fact that Idris Elba, like, human without makeup Idris Elba is in this movie. So through the movie I was distracted since I knew Idris Elba was the villain of this movie but this guy Krall is an alien in makeup, not Idris Elba. It turns out that Idris Elba was the commanding officer on the ancient Federation ship a century or so ago, the one the crew fixes up. They crashed on this abandoned planet and found some sort of alien technology that allows Idris Elba to literally drain the life from people to prolong his own. This is why he tries to take people alive. The problem is it’s mutated him into a big scary monster for reasons. I guess the technology makes him look like whoever he’s draining life from until the end when he reverts to old man Idris Elba.
Also not explained in much detail where Krall’s fleet comes from. There were mining drones on the planet I guess? Between these guys and Nero’s Romulan mining ship apparently mining vessels in Star Trek are fucking badass. Why the hell is anyone even bothering with non-mining ships? Also, Krall has THOUSANDS of these goddamn drone warriors with badass weaponry. How the hell do six people free the crew of the Enterprise? There should be one drone watching every single one of those people at all times and they’d still have 500 left to fly the skies. There is no way this rescue should have worked.
These flaws were there but they seemed in keeping with the universe of Star Trek. Sort of like how in The Road Warrior and Fury Road, Mad Max is kind of a supporting character who happens by a main character. Star Trek has science bullshit that allows the crew to win the day. That’s what they do. It something I thought of on the ride home but watching the movie I was engaged and enjoying myself.
But getting back to Krall, if he’s is actually Idris Elba why does he speak an alien language even in private? Why does he go by the alias Krall instead of his human name? And most importantly, what the hell is Idris Elba trying to achieve? Idris Elba’s character was a military hero in Earth’s past. He was a highly decorated commander who found himself unhappy with the “peace” of the Federation. He seems to want to unleash this superweapon he’s been constructing on the universe to…achieve something? I honestly could’ve used another ten minutes of Idris Elba character building. He seems to lack the motivation of Nero, Khan, or Admiral Marcus. I get his beef with the Federation but I don’t understand why he’s taking this course of action to remedy it. He comes across as much more kill crazy and evil than the previous villains.
His motivations seem to be very similar to Admiral Marcus from Into Darkness except I thought Marcus was done better . Marcus did what he did specifically because he was worried about the Klingons. Despite Starfleet’s similarity to a space navy, as they remind us again and again, it is not a military organization. Marcus saw this as a flaw, Starfleet needed to be armed and ready to meet threats like the Klingon Empire. The Federation however, had seemingly left that ideology behind which is why he wanted to unfreeze Khan to design weapons and strategies. Idris Elba’s character is coming from a similar place where he has Khan’s cunning and Marcus’s belief that Starfleet needs to militarize. This is one reason I liked this movie more than Into Darkness. It is hitting on the same themes as the previous movie but without the Wrath of Khan baggage that derailed the last 30 minutes of the movie. It just would’ve been so much better if they spent a bit more time explaining that motivation.
I think that’s all I have to say. I liked the movie and it left me wanting more. I got a bit teary at the end when Spock is going through Elder Spock’s effects and finds a picture of the original cast, probably taken around the time of Undiscovered Country. Due to Anton Yelchin’s tragic death that picture won’t exist for the reboot crew in 30 years.
Okay I’m going to go hug my cat now. Go see Star Trek Beyond. Live Long and Prosper.