Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Star Trek Beyond

I saw it over the weekend and the short version is that if this had been the second movie instead of the third the series would be in better shape.  It's just a better movie in pretty much every way. I'm keeping the spoilers light so if you've seen the trailers I don't think anything new is revealed here.

Some High Points:

  • It's very respectful of Trek history. Canon matters if you want to call it that.
  • Kirk is less of an impulsive maker of bad decisions here. This Kirk has a little maturity and seems more like TOS Kirk than he has before.
  • There are lots of nice little character moments in the film that feel true to the characters
  • The new character is decent. If she shows up in the next movie then she adds a lot more interesting. If she's a one-off, well, OK.
  • The villain was more interesting than I expected. He's not original Khan, but he's not bad.

Some Nitpicks:
  • That space station is just ridiculously huge. Why would you build a station of that size in the middle of nowhere? Is it a deliberate effort to show how tiny the Enterprise is? If it takes a year or more to build an Enterprise type ship how long did it take to build that thing? It bothered me every time they showed it. 
  • A lot of the movie takes place on one previously unknown planet - a LOT of the movie. You only get so many shots at a movie and I'd like to see a little more of the universe than we did in this one. The station almost made up for it and this isn't a huge deal, more of a wish list kind of thing. 
  • The results of the attack used late in the movie seems like a stretch, even for Trek. I get jamming frequencies to stop enemy coordination - that part I can accept - but the resulting explosions seem difficult to explain. Not critical to the plot but kind of a "how did that work?" moment after the movie ended.

One overarching thing for me: A lot of the impact of the movie depends on us caring about these characters and the ship and the universe. If they had done this as the second movie as I suggested above it wouldn't have worked as well because we would only have had the one prior movie with them. This is the third movie and much like the thrid original cast movie the Enterprise gets blown up and the crew is in trouble. The reason that mattered so much then though is that we had years of TV series to build those characters up. We don't have that with this cast and it does still feel a little "light". It's certainly possible to establish characters and relationships in a movie or three (see Iron Man and the Marvel Cinematic universe) but I'm not feeling it as much here. This is probably where being "Star Trek" hurts it for me because I am constantly comparing it on some level with all of the Trek leading up to this and it's never going to reach the depth, the level of experience, that those previous casts had. Comparing 3 movies to roughly 100 hours of movies and TV shows for those other teams is not fair but I can't help it because it's "Star Trek 9th Edition*" not "Space Cruiser Enterprise 1.0".   

So I liked it, a lot more than the last one. It feels like they are finally off and running and doing their own thing. They are moving in the right direction and I'm glad they are making a 4th installment as there is still a lot of interesting and entertaining stuff they could do in this version of Star Trek.

* Rationale:
  1. Original Series
  2. Animated series
  3. Original Cast Movies
  4. Next Generation
  5. Next Gen Movies
  6. Deep Space 9
  7. Voyager
  8. Enterprise
  9. New Trek
  10. (New CBS Series ST Discovery)


thekelvingreen said...

I've been musing about seeing this one. People seem to be saying it's the best of the three, but I didn't like the first one and hated the second one, so I don't know if it's enough of an improvement to be worth watching.

Blacksteel said...

Well if you hate the cast then you're not going to like this one.

If you didn't like the look of the thing. Well, this one looks more hi-tech trek to me so you might like it.

If you didn't like the story this one is better so there's that at least.

It also feels less rushed than the second one - they are focused on telling one story and not cramming in a bunch of shallow nods to stuff so that's better too.

thekelvingreen said...

I enjoyed the first one right up until the last ten minutes or so, which soured the whole thing for me. The second one was just a total nonsensical mess that looked like it was rolled randomly.

So... I should like the third one better?

Blacksteel said...

I mostly liked the first one and came to dislike the second one more the more I saw it and the more I thought about it. I mostly liked this one, so I'd say it's possible at least.