FlixChatter Double Reviews: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

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Ted’s Review

I don’t consider myself a Trekkie, I’ve seen all of the Star Trek films but never got into any of the TV shows. I enjoyed the first two films by JJ Abrams, even the much-maligned Into Darkness. When Abrams decided to jump ship and take over the other space adventure franchise, Justin Lin was hired to direct this third sequel. Lin made his name by retooling the Fast & Furious franchise and those films made millions. Personally I thought he’s an odd choice to take over a sci-fi franchise but thankfully he delivered one of the most enjoyable Summer films I’ve seen so far.

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Three years into their five-year mission, the enterprise crew is feeling the grind of their routine space work. As the film opens, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is giving back an artifact to a group of alien creatures but it didn’t turn out well as he’d hoped. Later the crews are heading to a new advance space station to get some R & R. While stationing at the new space station, Kirk received a new job offer and contemplating leaving the Enterprise. Before he can decide to accept the new job offer though, there was a stress call from a lone survivor who needs help. Kirk and his crew set out to rescue more lives from danger but as they approach their destination, it turns out to be a trap. In a pretty spectacular sequence, a group of aliens with advance spaceships attacked the Enterprise and broke the ship into pieces. The ship crashed landed on an isolated planet and the crew got separated. Kirk must find his friends and also figure out who these aliens are and their purpose for attacking the Enterprise.
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The script by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung is pretty simple, maybe too simple for my liking. The premise is basically search and rescue and lots and lots of action. But they were able to throw in a lot of funny dialogs and lighten up the mood of the film quite a bit. Speaking of action, Lin definitely delivered on that front. The space battles were well-staged and very exciting to watch. If there’s a theater near you that has Dolby Atmos surround sound, I highly recommend you see it there. Lin also was able to move the film along at a brisk pace, never linger on any subplots that might slow the story down.

One minor complaint I have is the way he shot the climatic showdown between Kirk and the main villain. He moved the cameras way too much and I wasn’t sure what was going on. I thought Abrams did a much better job in a similar scene for Into Darkness when Spock and Kahn had their showdown.

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Performances by the actors were great, since this is their third outing, I thought all of the actors look comfortable in their respective roles. Since plot have them separated from each other, many of them got equal screen time. The best pairing to me has to be Spock and Bones, their bickering were fun to watch and the two actors have good chemistry. The weakest link here though is Idris Elba’s villain Krall. He’s yet another one -dimensional evil character whose purpose is vengeance against Starfleet. Elba didn’t have much to do except scream and spouting clichéd evil dialog.

It may not be the best film in the franchise but definitely an upgrade over the too serious Into Darkness. The film contains great action sequences and a touching tribute to the two deceased actors. I’m not a trekkie but I thought this one can be considered one of the best in the franchise.

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Ruth’s Review

I wasn’t going to review this one, but seeing that I have quite a different reaction than Ted, I thought I’d post my thoughts on it as well.

Like Ted, I’m not a Trekkie either, but JJ Abrams actually managed to make me interested in the Star Trek Universe with the first film. I also enjoyed the second installment Star Trek Into Darkness that Abrams also directed, and I really dug Benedict Cumberbatch’s villainous turn as Khan. I said in that post that it was a huge improvement over Eric Bana’s role in the first film. Well, unfortunately in this third installment we’re back to another clichéd, one-dimensional villain in Idris Elba‘s Krall, as Ted has pointed out above. It’s a travesty that when they hide incredibly good looking, massively talented actors under such heavy makeup and give them banal dialog on top of it.

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It’s no fault of the insanely-charismatic Elba that Krall is such a terrible villain. But he’s so terribly-written it made me cringe. But interestingly enough, the one person I thought would be cringe-worthy turns out to be quite okay. I’m referring to Sofia Boutella‘s Jaylah (who I initially thought was Rihanna), a scavenger who rescued Scotty (Simon Pegg) and took him to her home. Her house turns out to be an early generation Starfleet vessel USS Franklin, and she needs Scotty to help her fix it.

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The moments between Jaylah and Scotty are pretty fun. I quite like Jaylah, and she’s given a pretty decent character arc. The movie’s best moments to me are in the the dueling banters, whether it’s Scotty & Jaylah, or Bones & Spock. Karl Urban‘s grumpy-ness is so endearing and he’s got as good chemistry with Chris Pine as he does with Zachary Quinto. The film did boldly go where no previous Star Trek film has gone before in making Sulu (John Cho) gay, though it only amounts to barely a minute of screen time showing him with his husband and young daughter.

