Tag Archives: Enterprise

Review: Star Trek Beyond meets expectations

Jaylah_and_scott

SPOILER POLICY FOR THIS REVIEW: Most of the plot details I mention in this review are things we knew from the trailers (casting, fate of Enterprise, name of villain, etc.) I plan to talk a bit about the specifics of the Enterprise sequence, but I’ll avoid some details about the villain. The basics of Jaylah are discussed, as well as some of the cast pairings that happen in the middle section of the movie. If you’re spoiler sensitive, avoid this post until you’ve seen the movie. If you want a sense of what’s cool, what could have been done better, and whether you should go see this movie (you should), then read on.

Right from the first trailer and the announcement of this film’s director a lot of fans were worried that we were getting Star Trek: The Fast and the Furious, a generic action movie instead of true trek spirit we’ve come to know and love. Simon Pegg’s script and a lot of sly references do what they can to challenge that expectation and there are bits and pieces of something greater, but most of the middle section is exactly what we expected from Justin Lin. But the movie is still eminently watchable.

The fate of the Enterprise: There’s a real “oh sh-t!” moment early on in the sequence that my wife actually caught a few seconds before the rest of the audience. The design of the Enterprise throughout the decades has often been criticized for putting the nacelles on long delicate arms. And in Beyond we see the consequences of that choice. It actually takes a good ten or so minutes from initial battle till everything comes crashing down as the Enterprise is picked apart by a swarm of ships unlike anything they’ve ever encountered. Most Trek battles are naval engagements, two heavy cruisers duking it out until one is victorious. The swarm of enemy ships in this movie is a force of nature, one that will be next to impossible to defeat. Everyone gets a good moment, from Scotty’s clever escape, to Uhura’s battle with the baddie, to Kirk saying a last goodbye to the bridge. Everything up through this moment is the Trek we love.

Let’s wander around on a planet for a while: There was a lot of potential in the middle act of this movie, and we get glimpses of it through some character beats. Most of the crew is picked off by Krall and huddled together in cells pretty early, but a few are able to escape on their own or with a buddy. We see some traditional and unexpected pairings here: Kirk and Chekov, Spock and McCoy, Scotty and Jaylah. There’s some real potential for interaction and character development in these sequences, but the best we get (as expected) is Spock and McCoy. Their grudging respect for each other is explored, as well as Spock dealing with a big loss. I’ve been a fan of Urban’s McCoy and feel like he’s been underused until this movie. The Kirk and Chekov stuff is all action, and Scotty and Jaylah are mostly played for laughs. Uhura, Sulu, and rest of crew in Krall’s camp is less compelling, though Uhura’s one-on-one’s against the villain aren’t bad.

New life-forms: Jaylah’s a nice character. She’s got a cool character design. Her outfit’s not exploitative. She’s shown as being a capable engineering novice and a fighter. She calls Kirk “James T.” Overall, not a bad effort. Simon Pegg mentioned on Late Night with Seth Meyers that her name comes from her script designation (Jennifer Lawrence from Winter’s Bone) and I don’t know if we would have made more of a connection with this character if it was actually Jay Law. Her development is a little lacking, but I look forward to seeing how potential future movies use her (or at least the comic books).

Ordering off the menu: Idris Elba on the other hand, is buried in the makeup and that voice he put on for this movie. Whatever you think of Cumberbatch’s Khan, you were getting everything that actor had to offer as a sympathetic villain. There’s so much we could have gotten from Idris, even just from his voice, that his slow, spittle-spewing performance didn’t give us. On Fallon, Idris remarked that you didn’t really have to act when you looked like his character, which makes me wonder why they used someone as talented as him for the role. If you hadn’t told me it was Idris, I wouldn’t have known for much of the movie.

Callbacks: The trek references in this movie were largely from one of the least popular series: Star Trek: Enterprise. There were a lot of good TOS refs as well. The Enterprise callbacks make sense, since technically the prime and Abrams (Kelvin) timelines share that common ancestry. There was one choice of music in a sequence toward the end of the movie that came off as very hokey, especially considering what it was being used to do. That was probably the most Fast and Furious the movie got. Yes, I know that First Contact used “Magic Carpet Ride” in a sequence, but it made way more sense in context than the moment in Beyond. The best moments are the movie’s tribute to Leonard Nimoy, which is handled with more than just a title card. There’s a moment at the end that really connects with Trek’s 50 year legacy.

Raise the stakes: Star Trek (2009) destroyed Vulcan mid-movie. It’d be hard for any movie to rise to that level without repeating itself. Into Darkness did it with a personal character death, Pike being killed by Khan early on. Beyond does shock us early on with the Enterprise attack, but the actual threat of the movie seems relatively minor. Most of our villain’s violence, and the devastating power of his weapon, is implied not shown. The thing to protect is largely significant because it looks cool and has a lot of people on it (oh and Sulu’s husband and daughter who we’ve never seen before, and never talk to). I’m not sure how you correct this point, but since there was less connection with earlier movies or Trek lore, it seemed more generic in a building-smashy way than the previous films.

