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Star Trek XIII: Star Trek Beyond

Originally Aired: 2016-7-22

Captain Balthazar M. Edison disappeared 100 years ago while in command of the USS Franklin. While marooned on a hidden planet, Edison, now calling himself Krall, developed a deep resentment of the Federation which he saw as unappreciative of his long service and believes it has adopted a weak political philosophy of peaceful exploration. Krall survives on this planet for 100 years using an alien technology he discovered which allows him to drain vitality from others to extend his own life, mutating his body in the process. Once the Federation extends out far enough to make contact with him again, he uses the advanced technology he discovered to wage war against the children of his former comrades.

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 4.31

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- When Kirk is trying to dispose of the biological weapon, Scotty mentions that Kirk is at risk of being sucked into space, but correct term is blown.

- Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov in this film, died in a tragic accident shortly after the film wrapped production.
- This film starts during the 966th day of the Enterprise's five year mission.
- According to McCoy, Saurian brandy is illegal.
- Spock notes that showing geographic favoritism on inducted Federation worlds could cause diplomatic tension in response to McCoy opining that starbases should be on planets instead of floating in space.
- At Starbase Yorktown, Sulu meets up with his male partner and daughter, establishing his character to be gay. This pays homage to former Sulu actor George Takei's status as being gay. George Takei was notably opposed to depicting Sulu as gay in this film. He said that while he was pleased to see the LGBTQ community get some representation on Star Trek, his opposition to the decision to depict Sulu as gay was due to Gene Roddenberry having always envisioned Sulu as heterosexual.
- Shohreh Aghdashloo, who plays Commodore Paris in this film, also plays Chrisjen Avasarala on The Expanse.
- McCoy says that Vulcans have their hearts where humans have their livers.
- The USS Franklin is established in this film to be the first Earth ship capable of warp 4. Based on the available evidence in the film, it appears as though the ship was commissioned prior to the NX-01 Enterprise, then perhaps mothballed and rechristened with its final NX-326 designation sometime later. Likewise, it seems likely that the prefix "USS" was not given to it until after the Federation was founded.
- Krall in his previous life as Balthazar M. Edison is very likely to have served under Captain Archer on the NX-01 Enterprise as a MACO under the command of Major Hayes. His character was never named on screen in Enterprise, but there are several unnamed MACO characters present in the background who could be reasonably retroactively cast as a younger Edison.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kirk regarding his father: "He joined Starfleet because he believed in it. I joined on a dare."
- The impressive sight of the Starbase Yorktown.
- Spock learning that old Spock has died.
- The Enterprise being suddenly attacked and its nacelles being torn off.
- The ship being boarded during the damage control efforts.
- The ship getting poked full of more holes as it tried to flee and people being blown into space, including the boarding party.
- The saucer section crashing into the planet.
- McCoy: "They say it hurts less if it's a surprise." Spock: "If I may adopt a parlance with which you are familiar, I can confirm your theory to be horse shit."
- Scotty and Jaylah finding the wreck of the USS Franklin.
- Spock and McCoy discussing his breakup with Uhura, old Spock's death, and his plans to leave Starfleet.
- Spock laughing and McCoy replying with concern that Spock must be delirious from his injuries.
- McCoy: "You gave your girlfriend radioactive jewelry?" Spock: "The radiation is harmless, doctor. And its unique signature makes it very easy to identify." McCoy: "You gave your girlfriend a tracking device?" Spock: "...That was not my intention."
- Scotty: "These old vessels, they were built in space. They were never supposed to take off from atmosphere." Kirk: "Make it happen." Scotty: "They're called starships for a reason, captain!"
- The Franklin lifting off.
- The attack on the Yorktown.
- McCoy: "Damn it, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a ph--[beamed out]." He was probably going to say "physicist." Count 39 for "I'm a doctor, not a (blah)" style lines, which McCoy was famous for.
- Kirk confronting Krall.
- Kirk's mixed gravity battle with Krall.
- Spock looking at a group photo of a much older Enterprise crew from the prime universe.
- Kirk's birthday toast: "To the Enterprise. And to absent friends."
- The construction of the Enterprise-A.

