Star Trek Beyond (2016)
Star Trek (2009) had the tagline, “Not your father’s Star Trek.” The sequel said; “In our darkest hour, when our leaders have fallen, a hero will rise.” That clearly makes no sense with the plot of the Into Darkness, but ok… Star Trek Beyond (2016) didn’t even have a tagline officially.
Of the three reboot films set in an alternative timeline where the point of divergence starts in 2233 in the Star Trek Universe. This is approximately 32 years before Kirk is supposed to assume command of the famed USS Enterprise NCC-1701. From this point, the characters, ships, technology and events are altered.
Star Trek (2009) plays on these parallels during most of the movie. So much so that the Universe trying to correct the issue is apparent throughout and almost feels like its own character.
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) tries to do the same thing. Where it was fresh, neat, creative and opens the doors to retell just about every single Star Trek point in a new and unique way in 2009; it falls flat on its face in the second film.
Star Trek (2009) was “a big dumb action movie,” with watering down our favorite TOS era crew to mere cartoon characters, shadows of the characters we grew up with. However, with that said, the story was solid enough and this same but different Star Trek worked out really well with leaving the door open for many more Trekin’ adventures with things we know and have seen but now can explore and rediscover.
That didn’t happen in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). I mean, they tried. They threw Khan in there but it doesn’t work. They literally made another dumb action movie but this time the script, story, characters, plot were all terrible. While there are things in the movie that are neat, the Vengeance for starters, most things just either do not make much sense and/or just poorly executed.
After the movie nosedived to be considered one of the worst Star Trek films produced, Bad Robot took a little bit of break from Star Trek to work on Rebooting Star Wars into feature films again. They repeated the process in Star Wars The Force Awakens (2015) and it actually worked for that film. However, the follow up, Star Wars The Last Jedi, produced by Bad Robot but not directed by J.J. Abrams ruined Star Wars so bad one would think they would have learned their lesson…
Yeah, not so much… Spoilers Ahead…
Star Trek had already been heavily compared to the Fast & Furious franchise and not in a good way. The comparisons were about how dumb the Fast & Furious franchise actually is. That all they are- are big dumb action movies with cartoon characters. That still holds true and it’s getting worse. Couldn’t even tell you all if people actually care or not as long Vin Diesel shows up with a white wife beater on and drives some old school muscle car…
So with all that at play, what does Bad Robot do? They hire Justin Lin, the director of five of the Fast & Furious films with one on the way. So, I guess the conversation went like this. “Hey the INTERNET keeps calling our Star Trek movies The Star and Trekious, let’s go hire the director of those movies.” I mean if it were I, I’d be wanting to distance myself as much as possible from the Fast & Furious. Yet, they made this move. They also allowed Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the Trek films to write the screenplay. This one move gave me hope that this Star Trek film would be pretty good.
And, well, it is good, but that is all it is- is good. It’s not great and I do not believe with this small contained story that it would be great. However, Pegg’s writing talent shows and makes a very basic story decent. The only really god awful thing was the villain. The villain wants revenge of sorts and he is a very basic cartoon character. We really do not care much about the villain and his motivations. That part was lacking immensely.
Again Star Trek throws in the familiar with the new but old tropes. Star Trek III, we must have the Enterprise blow up. We must have Spock fighting for his life and Kirk risking everything to save his crew/friends. Again, it does, but not that well. Not as bad as Into Darkness but still not as effective as it could have been.
Star Trek (2009) really opens the flood gates on where the plot of Star Trek can go in this alternative timeline but instead of doing that, they put Kirk, crew and ship in a bubble. Like the Last Jedi, Rise of Skywalker could not save Star Wars and even though Star Trek Beyond is much better than Into Darkness, Beyond cannot save Star Trek.
I was left very unsatisfied at the end, how everything came together. It was good, don’t get me wrong. Probably one of the better Star Trek films that actually feels like Star Trek. It’s the isolated story I have an issue with.
