I’ve just got round to watching Star Trek: Beyond, the latest Trek movie, and I was mildly disappointed.
thoroughly enjoyed the first of the re-boot movies despite the fact that most
long-time fans are dismissive of it. And I thought the second one wasn’t that
bad even though die-hard fans tend to spit blood and start screaming abuse
about magic blood at the mention of the film. But this one had the approval of
the fans, so I was expecting to be entertained and yet I wasn’t.
on repeat viewings I might grow to enjoy it. Heck, I’ve learnt to find the good
in the Final Frontier and even the Motion Picture, but right now I’m at a loss
to find anything good to say about it. Yes, it was nice that Nimoy’s passing
was acknowledged. Yes, there are some scenes with McCoy and Spock bickering.
Yes, it was good that a main character was revealed to be gay, even though I
thought this supposed taboo was broken by Jadzia Dax and Garak’s interest in
Dr. Bashir over 20 years ago. But having more character moments when, for
instance, they involve McCoy flying spaceships, doesn’t get to the heart of why
these characters worked in the first place.
main problem, though, is the flaming CGI, which saps the life out of every
action scene and even the quieter scenes. A good example is the now obligatory
Enterprise crashing scene. When it happened in Into Darkness it was
over-the-top, but there was at least some feeling of peril and of it furthering
the plot. Either way, it was vastly inferior to the previous time the
Enterprise crashed in Nemesis, or the time before that in Generations. And they
were all considerably less interesting than the first time the Enterprise
crashed in the Search for Spock. Back then, the scene had only a few seconds of
special effects and so relied on tension and plot development and great
dialogue so that even the access codes are memorable, along with an iconic shot
of the crew watching the ship go down. Less is more, every time.
time round it took what felt like several hours for the ship to go down with
the camera swooping around all over the place running along the walls, ceilings
and floors before finally standing still for a millisecond to give us a hint of
what’s supposed to be happening, and by the time you’ve figured out that something could
be happening in engineering involving someone in a uniform and an alien, the
camera swoops off to confuse us somewhere else.
stuff has stopped swirling around the screen we reached the point in the story
that most Trek reaches before the opening title credits have rolled, and the
story that followed could have been a good one if we hadn’t have had to wait
for an explanation of what that story was until about five minutes from the end.
An old MACO soldier from season 3 of Enterprise getting disillusioned with
Federation policy and fighting back is a decent premise, but there’s no reason
to keep that a mystery until it’s too late to actually deal with the
The thing that makes the story telling in Trek work is that the
moral dilemma comes very quickly in the story and the tale then deals with an
attempt to find a solution that in bad Trek involves creating a subspace
inversion field in the positronic matrix, in good Trek involves everyone
agreeing that tolerance and finding common ground between divergent species is
the only way forward, and in excellent Trek has Kirk punching a man in a
monster suit and showing a green-skinned woman what pressing the lips means.
didn’t manage any of that because for most of its length there was no moral dilemma
other than how do the main characters find their way off a planet, while being
repeatedly interrupted by interminable CGI scenes where yet again I hadn’t got
a clue what was going on.
For me escaping from a planet isn’t a great hook for
a Trek story. Voyager did the very same plot at the end of season 2, except
they had a moral dilemma, had redshirts getting chomped by dinosaurs, Ensign
Suder’s redemption, Seska’s demise, with plenty of time left over for the
Trek message of tolerance and common understanding. In short, when I watch a
Trek movie and I start thinking to myself that Voyager did this better,