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Unlike Ted though, I’m not too crazy about the frenetic action sequences. I find it to be too dizzying and goes on far too long. It seems endless to me that my mind started to wander and it actually took me out of the movie. I don’t remember feeling this way in previous Star Trek films, but this one has so much combat scenes and explosions, even the USS Enterprise was blown to bits. There’s also a ton of chase sequences, so I guess I could see why they hire Justin Lin for this movie. During one of the many extended action sequences, I whispered to my husband that this is basically Fast & Furious in Space! The one part I did enjoy was towards the end when they used loud rock music as a countermeasure against the tiny ships ‘swarm’ controlled by Krall.

I guess this movie would satisfy action fans. But for me, I expect Star Trek to be a space adventure drama, more about Starfleet’s journey and the relationships of its crew members. The film touched upon that in Capt. Kirk’s opening monologue, but that’s pretty much it. I guess there’s not much room for characterization amidst the dizzying action, apart from a few fun banters here and there. Even the quiet moments of Spock mourning the passing of Ambassador Spock doesn’t elicit much emotion as it should’ve been. It did pain me every time I saw Chekov on screen though, I still can’t believe Anton Yelchin‘s gone.

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So despite some fun moments, overall it’s just hard for me to feel invested in Kirk & co.’s journey this time around. The faster the chase scene the more tedious it becomes for me. Perhaps the movie’s aimlessness has been hinted in the intro voice over of Captain Kirk… “As for me, things have started to feel a little episodic. The farther out we go, the more I find myself wondering what it is we are trying to accomplish” Yep, that’s how I feel as the audience too, Cap. The ending also feels a little too neat, resolved perfectly just in time for yet another episode (read: sequels) in a not too distant future. Not sure I’m too excited for future Star Trek movies after this one.

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So what did YOU think about ‘Star Trek Beyond’? 

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46 thoughts on “FlixChatter Double Reviews: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

    1. Hi Fernando! Actually the high rating of this one on Rotten Tomatoes surprised me, it’s 85% or something like that which is far more than I thought it’d get. I hope you’ll enjoy it more than I did.

  1. I’m more in Ted’s camp with this one. I was surprised how much I enjoyed ‘Beyond’, especially given that ‘Into Darkness’ irked me no end. That said, at least Abrams annoying lens flares didn’t give me a sense of vertigo as Lin’s spiraling camera views did — just because you can to do this digitally doesn’t mean you should, Justin. In my humble opinion, of course.😉

    Fine reviews, both of you.

    1. Ahah, looks like we’re on opposite spectrum about the 2nd and 3rd film, Michael. I like ‘Into Darkness’ though I haven’t seen it again since. Yep, Lin’s spiraling camera views are dizzying, whilst Abrams’ lens flare is more of an annoyance.

    2. Hey Michael, you know I had my issues with Into Darkness, mostly because Abrams kept denying that Kahn won’t be in the movie yet we found the film was basically a remake of Wrath of Kahn. But I’ve watched it a few more times since I saw it in theater and I totally enjoy it now. As for Beyond, I really had no expectations for it and found it to be a lot of fun. Most importantly, there were no lies about the film, we got exactly what we saw in the trailers. I agree though that Lin went overboard with the some of the action sequences, especially the fight scene between Kirk and Krall.

      1. Valid points about that Kirk/Krall fight scene. My issues with ‘Into Darkness’ stem from its attempt to remake the classic ST:TOS movie without ‘Wrath of Khan’s series history or pedigree; only using some of its ideas in a splashy, ‘Cliff’s Notes’ fashion (even throwing in a bit of ‘The Search for Spock’ follow-up) to bring it a happy ending finale that was devoid of calories. And don’t get me started on its whitewashing Khan Nonien Singh (Northern Indian, “…probably a Sikh.”) with the Brit Cumberbatch. The only thing I liked about it was its post-9/11 allegory storyline. I’ll stop ranting now. 😉

        1. Ha ha, rant away! I’m not that well verse in the Star Trek universe but I can see why so many trekkies hated Into Darkness. I hate to use the term “plot holes” but that film sure has tons of them. I actually laughed out loud in the theater when a very caucasian looking Cumberbatch said his name’s Nonien Singh Kahn, it’s so ridiculous.

