I was asked on my Tumblr thing what I thought about it, because I didn’t like the trailer at all (I said something like “I just saw this trailer for a generic sci-fi action movie, but everyone was wearing a Starfleet uniform.”)
Before I get into Beyond, some context: I’m the guy who worked on TNG, but was a massive TOS fan growing up (and still is). When I watch Star Trek movies, I don’t watch them as someone who actually went to Starfleet Academy (class of 2389 REPRESENT!) but as someone who loves Star Trek and cosplayed as Spock before he knew what cosplay was. So, that said, to recap: I loved the first rebooted Trek movie. It had its flaws, but none of them were big enough to upset me, so I give it 4 out of 5 jars of Red Matter. I really enjoyed Into Darkness when I was in the theater, but the more I thought about it after, the more it fell apart until I now have to give it 2 out of 5 tribbles-on-a-stick.
Star Trek movies are always going to have a hard time with fans of the series, because when we think about Star Trek, we think about 79 episodes of the original series, or our favorite 30 episodes of TNG, or the last season of DS9. We take something that’s been spread out over days of on-screen time, spread out across years of releases, and then compare all that character development and nuance and series of individual moments with something that has to be a fully-told and completely self-contained story in 90 or 120 minutes, and it has to be accessible (as defined by risk-averse studio goons) to as wide an audience as possible. So I think it’s unfair and unreasonable to directly compare the film installments of a long-running TV series to that series. I won’t do that with Star Trek Beyond. I’ll just compare it to the two previous installments in this series.
Without holding Beyond next to the hundreds of episodes of Star Trek we can watch on TV, and just looking at it as part of this current film trilogy: I was really disappointed by it. Unlike Into Darkness, which was a lot of fun for me in the theater but fell apart upon reflection, Beyond just fell apart while I was watching it. You can read more if you’d like to know some of my reasons. There are spoilers.
Let me start out by saying that I enjoyed a lot of it, before I completely turned on the movie and checked out. The first act is great, and so were parts of the second act. I loved the relationship between Spock and McCoy, I thought the swarm of whatever those ships were was really, really cool, and the Dyson Sphere starbase thing looked amazing. All the performances were solid, and the effects look great.
But with just a few very small cosmetic changes, the story could have been any generic sci-fi action movie produced in the last 20 years.
I really didn’t like that there was this amazing female character (who could keep a fucking STARSHIP HIDDEN for years while she survived on a hostile planet) who turned into The Girl For Kirk To Save the instant the boys showed up.
Someone who read this post in its original form on Medium also observed that Uhura was reduced to Spock’s girlfriend in this movie, and all the amazing stuff she’s capable of doing just sort of … vanished.
I hated hated hated hated the whole Sabotage thing. Instead of laughing and enjoying “is that classical music?” I just rolled my eyes, because by that point, I had turned on the movie.
The whole film was massively overdirected. The camera moves were indulgent and distracting, totally unnecessary, more than one time to establish the ship being on its side, and disoriented me the rest of the time.
There were, like, three? climaxes in the thing and by the final one I just didn’t care and wanted it to be over.
When we got to the message about strength through unity, it felt tacked on and preachy and unearned.
Do we really have to keep destroying the Enterprise?
I could go on, but I’d probably get into nitpicky stuff. Maybe I’m outside the demo now, and it’s not the movie’s fault that it didn’t deliver what I wanted. I know that a huge number of my friends who saw it loved it, and felt like it was the most “Star Trek-y” of the new films. I couldn’t disagree me. I think that if it was a generic sci-fi action movie, it would have been fine (I still hate the way a strong, competent, ass-kicking female character becomes the damsel in distress when the boys show up, though). But it’s supposed to be a Star Trek movie, and just like we have expectations for a Star Wars movie or even a Fast and Furious movie, I think movies should fulfill the promise of their premise.
Beyond was a Fast and Furious movie in space, and that’s not what I wanted to see. I give it 1 out of 5 motorcycles that are on the bridge of a starship for no logical reason, and still work after not being used for an incredibly long time for even less logical reasons.