(Not spoilery at all, really)
Star Trek is a weird one. I’ve never considered myself to be a ‘fan’, as such, but up until “Enterprise”, I’d seen every episode all of it’s iterations. Even the cartoon series. It’s the programme I’ll stop at when channel hopping. But I don’t obsess about it.
I rather enjoyed the first of the recent reboot movies. JJ Abrams gave it a much needed boot up it’s complacent arse, then with Into Darkness, the ball was dropped and complacency wriggled its way back in, escaping the second swing of the boot.
Long story short, I went to see Star Trek Beyond with meagre hope that it would be anything approaching awesome.
Every minute of Star Trek Beyond is enjoyable in some way or another. The effects (well most of them), the cast, performances, the script sizzles. The big problem is that a lot of it simply isn’t necessary. It’s an incredibly flabby bit of storytelling where the minimal plot doesn’t kick in until about an hour in and then it’s explained over and done with indecent haste. As such it just feels incredibly empty. Enjoyably so, admittedly, but still empty.
Take for example the colossal opening salvo. It is incredible! Spectacularly well done, it’s an amazing feat of state of the art cgi based cinema. Watching it unfold is nothing short of glorious.
But it wasn’t needed.
It would have had much more punch if it had actually meant something. I mean, yes it did lead on – eventually – to the plot, but with judicious editing and an acceleration of pace in the aftermath, it would have had a much bigger emotional punch.
The first half hour of the movie seemed to be an exercise in showing the Enterprise from as many different angles as possible which got tiresome until the bad guys arrived; slightly ironic as the best bit, for me, was the final time-lapse shot. That brought a lump to my throat!
The script though is witty and clever. Typical Pegg really; lots of pop culture references, many sly references to Shatner’s Trek and some brilliant humour. (Look out for the big green space hand in the credits) But for what? Other than the opening action sequence, there never really felt like anyone was in any peril, there was never an edge-of-the-seat thrill and there was never any real ticking clock urgency. Something didn’t quite gel. Maybe it was the over long flight through Yorktown ’the biggest, most expensive most wonderful thing the federation ever built’. You might as well have just painted a target on it.
And some of the transportation system just looked weird, stretched and warped in the way that only poorly thought out CGI can manage.
Scotty seems to get a bigger cut of the action than he usually does. Probably because Simon Pegg was on writing duties. It seemed a bit disingenuous for Scotty to suddenly be the action hero and solver of all problems. Disingenuous or self-serving? Not sure, but one or both of them.
And what of the shock horror revelation that Sulu has a husband? After all the press and indignation from all quarters, it barely registered. If it hadn’t been such an issue, I don’t think anyone would have guessed. He showed enormous affection for his daughter and walked off with a guy with his arm around his waist. No smile from the husband, little in the way of affection.. Seemed more like brothers or father/son. Trying to create of controversy for the sake of publicity? That seems about right.
Idris Elba’s villain was well played, but unfortunately, his shock horror revelation was so thoroughly signposted/crowbarred in that it came as no surprise at all. I can’t deny that the spaceship murmuration was impressive, though; nor can I deny than the entire movie was utterly beautiful to look at; nor that the action sequences were stunningly directed.
But it doesn’t matter how much you decorate an empty box, the contents will always be a disappointment.
Much better than Into Darkness, though.