My Review
Nearly all action, almost no story. Star Trek Beyond is perhaps the most uninspired and unoriginal Star Trek film ever made, as while Star Trek V: The Final Frontier may have been infinitely worse in just about every way, at least that story was original and certainly not without inspiration; drug induced inspiration perhaps, but inspiration nonetheless. The way in which the bland unoriginality of this film stands out most is with the destruction of the Enterprise. While a somewhat pleasant surprise to see so early in the film, it lacked the emotional resonance of seeing the Enterprise destroyed in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek VII: Generations, despite the clear attempt to be an homage to both. Likewise, the entire character of Krall also seems to be an homage to (or perhaps rip off of) Star Trek IX: Insurrection's main antagonist, as both Krall and Ru'afo attain drug-induced immortality at the expense of others, leading to a disfigured appearance. Like the previous film, too much of this film's story relies on nostalgia for past Star Trek rather than carving out a new, exciting story.

Which is especially a shame, as Krall was the most promisingly original concept for an antagonist that the Kelvin timeline has offered up so far; sadly wasted on mediocre scriptwriting. You'd think a marooned starship captain who is a veteran of the Xindi and Earth-Romulan wars surviving for 100 years using alien technology and developing a deep loathing of the Federation's political philosophy would make for a more compelling villain, but Krall somehow managed to be even more bland than Nero. Chief among the reasons why is he's given almost no screen time with which to articulate his anti-Federation political ideology and as such his motivations seem profoundly half-baked and his evil plan feels laughably impulsive for a person with over a century of wisdom under his belt. "Oh look, a random artifact I can make a bio weapon out of to attack the Federation with! Just what I've been waiting 100 years for!" Really? There were so many ways for a person of his means to use the considerable arsenal at his disposal to wreak havoc on the Federation in more calculatedly effective ways.

Part of the reason why Krall gets so little time to become a compelling villain though is it seems the story's authors felt for some stupid reason that it would be more dramatic if his background wasn't revealed until the end of the film. This, in addition to almost completely destroying the value of such a cool backstory, also creates a series of awkward contradictions to resolve. For instance, why does Krall speak an alien language if he is human? And for that matter why does the distinction of language even matter in the age of the universal translator? Moreover, why is the Yorktown so much more advanced than any starbase seen on other Star Treks? None of those questions rise to the level of continuity errors, but they certainly stretch the limits of fan rationalization.

Likewise, the whole film should leave you wondering what happened to Krall in the prime timeline. Since he was marooned before Nero split the timeline, presumably Krall was dispatched by someone other than Kirk in the prime timeline's version of 2263. Perhaps by Captain Pike and original Spock. If that's how it went down, then since the Enterprise wasn't destroyed during the prime timeline's version of that incident, perhaps Pike prime and Spock prime got more time to learn about Krall's anti-Federation political philosophy before they dispatched him. That sounds like a great idea for a story. Maybe they should've made a movie about that instead.

Overall between the issues with the plot logic, the underdeveloped antagonist, and the film's general blandness, this film leaves much to be desired. Even Kirk complained about it all feeling routine ("episodic") in his captain's log, a joke which applies I think more fittingly than the authors intended. That said, there are some things to praise. The destruction of the Enterprise was visually spectacular for all that it was devoid of comparable emotional resonance to the previous films' takes on it. The parallelism with George Kirk presiding over the doomed Kelvin's evacuation and James Kirk presiding over the doomed Enterprise's evacuation was nice, particularly after framing it around Kirk being now a year older than his father was when he died. And it was nice to see Leonard Nimoy's death worked into the plot with the offscreen death of Spock prime making young Spock question his place in Starfleet. But those details aren't enough to make up for the film's flaws relative to the other Star Trek films. While still a very entertaining film, all but one or two of the preceding twelve Star Trek films were better than this one.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From jules4me on 2016-07-24 at 1:42am:
    CONS: The shaky and spinning style of camera work during action/fight scenes was annoying (lazy directing so they don't have to choreograph fight scenes as much). Because we don't get a full picture of the motives and true identity behind the antagonist until the end (which made for a confusing storyline), I had a hard time caring about him by the climax. It's important to be able to get into the backstory of the bad dudes & get into their shoes a bit. The pace of the story didn't flow as smoothly as I'd liked. And what was the deal with Dungeness crab head-chick giving in to threats so easily for something so important? I hope she gets demoted for that (or maybe serve up a few of her crab head-legs for an appetizer).

