First let me refer you to my review of Into Darkness, which includes my fan credentials (die hard through “Next Generation,” whereupon I realized this could go on forever and I had other things to do).
Re-reading that, I remembered how I complained about the preponderance of explosions and how I hoped the franchise would move past that soon. Which doesn’t explain why I liked Beyond as much as I did, because it actually doubled down on them.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
This is directed by Justin Lin, who evidently did a Fast and Furious movie, which I’m glad I didn’t know going in or it would most definitely have prejudiced me (but I think his input was tempered with an outstanding script by Simon Pegg).
The plot itself can be summarized in a clichéd-sounding tagline: The Enterprise is lured to a mysterious planet where they face their most dangerous enemy yet!
But in the history of the series, the number of villains that were actually interesting and posed any serious challenge could be counted on one hand: Khan (whose potential was squandered in Darkness), the Borg (my personal favorite), and possibly Q (who evolved into a creature too congenial to be considered truly threatening).
Krall stood a good chance of joining that pantheon. A mysterious figure with mysterious motives, with an unexplained power to drain people’s life force vampire-like, and a fleet of “bees” that vivisects the Enterprise in a matter of minutes seemed impressively formidable (SPOILER ALERT, he’s defeated without hope of a reprise).
The movie is full of magical technology. I’m a medical transcriptionist, not a scientist! But I’m pretty sure a lot of the things that happen aren’t scientifically possible, even in a futuristic society. But they make for some gorgeous visuals and stunning action that help you forget that a little (including a classical music sequence that’s more or less worth the ticket price alone).
Yes, there’s lots of action. But there’s also a lot more witty banter (especially between Spock and Bones), as well as much juicier parts for the whole bridge crew compared to previous films in this timeline (nothing like totaling the ship to give characters something to do besides sit at a computer console the whole time).
There are also exceedingly touching moments, like the now gay Sulu meeting his partner off ship and walking off with his arm across his waist (and you’d think they were shown having full-on anal sex the way the internet exploded); or, my favorite, Commander Spock receiving news of Ambassador Spock’s death (and given Zachary Quinto’s affection for Leonard Nimoy in real life, it’s hard to believe those tears were all thespian skill).
I think I just have to face the fact that, as much as I preferred the quiet, character-driven episodes on TV, they don’t translate to summer blockbusters well.
If this review seems awfully superficial, I’m only doing the movie justice. It bugged me that I still enjoyed it despite its shallowness. Then it came to me: it’s not that it’s a bad Star Trek film, but that it’s a great action film I never would have watched without the Trek brand on the poster. And, as many reviewers have pointed out, the “trekiest” of all the new movies so far. It left me feeling much more satisfied than the other two, at least.
However, I did notice a deeper layer that might have been missed by others, which unfortunately will require a SPOILER. I’ll put this photo in as a divider.
Okay. We eventually learn Krall is ex-military, who had known only conflict and struggle all his life and couldn’t accept a universe of peace under The Federation, and in fact saw peace and unity as weakness. This reminded me of the Middle East, where it seems they’re bent on being at war for the duration of earth’s existence. In fact, Krall’s base looks like Iraq, with high tech weaponry set up in rough desert/mountain terrain. I would have liked to see this explored a bit more, as I wonder about the mentality that prefers to keep fighting over working for peace, but by the time we get this far in the movie it’s way too late for that. And I doubt the director of Fast and Furious movies has the answer to world peace anyway.
HERE ENDETH THE SPOILER
I also have a quick little throwaway review of “The Crooked Man” on Syfy.
This caught my eye instantly because what I didn’t say specifically in my Conjuring 2 review was the crooked man monster scared me the most in the whole movie. Perhaps needless to say, this Syfy version is a waste of time. I watched about half in bed in the dark (my new method to heighten the mood) and I got absolutely nothing out of it. Didn’t even finish, because if you can’t scare me in those conditions, it’s plain not happening. Stick to sharknadoes, Syfy.