Sunday, July 2, 2017

Star Trek XIII: Beyond

Longtime readers of this blog had to have figured this one was coming. For newer readers, in 2014 I reviewed one of the 12 Star Trek films each month and I somehow managed to stay on pace and review all 12 films by the end of 2014. 2016 saw the release of the third Star Trek film in the new ‘alternate’ universe, Beyond (trailer). I recall going into this movie at the theaters with a few different scenarios rummaging around in my mind.

One scenario had me trepid that this film saw the director of the most successful Fast & Furious films, Justin Lin at the director’s chair replacing JJ Abrams (who stayed on as a producer). Those films have always been a guilty pleasure of mine, but I was not sold that Lin would successfully transition from the blockbuster heist/racing/action beasts he was known for into the world of science fiction. Another part of me was a little hung up on the recent deaths of cast members Leonard Nimoy (original era Spock) and Anton Yelchin (Chekov) going into this film. Suffice it to say I did not go into this without reservations.

Beyond kicks off with Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) failing miserably making a peace offering to a new race they encountered a few years into the Enterprise’s five year exploration mission. After Kirk makes yet another dramatic, last-second escape the crew of the Enterprise make a pit stop on the space station, Yorktown for some much needed shore leave. It is there Spock (Zachary Quinto) discovers the news about the passing of the elder Spock (Leonard Nimoy). Kirk is also in the midst of a personal crisis and is considering stepping down as Captain so both of the Enterprise’s top officers are at a crossroads in their careers.

Kirk and Spock’s personal dilemmas get set aside when the Enterprise answers a distress call on an uncharted planet. This ultimately leads up to the Enterprise crash landing on the mysterious planet and the crew getting split up. This made for a unique twist on the film as we saw the primary cast team up with the supporting cast members in teams that ordinarily would not have happened and provided some interesting dynamics. Beyond has Kirk & Chekov on one end of the planet, and Spock & Bones (Karl Urban) on another side while Uhura (Zoe Saldana) & Sulu (John Cho) are imprisoned with the rest of the crew at the base of this film’s villain, Krall (Idris Alba). Scotty (Simon Pegg) finds himself isolated until he meets another person stranded on the planet by the name of Jaylah (Sofia Boutella).

Jaylah is a fun addition to the cast, and by the end of the film it appears she is going to be a mainstay among Starfleet. Her unintended dry humor provides most of the levity for Beyond and it cracked me up more often than not. For better or worse, she is the one responsible for a scene set to Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” Without spoiling the scene too much, they manage to kind of have a somewhat meaningful justification for their music, but the song overstays its welcome a smidge too long, especially when the Enterprise crew starts to nod along and mildly jam out to it….I am not kidding.

Naturally, there are a couple big action set pieces in the film’s final act. One is where the Enterprise crew reunites to make a retreat from Krall’s planet and a short while later while Kirk and friends are hot on the tail of Krall to stop his invasion of Yorktown. The CG and special effects do not disappoint in these showcase scenes, but it was the Krall himself who did not get me fully invested in these scenes as I would rank him among the weaker villains of the Trek films. Beyond tries to add some substance to Krall by diving into his origin toward the end of the film, but by that point it seemed too late for me to get invested in him and I was ready for Krall to meet his demise.

There are 17 behind-the-scenes extra features to indulge totaling a little less than two hours. If that is a bit much for you, than I would advise skipping around half of the features that go into the nuts and bolts of the CG, costumes, special effects and stage design. They are all well made, but those ones in particular I cannot help but feel are aimed directly at enthusiasts of those fields only. Divided & Conquered stuck out to me as the cast and crew talk about the challenges of having the Enterprise crew split up for a good portion of the film. Beyond the Darkness is another recommended extra as it is all about welcoming Lin to the director’s chair and introducing the new characters debuting in Beyond. For Leonard & Anton features countless testimonials from the cast and crew for what both actors meant to them and the franchise. Finally, I would recommend Live Long and Prosper because it is about celebrating Star Trek’s 50th anniversary and defining its legacy.

I hate to give it this distinction, but I would have to rank Star Trek: Beyond as the least enjoyable of the current era of Star Trek films. As stated above it was Krall not being an antagonist worth buying into that knocked the film down a couple pegs for me. There are still a lot of great moments and killer special effects throughout, and I am on board with Jaylah being part of the Enterprise team and I feel like she can be a great movie exclusive addition to the team much like Savik was in Star Trek II-IV. I thought Paramount did an admirable job at how they handled writing Nimoy’s Spock out of the film and the tributes for Nimoy and Anton during the credits were simple, but effective, and all I needed. I will conclude here as I did with all my previous Star Trek blogs with my individual ratings for each film so you can see how they all measure up.

Star Trek Film Ratings

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - 5/10
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - 10/10
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - 7.5/10
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - 9/10
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - 6/10
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - 7.5/10
Star Trek VII: Generations - 8/10
Star Trek VIII: First Contact - 9/10
Star Trek IX: Insurrection - 8/10
Star Trek X: Nemesis - 9.5/10
Star Trek (XI, 2009) - 10/10
Star Trek XII: Into Darkness - 9/10
Star Trek XIII: Beyond – 8/10

Additional Star Trek Blogs

Star Trek Evolutions and Captains Summit BluRay Bonus Discs

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Dirty Work
Fast and Furious I-VIII
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hercules: Reborn
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The War
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

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