I did not like “Star Trek Into Darkness.” To be honest, I really am not a big fan of the whole grim-dark thing that a lot of male geeks in particular love to lap up. At this point, it’s overrated and overdone to the point where even Superman’s gone dark. As someone who grew up watching “Star Trek” (as in, the original series) with my dad, I felt a huge disconnect between the source material and what ended up playing out on screen–and that’s not even beginning to touch on the whitewashing of Khan in Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the character.
Fortunately, “Star Trek Beyond” is an incredibly different movie from the one that came before it. This review is mostly spoiler free, but if you’re worried, wait to click “read more” until after you’ve seen the movie to decide whether or not you agree with me.
I watch an honestly appalling amount of movies, but I justify the movie-watching habit because, for one thing, I don’t spend a significant amount of money on any other luxury anymore (even books being mostly free or at least at reduced rates now), and for another, we all have to do something to get out of our own skulls.
As a consequence, however, I don’t have very high expectations for the movies I see. This keeps me from being too disappointed when they’re bad and allows the thrill of being proven wrong. I went into “Beyond” not expecting much. I knew that the creative team had a significant change up (which I assume might have to do with Abrams’ involvement in “Star Wars,” but don’t quote me because I don’t actually know), and I knew that Simon Pegg had some hand in the script.
Please, please see this movie.
We’ve got a few movies that have to do with picking sides and a few that have to do with the election year at hand (and I have a lot of nasty words to say about the trailers for the new “The Purge” installment, but that’ll be later). That said, I’m not sure any of them are as timely as “Star Trek Beyond.” It’s one thing to pick a side and defend it even if you might be wrong. I can get that story from CNN, and I shouldn’t have to shell out $13 for a movie ticket to watch the same thing on a smaller scale.
“Star Trek Beyond” is a movie about unity, though. It’s a movie about knowing that we as a society are capable of being better and that, to quote Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan, we are “Stronger together.”
I would have written this article last Saturday after seeing the movie, but I’m glad I waited, because it’s even more clear after a week straight of watching the DNC on CNN what I need to say about it.
There was a news report somewhere about a guy pulling a gun on a kid who wouldn’t stop kicking his seat while he was in a showing of the movie, and I’ve got news for him: Guy, you’ve missed the entire point of this movie. Clearly, this is not a movie you were going to get in the first place. Kirk goes on about how it’s better to die saving a life than to live after taking one–don’t you get it? It’s not even difficult critical thinking–the movie literally spells it out for you.
That’s not to say that this movie doesn’t have flaws; towards the beginning of the film, a lot of the acting feels kind of jolting in a bad way, and I felt particularly that Karl Urban was weak here, playing DeForest Kelley playing Bones rather than just…playing Bones. There are a few lines that feel weird, and it takes a little bit to get into the actual feel of the movie.
Back when the trailer came out, a lot of people were complaining about the fact that the Enterprise gets destroyed, but I really didn’t think that was a drawback and in fact, even after its crash, the Enterprise still plays a major role. Another thing that I thought was really well done includes the soundtrack and the use of music (especially the use of one song in particular). As a movie, it reminded me of the original series in a way that felt, for the most part, right.
The vibe of the entire movie is so different from “Into Darkness” though, and that’s what I think might be one of the most important aspects. In the future, even when things appear to be hopeless, “Beyond” reminds us that they’re not. It isn’t as though “Beyond” is filled with overwhelming optimism, but it reaffirms a vital issue that we’re facing at this moment: If we want to be better, we have to do better. Kirk is as he should be in that he believes in the best of people, and he’s willing to make the sacrifice if it means saving everyone else. No longer is he motivated just by his father’s shadow, but by his own volition.
In all stories, some part of the villain is a reflection of ourselves, and that is still the case in “Beyond,” which makes it even more frightening and real. What happens when we choose violence? We’ve seen it before. We’ll see it again if we cannot challenge ourselves to stop.
I think about Donald Trump, who wants to “Make America Great Again,” but says that if he could, he’d punch everyone who said anything about him at the DNC, sounding more like a two year old than a presidential candidate. I think about what is happening in Europe, about the U.S.’s own likelihood of remaining at war with various nations for indefinite and seemingly interminable amounts of time. I think of the violence at home.
Can’t we do better than this? The team behind “Star Trek Beyond” thinks we can, and maybe it’s too idealistic, but until proven otherwise, I think we can, too.