Star Trek Beyond (No Spoilers)

Stardate 201607.23. The Enterprise orbits a strange planet, where the Captain has to negotiate some treaty. Crew member X gets into trouble, and the rest of the crew have to go rescue them. A mystery is encountered, the crew adapts, they all are saved and gather on the bridge at the end. Formula for a Star Trek episode.

The only difference between TOS and TNG (as Trekkers like me call them) is in TOS, Kirk has a love interest, ends up with his shirt off, and puts the beat-down on the enemy (or Spock saves him). In TNG, Picard cerebrally thinks his way out of the problem, and the ensemble crew works multiple plot lines.

Where the two series borrow each other’s rhythms and melodies, there’s discord. It’s a bit off. Star Trek Beyond is great. The special effects, plot lines, and overall wicked coolness live up to the name. There’s also a particular directorial bent these days to see who can come closest to destroying the Enterprise, or outright obliterate it. No spoilers here, but you’ve seen the previews and the film doesn’t disappoint.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, was another great movie that was a bit off. ST:Generations was a bit off, because it was awkward–though fun–seeing the two captains together. Beyond had that same “borrowed” feeling. The whole fabric was a bit ensemble. It was all action, but the story line around Kirk was a bit–ehh–cerebral and emotional, without any of the Kirk-on-a-planet plays you generally find.

This was more the Spock, Scotty, and McCoy multiple thread movie. Off a bit, like ST:VI. (No knock on ST:VI, it might be the most underrated great ST movie ever, but I’m speaking as a confirmed Trekker.) “Off,” in my parlance, means out of character, or failing to develop the characters in a natural way–contrived to fit a storyline borrowed from the ST galaxy, but a different arm.

Imagine having Robert Picardo’s Emergency Medical Hologram (a main character in ST:Voyager) appear in ST:First Contact, but having a major plot line versus the cameo he actually received. That would be very much “off.” Far more than the sins in Beyond, but hopefully that gives you an idea of what I mean.

The story line in Beyond would have, in my opinion (and without giving spoilers), been more suited to the TNG crew. If this new crew could remake the truly awful Star Trek: Nemesis (which basically it did in the first J.J. Abrams reboot), and the TNG crew could make Beyond, they both would have been better. Again, my opinion.

But I would have loved to see Beyond with a dash of Picard.

Plenty has been written about the surreal tragedy of watching Anton Yelchin on screen knowing about his pointless and calamitous death. The movie was dedicated “for Anton,” but primarily to Leonard Nimoy, whose death was used as a major plot point. One particular scene dealing with Spock/Spock Prime near the end (no spoilers) I thought exploited the rebooted-time-line aspect of the film to particular sappiness and abuse of the franchise (or was it an homage?). Not everyone agrees with me on that, but see it and judge for yourself.

I saw the film in IMAX 3D. When I saw the first reboot Star Trek in IMAX 3D I thought my head would vibrate off my neck from the sonic beatdown. But Beyond is much less jarring. The 3D is underwhelming, which is a good thing, because otherwise half the audience would vomit from vertigo. There’s plenty of movement without adding extreme 3D.

And the soundtrack is the best of any Star Trek movie. Ever. Trust me, but no spoilers here.

Go see Beyond, suspend enough disbelief to stop looking for plot holes (some gaping ones), and pretend you’re looking at a young Bill Shatner instead of Chris Pine–or better yet, pretend it’s a young Patrick Stewart. (No, that wasn’t a shot at Pine. He acted just fine, and as in-character as he could given the script. It was just a bit–off.)

You’ll have a great time–even if you’re a Scott Bakula fan. OK, I promised, no spoilers.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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