Friday, July 29, 2016

Review of Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek: Beyond, maybe? Anyone? Buhler? Star: Trek Beyond?
Trek Beyond, my friends
The third installment in the J.J. Abrams-led Star Trek reboot, this time directed by Justin Lin (so less lens flares!), and written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung. Starring oh who am I kidding you know who is in it. Idris Elba as Krall and Sophia Boutella as Jaylah are the requisite two non-returning cast members.

I'd say I'm going to avoid spoilers, but it's kind of impossible to spoil this move. Have you seen any action movie, ever? Beyond is spoiled for you. This is paint by numbers in as near a literal sense as a movie can make it. There isn't a single moment of real tension - I saw this pretty late at night, and was literally falling asleep during what were supposed to be very important action scenes.

It starts off with Kirk presenting some alien species with an artifact/weapon as a gift from another alien species. It goes hilariously sideways- oh, Kirk, you scamp- and Kirk is beamed comically back to the Enterprise, where comedy ensues. Is the artifact/weapon thingy going to be a key plot point? We are painting by numbers, here. Section 1 is blue.

This is followed by Kirk musing about being three years into their five year mission and some very on-the-nose exposition about the state of the crew (be ready to read the phrase on-the-nose a lot in the next few paragraphs), and they then proceed to resupply at a "snow globe in space, ready to be shattered", as Karl Urban's Bones puts it (Karl Urban is terrible in this. More on that in a bit). Is there any way that exact thing happens later? Paint section 2 red, please.

There is an alien scientist who needs her ship rescued because reasons, which leads to the Enterprise being destroyed in the one truly good scene in the movie (this movie would have been vastly improved if it was two hours of the Enterprise just getting WRECKED), and is actually one of the better Enterprise-getting-destroyed sequences out there.

Side note, why is the Enterprise always getting destroyed? That's gotta cost the taxpayers some money.

Anyway, people who are not redshirts are stranded and separated and it kind of goes from there. We meet the people we know we are going to meet, are betrayed by the people we know we're going to be betrayed by, saved by the people we know we're going to be saved by.

So the plot is boring - what about the cast? This new crew, they have chemistry, right? To which I say [shrug emoji]. Chris Pine is great, and he almost has enough charisma to carry everyone around them, who seems to have just woken up from a nap right before Lin says "action". Let's review all the main people (there is no one else in this movie for more than 30 seconds of total screen time).

Idris Elba as Krall: I love Elba with all my heart and soul, but dear god why did he do this movie? His character has no clear motivation or plan, and he does his best with what he was given, I guess?

Sophia Boutella as Jaylah: Definitely the highlight of the movie. She at least brought some energy to a character who they really really wanted to have an emotional, moving backstory (she does not) (more on that in a bit).

Chris Pine as Kirk: I love Pine as Kirk. He brings charm and charisma that is needed and doesn't just try to be Shatner. Mostly.

Zachary Quinto as Spock: The nap thing up there? THIS GUY. I think he's trying to do the cold, logical Spock thing, but it feels like he just woke up. Also, just using a bunch of big words to describe everyday things doesn't make someone LOGICAL. Stop doing that.

Simon Pegg as Scotty: Simon Pegg is funny as hell, just not in this movie, although he tries really hard to be. You know how you wake up from a nap and had a weird dream and you HAVE to tell someone and you do so really wide eyed and babble like a crazy person? That is the nap Simon Pegg woke up from.

John Cho as Sulu: John Cho is decent, and brings a little bit of smart-ass to the role. He also does a good job of not just trying to be Takei, but honestly, doesn't get enough screen time. He's basically an A-team redshirt, relegated to a few good moments while the cool kids do the heavy lifting. SULU SPIN OFF MOVIE PLS.

Zoe Saldana as Uhura: Can Uhura be more than "Emotional pull for the character who isn't supposed to have emotions" please? I guess she has that one other scene.

Anton Yelchin as Chekov: Is in this movie.

That's it! That's literally everyone who gets more than a minute of screentime! I'm all for a tight cast, but they all just fizzled. There was never a sense that anyone actually cared for each other, or felt like anyone had any motivation for doing anything except it's what the script said to do. Which brings me to my biggest complaint: this movie really, really, really, really wants you to know how great this crew is, and how they will do anything for each other.

This is achieved in two ways: one, by saying really profound, on the nose CREW things, like (to Jaylah) "that's what being part of a crew means." And secondly, by pretending the crew is an old married couple and not only having them finish each others sentences, but actually continue them, like they are Olympic level players of the game Telephone. This happens several times, it is annoying and stupid every time, but nowhere more than at the end where everyone gets a different line of the where no one has gone before speech.

Every single character in this only exists to remind you of their original counterparts. Karl Urban just hangs around and says Bones things, like "dammit, Jim" in his best growl. Spock and Kirk are BFFs, and you will never, ever forget it, because you are reminded of it (via on-the-nose dialogue) all the time. Chekov has an accent (this is the entire beginning, middle and end of his character). Scotty says funny things and barely manages to not wink at the camera while holding up a sign that says I WROTE THIS LINE. Sulu is actually the only character who has anything close to a progression, but somehow despite having eight cast members, it's still overstuffed and no one actually gets any depth.

I almost forgot- the other thing I hated was how everything is foreshadowed and important. Any object is key plot element. Anything a character says comes back around. The song that's in the bloody trailer? Sabotage? Literally the resolution to the whole movie. I'm all for tying things up, but damn. All of it, and you see it coming a mile away, and groan as Kirk gets a slow grin when he realizes what you had figured out fifteen minutes ago.

Also, there is a bad guy, and he has a plan? And a big weapon? I guess. Kirk stops him, though. That's not a spoiler; section 4 is yellow.

The Math:

I obviously did not enjoy this movie. That said, there were some fun parts. It was a paint-by-numbers action movie, so if you want to just shut your brain off for two hours... no, you know what? Still don't bother. Hellboy is on Netflix. Go watch that.

Overall: 4/10: Not very good

Bonuses:
+1 for wrecking the Enterprise in a cool fashion

Penalties:
-1 for a really stupid plot
-1 for having zero chemistry with what is supposed to be this great crew

Conclusion: 3/10: Just Bad. Seriously, do not watch this movie.

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