Friday, July 22, 2016

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

The other day there was a marathon at a local theater of all the new Star Trek movies.  These marathons are especially great to me for one particular reason, I missed the previous two entries in this new reboot of Star Trek, so this allowed me to see all of them in a row, which really helps when I can barely remember what happened in the last one in certain series.  I recently went to the Captain America Avengers marathon, and got to see 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies I missed, so these kind of marathons really get me engaged in a series I may have given up on due to my not having seen previous installments.  I think this is my fourth such marathon, the first one I went to was when they showed all of the first four Saw movies for the price of one, which at the time I think was $10 in NYC.  I was surprisingly entertained by the series, and I even went out and saw the fifth one the next year.  The other marathon I went to was The Maze Runner marathon, not because I missed the first one, but purely to see the original right before the new one so it was more fresh in my mind.  I had randomly caught the first one when it was out, knowing nothing about it, and really enjoyed it.  I think I enjoyed the second one even more.  It would be great if they showed all three when they release the third!

I will refrain from reviewing the first two Star Trek movies here, though I will try to write a review for each one soon.  It is hard to keep up with writing reviews on days where you see 4 movies in a day (yes, I caught a fourth movie after the marathon).  Let me just say that I thoroughly enjoyed the first two in the series, and thought they were both very good.  I enjoy J.J. Abrams directing, and the look of his films, even if he is sort of ripping off the original movies for both this Star Trek series AND Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens.  He tells pretty classic tales with a twist, and visually speaking I think he is really good at what he does.  Which brings me to Star Trek Beyond.

This is the first in the new series that was not directed by J.J. Abrams and unfortunately it shows.  While I am glad he directed the latest Star Wars, I wish he had also directed this one.  From the first scene you can tell the tone of the movie is off, or at least different than the last two.  It starts off a bit goofy, with a somewhat comical scene that seems more at home in the cheesier episodes of the original TV version, than a big budget movie.  There is even a reference to one of the cheesier TV episodes as well, later on in the movie.  It has been mentioned that the first scene is reminiscent of Galaxy Quest, which was sort of a Star Trek parody, but I saw that long ago and do not remember it well enough.  Oddly enough, this is a very dark installment of the series.  When I say dark, I mean the color and brightness of the movie, not the tone of the story, even though it does also have its dark moments.  I could attribute this to the 3D version of it that I saw, but I am not sure that was the issue at all.  I will know more if I get to see it again in 2D, as my girlfriend did not get to see this screening with me.

This new Star Trek was directed by Justin Lin, and written mostly by Simon Pegg.  Justin is best known for directing a couple of the Fast And Furious series, while Simon Pegg is best know for writing and starring in Shaun Of The Dead.  Now, while I like him as Scotty in the new movies, and I think he can help lend a voice to the new movies, his writing is much more comical, and it shows during certain scenes of this movie.  The last two movies were written by Roberto Orci, and although he did have a hand in this one (though uncredited), it is obvious that Simon held the reins here.  As for Justin, I have never seen any of the Fast And Furious movies, but I have seen at least three J.J. Abrams directed movies, and have enjoyed all of them very much.

Seeing all three back to back made it painfully obvious that the new one did not hold up to the other two, something which bothered me as I felt like they pretty much had a good thing going.  Overall I felt the overly strong accents on both Scotty and Chekov were throwbacks to the original series, but also a bit forced, as even now we can see in this world that English will become the world language and is already being taught to children all over the world, who are learning it at a very fast rate, with little to no accents.  To think that someone as smart as Chekov and Scotty would be unable to work that out seems illogical, to quote Spock.  According to J.J. Abrams, the character of Chekov will NOT be recast since the untimely death of the actor, so that will be one less character with a throwback accent.  

Overall this particular movie just suffered from tone issues and an inability to balance the humor with the action and suspense.  The cast does a great job with what they have to work with, and the addition of the character of Jaylah was a nice touch.  I was not crazy about the last last new character introduced in the last movie, but she grew on me as time went on.  The odd part was, she was not only absent from this movie, but was literally not mentioned at all!  That felt a bit odd, to say the least.  One last nitpicky comment about the movie, regarding the soundtrack.  As much as I get that movies sometimes use a song more than once in the series, I felt that using the Beastie Boys Sabotage AGAIN, after using it so well in the first one, was both lazy and annoying. 

I do hope they bring J.J. back to direct the next one, though I fear he will stick to producing them from now on, not directing, which worries me that this series will start to slide.  As it is, at the very least Zachary Quinto is not super keen on playing Spock forever, so this series may already be winding down.  Obviously how well this does will help determine a lot of things having to do with where it goes.

Overall, even with all the flaws,  I did enjoy the movie, just not nearly as much as the other two.  I felt the cracks in the hull have started to show, and I worry it is only so long before the Enterprise once again breaks apart.

7 out of 10 stars.

Location : Regal E-Walk Stadium 13, theater 13, in NYC
Date and time : Wednesday July 20th, 2016 at 10 PM
Format : DCP 3D RPX
Audience : Between 60-100 people, since this was part of the marathon, people may have been a bit tired, but they seemed to enjoy themselves