The Kelvinverse will probably always be PG-13. Wrap your dilithium crystals around that, you green-blooded maniac.
DIRECTOR: Justin Lin
I think I will always have a hard time selling the Kevlinverse to anyone. As I discussed in my Star Trek: The Motion Picture review, 2016 celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek. I don't think that Paramount necessarily pulled out all of the stops to make 2016 the year of Star Trek, especially considering how Doctor Who knocked it out of the park a few years ago. It's disappointing, becausae I've been a Trekkie for longer than I've been a Whovian. Because of this, a lot rides on the shoulders of Star Trek Beyond, which is somewhat unfair.
The movie works for the most part and I genuinely enjoy it unironically. (Mainly because I'm not a monster anymore. I acknowledge that I only have / had monster-like tendencies). But there is quite a bit to apologize for. When it comes to justifying a film I like, I get very vulnerable. I know the movie isn't perfect. But I can't help but placing a little Mr. Henson in my head everytime I watch something Kelvinversey. First and foremost, the movies aren't what the tone of Star Trek originated as. I loathed Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice because they were such perversions of the original franchises that they left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I have to admit, the old universe these movies are not. But the difference between the DCEU (I think that's the acronym they're going with) and the Kelvinverse is that the Kelvinverse seems to have good intentions while making fun movies. So tonally, they are way off from the Shatner films and episodes, but they are still a good time.
And that's when the eyerolling begins. I'd like to talk SPOILER territory here. It's the motorcycle scene and the Beastie Boys scene. These moments are just so much fun, but they also kind of take some of the gravitas (I'm writing professioanlly so I'm not going to use potty language here) out of Star Trek. They make awesome action movie scenes and that's what Star Trek has become. Yes, many of the messages are verbally said in the movie that tie it into Roddenberry's message, but films are meant to show, not tell. But we can also accuse Nicholas Meyer's movies of having the same effect on the franchise. (I don't know why I attributed Star Trek I-VI to Nicholas Meyer, but I just get the imprint of his tastes on the whole series.) The Star Trek movies stopped being about exploration a long time ago and I guess I need to get past that.
I'd like to talk about the giant Constitution Class corpse in the room. Like the previous Star Trek III, Beyond destroys the Enterprise. The films like ripping apart the ship. We had it teased in Into Darkness, but this one really delivered the smoldering corpse of the ship. Like many Trekkies, I treat the ships like characters and the destructions of these ships are painful. I have the image of the original Enterprise being destroyed in The Search for Spock and the Enterprise-D crashing into Veridian III in Generations burned into my brain and those were soul crushing moments. I did get sad at the Kelvinverse Enterprise getting ripped apart, but it felt different. The big problem is that I barely knew her. While Kirk and her crew spent years aboard her, she wasn't something that had earned a relationship with the audience yet. It was cool, but just kind of a bummer as opposed to a major shift in the mythos. On top of that, the Enterprise was replaced with a carbon copy ship by the end. In the original franchise, the crew had to Search for Spock and Voyage Home before being treated to an Enterprise-A.
Man, it sounds like I'm just ripping this movie a new one. I REALLY LIKED IT GUYS! But here's some more beefs. (It is so much easier to savage a movie than praising it.) Justin Lin does an amazing job in terms of directing action and getting relationships dead on, which is 99% of the job in this case. The movie is fun and it was great seeing every crew member bond with another, especially dealing with MVP casting Karl Urban as Bones. Karl Urban will always be my favorite part of the Kelvinverse and just constantly teaming him up with Zachary Quinto's Spock is pitch perfect. They did great before and they did great here. Also, I've never seen the passing of a cast member being handled so perfectly before. Dedicating the movie to Leonard Nemoy's Ambassador Spock could have come off as tacky, but the movie understands the reverence that needed to be paid while pushing the storyline along well.
But the thing that bothered me about Lin's directing (which may fall more on Stephen F. Windon's cinematography more) is the nauseating camera movement. I love formalist films. I like when the camera is playful and self-aware, but I was going to throw up with the spinning constantly. A few times? Cool. Every transition? Gross.
But that's the only visual complaint I had. These guys took some risks. One of the complaints that many comic book artists have about the Flash is that he's got one pose. I thought that the Enterprise has been shot so much that we can't see anything new. Lin and Windon do a fantastic job of making space look fantastic and larger than life.
The last complaint I have is a plot one. I don't know if Idris Elba's character made a ton of sense. It is a very bizarre revenge story that never really hits the epic revenge plot of The Wrath of Khan. It seems like I'm treading over some Star Trek Into Darkness issues, but do we need every Star Trek movie to be a revenge plot. Elba is great. He's a cool villain, but he doesn't make a ton of sense. His motivation is just plain silly considering his character's background and the twist that came with his origin story. I can get the guy being frustrated with the Federation, but the genocide of millions of people doesn't really fit within the mission statement outside of the fact that dude is crazy.
And now I'm just gushing. Here's the thing that made me fanboy giggle more than anything else: the U.S.S. Franklin. I giggle with joy looking at analog controls and that one thing tied this into a 50th anniversary better than anything else in the movie. Yeah, there's the photo of Shatner's crew, but who cares. Old timey ships make me smile because children of the '80s only experience things through nostalgia.
BUT I SWEAR I LIKED THIS MOVIE A LOT!
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.