This time I’m reviewing Star Trek Beyond, the latest in the rebooted franchise and, as with my other movie reviews, I will be talking about the events in this movie (such that they are) so this review comes with a SPOILER warning. If you don’t want the movie spoiled then please read no further. Otherwise, onto the review…Oh, one more thing. There are quite a few acronyms in this review, sorry about that, but it’s necessary, I think. Right, the review!
I’ve been a fan of Star Trek since I was a teenager. Watching The Next Generation (TNG) at 6pm on BBC2 was something I loved and ‘The Best of Both Worlds’ (BoBW) remains two hours of the finest TV I’ve ever seen and the only part of TNG that I think still holds up really well today. Watching Picard become assimilated by the Borg was a seminal moment in my TV education and the seventh movie, First Contact, is not only my favourite Star Trek movie (yes, I know ‘Wrath of Khan’ is the better movie but I still enjoy First Contact more) but one of my all-time favourite movies. It helps that I saw it for the first time with my best friend and my brother and that we were the only people, besides a cinema staff member, in the screening. That was a fun experience!
My wife and I are also big fans of Deep Space Nine, I’ve seen it several times through, and actually we recently finished watching the series from the beginning again. DS9 has an impressive story arc, along with wonderful characters and, like BoBW, ‘The Way of the Warrior’ is also incredible TV. I never got on with Voyager and Enterprise is bloody awful, slow and pointless in my opinion. As for the movies, well The Motion Picture is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, as are the Search for Spock and the Final Frontier, but Wrath of Khan, Voyage Home, Undiscovered Country and the aforementioned First Contact are all superb. The entire run is something of a mixed bag and the movies that I haven’t mentioned are not really worth worrying about.
As for the rebooted franchise, well I have enjoyed it so far. I have seen each in the series in the cinema and I found the first to be an enjoyable romp of a movie that successfully brought Star Trek back to the mainstream, something that I thought would be quite difficult to do. Into Darkness continued that trend of pleasing both mainstream viewers and fans of Star Trek like myself, though I have seen reviews that have said that it divided fans. I liked that movie (especially as I hadn’t realised that Cumberbatch was Khan beforehand) although I did have a few little niggles (Tribbles, I’m looking at you!) and a friend of mine gave an impressively thought out dissection of the movie some time ago that did make me question whether it was as good as I had previously thought. I could find no flaws with his arguments either.
When I first heard that they had given the next movie to Justin Lin, the director of one of the Fast and Furious movies, I was concerned (and the trailers did little to assuage my concerns) but the reviews (including that of my go-to movie critic, Mark Kermode) were pretty decent and it seemed to be going down well with the reviewers. How wrong they were. Star Trek Beyond is bloody awful. It is a garbled mess of a movie with almost no discernible storyline and pretty much nothing of note or value. Yes, seeing the Enterprise destroyed is entertaining, but the trailer had completely spoiled that and we’ve seen it done before anyway. The villain (ably played by Idris Elba) is even less developed than those in the past two movies (why are ST villains always so one-dimensional, except Khan of course) and the plot is completely nonsensical. As for the plot-holes, well you’d need some sort of plot to worry about the holes in it and what little there is, isn’t worth mentioning.
But to give you an example of how awful this movie is, I offer this. There is a climactic scene where Kirk and his crew face the fleet that destroyed the Enterprise. And they do so in an ancient, wreck of a ship. This insurmountable foe is overcome by the application of the Beastie Boys ‘Sabotage’ track. Now, I have no problem with this, it’s silly goofy fun. What I have a problem with is that these ships, which are connected via radio waves, seem to spontaneously explode once their connection is cut. No explanation is offered and I think we are meant to assume that the ships that explode are crashing together. Yet, when this effect is shown again, the ships genuinely seem to be spontaneously combusting. This is awful storytelling that neatly fits with how ramshackle the rest of the plot is. Things like character development are ignored or placed into the category of ‘is that even what that character wanted’ an example being when a prominent female character is offered a place at the academy. Did she even want to go, was that mentioned, because I never heard it?
My biggest problem with Beyond is that it is just incredibly boring and though there seems to have a lot going on onscreen, it failed to engage with either me, my wife or my family, and I wonder how that is possible. The one moment that I enjoyed, when Spock looks at a picture of the Original Series crew, relied entirely on your affection towards said crew to get an emotional reaction. It worked for me but it did so because of my connection to those movies, and not because of Beyond, and also that I was aware that most of the actors in the picture have now passed away including, most recently, Leonard Nimoy. And when a movie has to rely on your feelings about characters in previous entries, then it is certainly failing.
The last time I was this disappointed by a movie that I paid to see in the cinema was Jurassic World, another turgid, mess of a movie, and that time, as with this one, I saw the movie with friends and family on a group outing. I wish I hadn’t paid to see this terrible movie and I certainly will not be ever watching it again. I have better things to do with my time and better movies to see and I would recommend that you do the same. To paraphrase Spock in Beyond, this movie is ‘horseshit’. Well put, sir, well put!
My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!