Bottom-line: The movie is fun. There’s a lot of laugh lines. The space action sequences are superb. The planet stuff is more generic, but still fun. We’re back to the curse of the odd numbers, but if you think about it, only 1 and 5 are real stinkers. 3, 7 and 9 are all very watchable. I think Beyond actually most resembles 9 though without the romantical time-freezing bits. It’s definitely still in the top third of Trek movies. I doubt you’ll hate it, and you definitely will want to see it in the theater.

Just maybe go for the matinée.

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Plenty of letters left in the alphabet

SPOILER WARNING… I GUESS?

The trailers for Star Trek Beyond have given a pretty strong indication that Pine-Kirk’s Enterprise kicks the bucket in this new movie, until the latest trailer just comes out and says it. The Enterprise has been destroyed.

As fans of the series know, this isn’t something new. Pretty much every iteration of Star Trek has an episode in which the ship blows up and everyone dies. Actually, if you’re a fan of The Physics of Star Trek, you can add any episode to the list that utters the phrase “Inertial dampers are offline”, because at the speeds they are usually traveling everyone would be a spot on the back bridge wall.

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Today I will attempt (and likely fail) to provide an exhaustive list of episodes in which the Enterprise (or the main ship/station for DS9 and Voyager) is destroyed.

TOS (none): Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but aside from “The City on the Edge of Forever“, in which the Enterprise just disappears because of an alternate timeline, we never see it blow up until Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, still one of the best explosion scenes of the series. Several Constitution class ships are destroyed in the TOS run, but never our main girl.

TNG:

  • Cause and Effect” – Ship blows up at the teaser and at every commercial break. We see Frasier as captain of a ship from the 23rd century.
  • Time Squared” – Seen through future Captain Picard’s log fragments. Especially love the effect of the ship being sucked backwards into a wormhole.
  • Parallels” – Worf keeps on slipping into alternate timelines including one in which he is married to Troi. Provides the impetus for their brief romance. Enterprise that blows up is one from an alternate timeline where the Borg have assimilated the alpha quadrant.
  • Yesterday’s Enterprise” – Technically we don’t see either C or D blow up, but C is being sent to its doom, and D is about to be destroyed with Picard at a flaming tactical.
  • All Good Things” – Several Enterprises are destroyed when trying to seal the breach in the universe, in the wrong order to prevent a time paradox (past, present, future *BOOM*).
  • Star Trek VII: Generations – Lursa and B’Etor are the ones who destroy the Enterprise, at the cost of their own lives. Not exactly what we expected of these characters. We get a saucer crash similar to what we’re seeing from Beyond, though a smoother descent. Data says “Oh, sh-t!” and Picard says the title of this post. Oh yeah, and Kirk dies (as the old joke goes with a bridge on him, instead of him on the bridge). If you read the old technical manual, this exact procedure for saving the saucer was detailed long before the movie came out.

DS9:

  • Visonary” – O’Brien is able to make jumps about five hours into the future because of… radiation poisoning? One of his future jumps shows the destruction of DS9 by an unknown (*cough* ROMULAN *cough*) attack. Past O’Brien dies, future O’Brien instead of winking out of existence jumps to the past and assumes past O’Brien’s life. All’s well…?
  • The Changing Face of Evil” – The Defiant is destroyed in battle with the Breen and Dominion ships. This event is fixed and the Defiant only reappears as the renamed USS Sao Paulo a few episodes later. A bold choice for bold Trek.

VOY:

  • The Year of Hell: Part 2” – My personal favorite. Voyager is attacked and battered over a long period. Janeway becomes increasingly driven and prone to taking unnecessary risks. Tuvok loses his sight. 7 of 9 becomes Tuvok’s caretaker and friend. In the final battle there’s a gaping hole in the front of the ship held only by a force-field before Janeway rams Voyager into a timeship to correct the timeline.
  • Deadlock” – A duplicate Voyager is created through … methods. Harry Kim dies when sucked out a hull breach. Harry Kim prime takes his place, along with baby Naomi Wildman. Duplicate Voyager blows up and somehow doesn’t destroy other Voyager occupying the same space.
  • Timeless” – Voyager crash lands on an ice planet after being thrown out of a quantum slipstream. 15 years in the future Harry Kim tries to save them by using Borg technology and a retrieved EMH. Cameo by Levar Burton. Another surprising Voyager highlight.
  • Course: Oblivion” – A duplicate Voyager created by their encounter with the demon planet eventually dissolves into nothing.

ENT:

  • Twilight” – In an alternate timeline (catching the trend?) the future NX-01 Enteprise is crippled (the bridge is ripped off which is kind of a cool effect) and later destroyed while simultaneously curing Archer of a brain disease caused by time-parasites. Archer is able to restore his memory and the past. Woohoo.

I’m sure there are more so please share in the comments.

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