    Lastly, my son asked me after the movie just how did prime Spock get a hold of a picture of the prime crew (which he left for new/young Spock), since that universe didn't exist anymore. I said the only way that could've happened was that when prime Spock got caught by Nero, one of his henchmen was nice enough to grab prime Spock's satchel of mementos & nick-nacks from his ship and gave it to prime Spock before stranding him on the icy moon and imploding Vulcan (it's my silly theory).

    PROS: I did really like how they showed the warp field around the ship. They have the humorous banter down by this 3rd installment. Nice focus on the Spock-Bones rapport building. Not a lot of pros off the top of my head, but there it is.
  • From JD on 2016-07-24 at 3:43am:
    I saw it last night and largely agree with you, mate. Wasn't exactly thought provoking high brow science fiction. I noticed the possible plot hole with the language too. Also, why did Jaylor need to hide the Franklin so carefully? Krill knew where it was, he parked it there! It would draw more attention to it by hiding it.

    Saying that, it was fun to watch in the theatre with a beer and some pop corn.

    I give them a pass on the advanced star Base stuff. Previous productions would have done it if they'd had the special effects and imagination to come up with it.
  • From Jake on 2016-07-26 at 6:34pm:
    The Beastie Boys were the heroes of the space battle. Enough said
  • From Kelly on 2016-08-07 at 6:54pm:
    Honestly I feel like I was ripped off. I think they found a formula to draw people in during the summer, a lot of action, shakey cameras, and not much story.
    Kinda sad how they rely on the love of the older stuff to draw people.

    Well after this more..I learned my lesson!!
  • From Rob Uk on 2016-09-15 at 7:40pm:
    hahaha it's all about the 'member berries, do you remember Stromtroppers and Chewbacca and kirk and Spock?

    Yeah i love 'member berries, 'member berries make the bland retelling of the now taste a little sweeter, but, you gotta 'member the 'member berries or the sickly sweet nostalgia and retelling of stories that didn't need retold won't work on you, so if you can't get nostalgic about old pop culture icons without being offended about it all being unecessarily remade in the first place then it all falls flat.

    I am nostalgic and offended so i am doubly pissed off.

    The last sci fi story we have had from 'popular culture' which was even close to original was The Matrix and that in itself ripped off about 20 other storties of a similar fashion (Mostly the final Red Dwarf book The Last Human pub 1995) but at least they done it in original style.

    Really sick of the shite Hollywood is churning out this decade
  • From Kevin on 2016-11-26 at 4:25pm:
    I really disliked the first two "Nu Trek" movies. This one, I TRULY tried to give it a chance, and found the first maybe hour and 15 minutes to be fairly good. I liked the acting, the story, mostly everything. It was like they were listening to fans, and tried to not make it utterly dumb. No lens flares, the camera was not shaking constantly and they focused on objects and people for more than a half second or lass, as in the previous movies.
    Then came the motorcycle scene and the silly as hell beastie boys music, that seemed out of place, juvenile, and completely pointless. Then came all the fighting towards the end, and all the good they did, was erased.

    It had so much potential to be fairly good, but it ruined things, to satisfy the "typical movie goer"
  • From John H Adams on 2017-09-22 at 6:28pm:
    Hire a very well paid actor that will be completely covered up. How logical is that?
    Redo the ships interior then immediately destroy it. How logical is that?
    Assume that everybody must be a big fan of the Beastie Boys. How logical is that?
    Have an impossibly young Captain entertaining becoming an Admiral due to boredom? It doesn't work that way.
    Assume that trekkies yearn for Fast and Furious in Space? Probably an illogical assumption.
    This movie would have barely passed for an hour long made for tv show. If I was not a real Trekkie, I may have wanted my money back.
    You can't do stupid stuff just because it has the Star Trek label on it.

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