          1. How about that ‘Jesus’ blood of Khan’s, as some other Trekkers have complained about. Or that interstellar capable transporter tech that makes starship travel obsolete. 😉

  2. Having seen the film, I am still wondering what the title even means. Beyond what exactly? The more accurate title, as Ruth, pointed out is ” Fast and Furious In Space.” So much talk of family, so much action. That’s what Paramount wanted, and they got it. However, the action gets in the way of the characters, and the villain is such an afterthought. To be fair, by 2016 blockbuster standards this is a perfectly fun movie with a fair amount of laughs, but it’s a weird, largely essential entry for this franchise. I guess half of a good Star Trek movie is better than no Star Trek movie though.

    1. Hello Kelly! Ahah, I haven’t thought of that… very true, what does ‘Beyond’ mean exactly? It could’ve been applied to other Star Trek movies. Yep, I totally think all the action gets in the way of story, it’s just TOO. MUCH. GOING. ON. Hmmm, about your last sentence, I actually don’t love this franchise THAT much that I want to see a Star Trek movie every few years. I’d rather they take some time to build a good story. I guess you can apply that principle to EVERY franchise, too!

      1. I more meant that since this is the franchise’s 50th anniversary Paramount was going to release a new Star trek movie no matter what. The one we got was an incredibly rushed production which went from a mere story idea to on the set and filming in 6 months. That’s because they spent a year on another script with another director, and when that crapped out they had a crew in pre-production waiting for directions and no script. Given those conditions, I’m happy that Beyond is half of a good Star Trek movie. It could have been so much worse. Given more time, maybe it would have been better, but I really think Justin Lin delivered exactly the kind of movie Paramount wanted.

        1. Yeah I remember when Roberto Orci was apparently going to write and direct this one but his public spats with fans on social media got him fired. Also I suspect the backlash from trekkies didn’t help him either. I believe Into Darkness got voted the worst film in the franchise my a lot of trekkies. I was surprised how quickly they turn this one around and released it this summer! For sure I thought they would push it to November or December of this year.

          1. Hey Ted, so what does Trekkies think of ‘Beyond’? Aside from the Khan issue, do they like the frenetic action that’s full of combat scenes? I’m just curious as I’m not a Trekkie, but I personally expect something more um, dramatic from a Star Trek film.

            1. I’ve visited a couple of home theater sites, which are full of sci-fi geeks and they seemed to enjoyed this one more than Into Darkness. I think many complained it has too much action but the two Abrams films also has tons of action. Many said they like the simple story, similar to the old TV shows and films. In fact, the most successful film of Shatner era was about the team going back in time to rescue a whale! That film was the second or third biggest film of the year it was released.

              Did you ever see the first Star Trek film from 1979? That one was more of a true sci-fi film, I don’t think it contains any action scenes at all. I thought it’s the best one of franchise until Abrams 2009 version came out.

              1. Hi Ted, no I haven’t seen the first Star Trek film from 1979. I think I only see one movie (or was it an extended episode?) where Kirk and Spock landed on earth and they were at a zoo. Spock was found swimming with a whale inside the tank, that was hilarious!

                  1. Oh so THAT was the one about rescuing a whale! Yeah I thought it was a very comedic movie, interesting that it raked up a ton of money. So I guess I could see why Paramount went with a lighter tone in this latest one, though of course not as silly as that 4th movie.

        2. Oh my, I didn’t know about that rushed production tidbit Kelly, yeah I suppose you’re right it could’ve been much worse! I don’t think ‘Beyond’ is a bad movie but I feel that it’s becoming more of a Star ‘Wars’ than Star ‘Trek’ y’know what I mean. Heck I think this one in particular seems to have far more action that Force Awakens! Well that’s too bad if Paramount wanted this type of Fast & Furious style for a Star Trek film, then I’m even less interested in future movies.

  3. Having watched some of the TV series, it took me a rewatch to enjoy what the Star Trek reboot is doing. Rodenberry’s original vision wasn’t Fast & Furious in space haha. I can enjoy a sci-fi summer blockbuster which is what this franchise is, but I’m not rushing out to see it just yet. Good reviews.

    1. I think after Star Trek: Insurrection didn’t do too well at the box office and fans weren’t happy with it, Paramount wanted a different style for this franchise and Abrams pitched his version as an action/adventure in space and now that’s what the franchise is all about. I don’t agree with some are saying this one is similar to Fast & Furious films though, I mean go watch the first two Abrams films and you’ll see that it contains as much action as this one.

