Thursday, July 06, 2017

Star Trek Beyond

I wouldn't have expected Alex to suggest watching a Star Trek movie, but here we are.

Three years into the five-year mission and some of the crew are reconsidering their life choices. They're sent out on what is ostensibly a rescue mission, but is actual a trap set by a guy named Krall and his swarm of little ships that send the Enterprise plummeting to the planet's surface. Most of the crew is captured, and the few who aren't have to team up with another survivor of Krall's attacks to rescue the prisoners and stop him, while being reliant on the remains of a long-lost Federation ship.

It was solid. I didn't enjoy it as much as Kong: Skull Island, but I was rarely bored. Kirk can't seem to help finding himself in freefall at some point in each of these movies. We get quite a bit more interaction between Spock and Bones than in the previous two films, which is of the good. I feel like Karl Urban gets McCoy a little better than Zachary Quinto gets Spock, but it's hard to articulate why, exactly. Best guess, I think of Nimoy as showing his human side more subtly than Quinto does. That could be how Quinto's being told to play it. Also, his Spock feels younger than even TV series Nimoy's did (Nimoy was about 35 when the show was on air, Quinto is 40 now), and has experienced all sorts of trauma Original Recipe Spock didn't have to deal with as soon, if at all (Vulcan blown up, mother dies when planet blows up, close friend dies, relationship with Uhura, meets awesome future self). So he just might be more overwhelmed. But, Bones and Spock are fun, regardless.

The action sequences were pretty good, maybe not a surprise with a director who's cut his teeth on the Fast and Furious movies, although it felt like there were an awful lot of them. Probably not any more than in the previous two films, but still felt like a lot. I admit that when it was apparent Kirk was going to try ramping a motorcycle to Jayla's rescue, I expected him to kick the bad guy in the face, ala Vin Diesel in XXX. Wrong extreme motor sports movie franchise, I know. It didn't happen, which is good. The bit where the Franklin "surfs" the wave of the attacking ships, with them blowing up in its wake was a bit much.

OK, some spoilers past this point. The movie is a year old, but it took me this long to see it, I'd understand if you hadn't made time yet. You're busy people.

Krall and his two lieutenants are actually the last survivors of the Franklin, altered somehow by their surroundings and living off the life energies of the people they capture to extend their own existences. Krall in particular, played by Idris Elba, was a former officer under the military precursor to the Federation, unhappy with his new role as explorer and diplomat. So that's two Star Trek films in a row where the crew faces a threat which disagrees with the approach Starfleet takes, and would prefer a more militaristic response.

Of the six earlier Trek films that were focused on the Original Series crew, only the sixth one really dealt with that idea, there being people within the Federation invested in not helping the Klingons, not moving away from an antagonistic relationship. Beyond that, the question seemed mostly settled. Starfleet explores, and if they absolutely have to blow something up, OK, but otherwise, no. Maybe it was more of an issue in the TV show.

The original series and its subsequent films are based on the idea humanity would get its shit together and stop with a lot of the pointless infighting, focus on a more unified approach. I don't think these current films are disagreeing necessarily, but they seem to be arguing that there needs to be more awareness of the potential for pushback from certain sectors. that we can't just expect the people who don't like the direction things are going to give up and go sulk in a corner. They're going to try and put things on the track they think we should be on.

Things feel more unsettled in this Starfleet, but I would imagine between Eric Bana's character wiping out a ton of starships in the first film, and then CumberKhan killing a bunch of senior officials in the second one, things have been a little unsteady the last few years. A lot of people getting shuttled up the ladder faster than they probably would otherwise. Like Kirk. Are we meant to take it that all this stuff is happening sooner than it did in the original timeline? That this crew shouldn't have been brought together on the Enterprise for some time yet? Might explain a few things.


SallyP said...

Wait...Cumberbatch isn't in this one?


CalvinPitt said...

Nope, no Cumberbatch, which was fine with me. Presumably he's still in deep freeze with the rest of his people.