Since due to my eternal health issues I’m still stuck at home a lot, I rarely ever get to go to the cinema these days. Usually I don’t mind too much, but this year I came close to disobeying my doctors’ recommendation of not staying in crowded, air-conditioned venues so as to not pick up infections (that one time around Christmas when I sneak out with my brother to watch some Star Wars or Tolkien movie doesn’t really count ;-) ), since I really, really wanted to see Star Trek Beyond. The trailers just looked too enticing! Now with the release of the DVD/ Blu-Ray I can finally catch up.
I didn’t exactly hate Into Darkness, but I wasn’t too enamored with it, either. It had its moments like for instance the chase on the Klingon planet, but it bent classical Trek lore too much for its own good end ended up with one mess of a story. Even some of the visuals were boring and sub-standard (you know, that “secret” shipyard with hangars that looked like your average logistics hub with corrugated walls for instance). That being the case, even the few glimpses you could get of Beyond in the trailers looked ten times more appetizing and then some… I can only say that I’m pleased!
The movie doesn’t waste much time getting the story started and I’m not going to give away too much, but it’s pretty much the opposite of the previous one which felt like an endless series of “exposition”. The pacing is much tighter. Save for the short sort of prologue with the shore leave on the Yorktown space station, them battles and ‘splosions begin to quickly take the stage. I’m often put off by destructive spectacles, but this is handled in an almost logical way and someone has put some thought into what tactics an alien force might employ to shred the Enterprise to pieces.
The heart of the movie is of course once they land on the planet as scattered bands of survivors that have to find their comrades and find a way to get home, which leads to a number of crazy things, including some much-needed comic relief from odd character pairings and the circumstances in which they find themselves. That component was nearly absent in Darkness, making it one grim and dour film. This phrase has been overused a lot already in reviews when the movie came out, but yes, you can really feel that sense of humor and comradery. It’s fantastic to see everything being invigorated and infused with some life blood.
All of this makes this much more of a Trek movie than the previous one could ever hope to be. There’s even some nods to the other movies and the TV series which you will notice in some details, shot composition, the usual namesake and of course some of the quips and dialogs harkening back tho those past outings. Of course the whole thing isn’t without flaws, plot holes and other inconsistencies, either. Still, I never found them to be as distracting WTF? moments as in that other movie. About the only thing that irked me was that Idris Elba was totally wasted under all that make-up and the resolution of the Krall story felt forced and even harebrained. It seemed like they built up the villain too much and then couldn’t come up with a good way to get rid of him again…