I suppose I will break down my grievances…
1) Characters: We have already talked about how cookie cutter/cartoon-like the characters have been from the first two reboots. They, well, Simon Pegg does a fantastic job of scaling back the characters a tad and flushing out more of the qualities that we love/loved about the main characters. Even Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu have something meaningful to do in this movie over being just background people with names/ranks that we are familiar with. There are several funny and touching moments in the movie that Pegg wrote for all the characters. The moment for me was this quiet little touching moment to pay some respect for the real life death of Leonard Nimoy. His death still bothers me to this day. One of the few celebrities that has passed in recent memory that left me bothered. Thanks for the memories Leonard…
2) The Enterprise: We have three newer Trek films and in all three the USS Enterprise gets her ass handed to her. It’s been established in Star Trek Lore that this Enterprise is much different than the original NCC-1701. The Kelvin timeline Enterprise was launched in 2258, is 725.35 meters in length (bigger than the Galaxy Class Enterprise-D), has Transwarp capabilities, enhanced shielding and weapons. Kirk assumed command in 2258 after Pike…
The original TOS Enterprise NCC-1701 was launched in 2245 under the command of Robert April, then Captain Pike in 2250, and then to Kirk in 2265. The shields and weapons were standard for the time and nothing special about those technologies would set this ship apart from other Constitution class starships of the era. Her warpdrive was also standard for the time. Starfleet had been developing Transwarp during this era but could not get the technology to work.
It is unknown what the specifics were, per timelime, that gave the Kelvin timeline a technological advantage. It has been said that all the sensor data recorded by the USS Kelvin before her destruction from the Narada was enough data to steer Starfleet’s technology in a new more advanced direction. This original Enterprise was 288.6 meters. This ship is almost three times as small and probably several orders magnitude weaker than the Kelvin timeline Enterprise.
In the Prime timeline we know the Enterprise is just another Constitution class starship. In the Kelvin timeline we do not even know if there are any other Constitution class starships besides the Enterprise. It’s never stated really how much time/technology divergence was created by the events of Star Trek (2009).
The point is, we are led to be believe that this version of the Enterprise is as tough as the TNG Galaxy class Enterprise-D. She should be able to hold her own with most of what is offered in Star Trek. The Narada makes short work of the Enterprise with one single torpedo strike that drops her shields to a forth. The Vengeance catches up to her, in warp, fires, while at warp and nearly destroys the ship. Star Trek Beyond, the Enterprise is decimated in the first few minutes of the movie and doesn’t even put up a fight.
We are told how advanced this Enterprise is several times over the course of two and quarter movies. Yet, she gets her ass kicked at every engagement. Embarrassing, even in storytelling. I will take that older, weaker, slower, littler ship any day.
They cover all that up by renaming an unnamed Constitution class starship that was being constructed during the events of Star Trek Beyond. This ship had no name/registry but was christened NCC-1701-A, USS Enterprise-A. As this happens at the very end of Star Trek Beyond we do not know the capabilities of this ship when compared to her predecessor.
Seeing the NX class ship in full theatrical presentation was beautiful. Just wish we could have told a better story about her.
I am not even being overly nerdy here… This is pretty standard lore for Star Trek, granted my explanation is a much abbreviated version of that. I am gonna assume that if you are reading this then you either like my writing style or prefer to have your Star Trek make sense.
3) Story: My biggest problem with the film is the specific story. The plot of that story is fine. I feel like based on the story presented, the plot makes sense. It’s just boring and feels like a bad villain in a two-parter. We didn’t need to go there. We could have found V’ger. The Doomsday device. A Romulin Bird of Prey attacking Federation outposts (Balance of Terror). There is so much material that could have been formed into a brand new story and still tell the story that was told in Beyond, with the characterization. I just feel like this faction in the film was weak and a waste.
I mean, really it’s just two guys and a shit ton of drones. I just feel like Star Trek Beyond was a wasted opportunity to go deep into the lore of Star Trek. This felt like a really long episode or two part episode with the touch of a film.
That isn’t a terrible direction for Star Trek to go, just wish they would have been more creative there. All that lore and you make up something else, just why, you know? They have done this before in Trek. One of the main reasons the TNG movies were so bad was vague villains and turning drama into action heroes. It didn’t work. The TNG films are not overly great but they are not overly bad either. If you just wanna enjoy Star Trek, then go and do that. You should. I did. Just don’t expect it to make perfect sense. It was simple, Star Trek the Motion Picture all the way up to Star Trek IV. Obviously Star Trek V had its troubles, but bounced back great in Star Trek VI. It sort of starts to fall apart after that.
It being right in the middle of the five year mission is a nice touch here. I do not hate that this movie feels like an episode just that Trek went deep when splintering off this timeline and we have yet to really engage in this Universe. Remember, this whole timeline is all about the events of the first minutes of Star Trek (2009). Everything has been changed and/or affected by this temporal wave.
They can really get into that. If they elect to keep going with Star Trek movies. Set course… Maximum Warp… Let’s see what’s she’s got! Punch It!
Star Trek Beyond (2016)
by David-Angelo Mineo