Sunday, August 21, 2016

We Agree-ish: Star Trek Beyond

2016, Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow) -- cinema

I am struggling mightily to put together my thoughts on Star Trek Beyond, primarily because I was so distracted while watching it. A combination of needing new prescription glasses and the first half of the movie being so bloody dark kept me from fully enjoying. Beyond the usual complaints about the dulling down of non-3D movies because of the projector technology, the entirety of the first half of the movie seemed to choose to be constantly in shadows.

If anything stands out in memory about the first Abrams movie, it was the stand-out lighting (no, not lens flares) of the Enterprise. All that white! All that bright, clean light! For some reason, Justin Lin decided that every scene was to either be lit by a night light, or have impenetrable shadows dominating the shots. I was literally waiting for the movie to reach the planet, just so I could determine if the theatre was back to fucking with the projection. I still have to see it again, in another cinema to fully determine/enjoy. Maybe that new wrap around experience?

So, the third of the Abrams movies, this time directed by Justin Lin of the Fast/Furious franchise. Kirk and company are in year three of their five year mission, but that is just a toss away connection to the original series and completely irrelevant. Like Enterprise, they may be out there but that doesn't mean familiar space isn't just around the corner. In this instance, it's the Yorktown, a megalopolis in space. This is how space stations were meant to be envisioned, sitting at the edge of known space (or in this case, an unexplored nebula), but a centre of life & commerce, and MASSIVE.

The Enterprise is docking there for some leave and for Kirk to second guess his whole purpose in life. He's a captain, did he really ever want to be one, maybe its time to step away. Enter counter-reason. But let's stick with that premise. We know he joined on a dare, we know he didn't really respect Star Fleet. But bored?  Really, bored?  Sure, insert episodic joke but I cannot believe that flying around in the Federation's flagship would ever be boring. Alas, Kirk with his annoying big(ger) hair jumps at the chance to help a random alien seeking their assistance and heads into some dangerous nebula next door.

"It's a trap!" shouts the alien member of the crew in the wrong movie. No, not really, but my brain did. But the attack, and the inevitable destruction of the Enterprise is quite impressive / disheartening. Holes are punched by a hive-like attack of smaller ships that come out of nowhere, in a massive swarm. The Enterprise is literally torn apart and the crew, like Kirk's father's crew before him, have to abandon ship.

This is where the real movie began for me. They all fall onto a planet, captured by the Bad Guys and set to some sort of mining. Really, I had no idea why they were sent there. Krall, the reptilian leader who is definitely (and disappointingly)  not a Gorn has An Agenda, and it involves some Red Herring Kirk ended up with from the prologue. Capturing passing ships and forcing their survivors to do something is just part of it. Its bigger, Evil-ler.

Helping the crew, or should I say helping Scotty, is the capable, confident and beautiful white white white with a bit of black skinned alien Jayla. But damn, is she a capable supporting character. As Kent pointed out, she is not not duplicitous in any way, which is a bit of a relief considering the way most secondary characters run these days. I had to chuckle at her, as she was not a sex interest for Kirk but a counterpoint for Scotty, played by Simon Pegg who happened to have a heavy hand in writing this one. I don't begrudge him Mary Sue-ing this interaction at all.

I enjoyed the movie as much as I could. But I am not sure where this movie sits in the mythology of the Star Trek, now Franklin Timeline world. It did not contribute much to the expansion of the characters. It did not really expand the world of the Federation, beyond the insert of the Five Year Mission toss away comment. Where next?  Guys, please work on doing more than exciting spectacle!

I will end by letting Graig's comment on the whole resolution stand. I have nothing to say on it, as it barely made an impact. It looked cool and made a cool poster.

And I know I have to see it again.