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Monday, August 31, 2020

Star Trek Reviews: Star Trek Beyond

I was unable to find a way to watch Star Trek Beyond before I wrote my seven-part review of Trek media. Not without spending money I couldn’t really spare, at least. None of the services I have had it… Except one, which streamed it on a schedule, rather than on demand. I finally caught it at the right moment to watch it from the beginning.

See the first review post for links to the other six reviews and an explanation of my letter-grade ranking system. The short version: C is average, something I have no strong feelings about one way or another. To avoid uncontrollable rage, please remember: Average is not Bad. It’s just average. You might want to compare this review to those for the other two Trek Reboot movies

Star Trek Beyond

Rating: C-

I’ve had some people tell me Star Trek: Into Darkness is better than the first JJ Abrams movie and that Star Trek Beyond is crap. I’ve had other people basically say the opposite: Beyond is the good one, Into Darkness is crap.

I kind of wound up in the middle.

At first, the same thing happened as when I watched Into Darkness: I thought, “This is going better than the first Abrams Star Trek movie.” But then it went bad.

The plot and story of Beyond wasn’t as compelling as Into Darkness, but also it didn’t take as sharp a turn into badness near the end as Into Darkness did. Instead, we have continual low-grade storytelling mistakes. They all seem to fit the same pattern, though: the screenwriters had figured out a reason for each thing that happens in the movie, but they frequently don’t bother to tell us this reason until after it doesn’t matter anymore.

  • We don’t know what Spock wanted to tell Kirk in the elevator or why he felt uncomfortable about it for almost an hour.
  • We don’t know the dumb mcguffin at the beginning of the movie has anything to do with the rest of the movie until about halfway through, when we find out Kirk kept it and the bad guy wants it at the same time.
  • We don’t know that the bad guy wants to attack the Federation until a little after that point, and we don’t know why or anything about him and his people until the very end.

The result is that we just see a string of events happening on screen and we don’t know why we should care about them, except on the gut level of “It’s danger!” And more importantly, the characters don’t know why they should care about what’s happening, either, until a good chunk of the movie is over. The characters are reacting on a gut self-preservation level, too.

This might still be salvageable if we cared about the characters, but after three movies, I still don’t feel that the new Kirk feels likable. He seems to have a personal arc in this movie, deciding in the end he doesn’t want to quit exploring, but I have no idea why. It could be “because he finally had an adventure”, but from what we could see at the beginning, he’s been having adventures all along.

So, in the final analysis, I ranked this the same as the other two “reboot” movies: just below average. Not worth recommending, and I’m certainly glad I didn’t pay anything extra, but also might be worth watching if it’s on TV and you have nothing else to do. I think I like Into Darkness the most of the three movies and the first one the least, but it’s all so very close, it might not be worth making a distinction.

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  1. best part of the new movies is Karl Urban's god-level McCoy

    1. I do think the new McCoy isn't too shabby, and whassisname Quinto is pretty good at being Spock, even if the script isn't always good at writing for Spock.

    2. ... And specifically, I think the Spock/McCoy scenes in this movie were some of the best parts.