      Hope you’ll enjoy it when you see it!

      1. Insurrection was weak and so was Nemesis. They definitely needed a change in direction. I think Abrams did a better job reworking A New Hope into Force Awakens than Wrath of Khan to Into Darkness. But ID was pretty decent for me.

        1. Hi Eddie, interesting view there about Abrams’ success in reworking the two behemoth sci-fi franchise. It seems that in general he did a better job pleasing Star Wars fans than Star Trek ones. I like Into Darkness but perhaps because I’m not as invested in the franchise so I had no problem w/ Benedict as Khan, but I know lots of Trekkies have issues w/ that.

    2. Hi Eddie, I think Rodenberry wouldn’t have been happy w/ the change about Sulu’s character either, as George Takei himself have pointed out. I’d say it’s worth a rental.

      Ted – I realize the Abrams’ versions have a lot of action too, but I think the way STB was shot seems a lot more frenetic and dizzying to me. There’s also a ton of chase scenes, whether on spaceships or on motorbike, so I really felt like it was nonstop. Hey it’s ok we disagree on this. I know you are happy when a movie has a ton of action in it 😉

  4. My father watched the next generation, I think, so all I know about Star Trek was that it was for stupid fat old people. I’ve seen and enjoyed the reboots, and a documentary called For the Love of Spock has made me rethink the original series as something I could maybe appreciate.

    1. I never got into any of the TV shows but enjoyed most of the films, heck I thought these newer ones are pretty great, well except Into Darkness. Until I saw Abram’s 2009 reboot, I thought the first Star Trek film’s the best one.

    2. Hi Jay! “… all I know about Star Trek was that it was for stupid fat old people” Mwahahaha! That’s too funny! Well, for sure now even Millennials and kids of all sizes seem to like it. For the Love of Spock sounds like a good doc I should check out!

  5. Great post, nicely contrasted. I’m not sure I’ll see this, though I should see the the first JJ made and see if that gets me into the universe. Cos unlike Star Wars I have NO IDEA what Star Trek is about.

    Great post guys

    1. Hi Allie, JJ Abrams is still the producer but the tone of this one is a bit lighter than his two films. One thing is certain though, there are no lies or secrets about this one as appose to Abrams’ films, what you see is what you get in this film. 🙂

    2. Hi Allie! I wouldn’t say it’s a bad movie, it’s just ok not great. Yeah I like the first two movies by Abrams, and he did a good job w/ Force Awakens too. It could be I’m already tired w/ the Star Trek franchise by now.

  6. Some good viewpoints guys! I’m a massive Trekkie and have been since a very young age so ultimately I enjoyed this very much although I would say that the two Abrams films are stronger overall (especially the first one). I agree with Ted about the overuse of shaky cam though and it definitely detracted from the Kirk/Krall confrontation. I wish directors would use better judgement, ‘shaky cam’ techniques can certainly add energy to an action scene but we want to be able to actually enjoy the scene with out becoming nauseous!

    1. Hi Chris! That’s cool to hear from a Trekkie. Glad that you enjoyed this, but yeah I feel that the first two films are more enjoyable for me.

  7. Nice review. I have very little familiarity with Star Trek, but I did remember enjoying the two JJ Abrams reboot movies. Still, I was pretty bored by beyond: the action scenes were tired and Idris Elba didn’t have a lot to do. I did like the use of Public Enemy and “Sabotage,” but I thought this picture was kind of a mess.

    1. I think we’re more in line about this one. I was bored w/ all the action too and was so irritated by what they did to Idris. The use of Rihanna’s song as a plot point is interesting though.

  8. Nice review Ruth! Enjoyed it alot myself and definitely understand your reservations with it, but personally they were pretty minute flaws I was willing to forgive, because largely it was very good in almost every area. Liked it so much more than Into Darkness.

    1. Hi Khalid! That’s good that you enjoyed this more than I did, but that said I still think it’s a pretty good movie. I remember liking Into Darkness more but that’s been a while since I watched it. I didn’t really like what they did w/ Idris here.

  9. Glad to see you guys enjoyed this for the most part. There was no real advertising done for this, and the trailers looked pretty meh. Still looking forward to this, but I doubt I will be tripping out to the cinema for it.

  10. Pingback: JULY 2016 Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month

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