I grew up in a Star Trek house. A lot of my early memories involved classic Star Trek reruns and watching The Wrath of Khan the way my niece watches Frozen. I can remember the excitement of seeing Star Trek‘s future when TNG was new, and being mildly horrified and fascinated when my Dad told me the new Enterprise had kids on board, and they put them on “the disc” during battle to keep them safe. (I was five; I assumed they beamed them up halfway and stored them on floppies. It was probably a better solution than sticking them all on a big target without warp drive.) It was one of those things that got into my blood, and it stayed there until the 90s anime/Babylon 5 combo showed me there was more to scifi than Star Trek. Relations have been strained since then; I tend to see Star Trek as being moments of brilliance interrupted by long stretches of meh, though catching reruns on TV lately has sort of reawakened my appreciation for it beyond that. More after the cut; and spoilers ho.
Seriously, guys. Spoilers.
I’m guessing my complicated relationship with the Star Trek franchise is at least partially responsible for my lack of hatred for NuTrek, the JJverse, the Kelvin timeline… whatever you want to call it. My horses have long since pulled out of this particular fandom race. I like what I like, I dislike what I dislike, and in what might be one of the most controversial statements I’ve ever made, I respect Abrams for trying to breath life into a franchise that had been sitting there gathering dust.
Star Trek Beyond‘s advertising has pretty much laid out the entire story for the movie, all the way until the end: Enterprise is exploring, gets shredded by lots of little ships that can punch through a hull capable of running into mountains and coming out okay, crew is mostly captured by a guy who we’re told is Idris Elba in lots of alien makeup. Kirk and people too central to be captured mount daring JJverse rescues, with motorcycles and beaming around, the Beasty Boys, and Hollywood’s latest butt-kicking Action Grrrrrl. Post-premier commercials give us a glimpse of a human Idris Elba, too, leading Brad Torgerson to describe the villain as a “Scooby Doo villain.” It is the era of trailers that are two minute long versions of the movie they’re advertising, after all. Two minute versions that are better than the actual film, more often than not.
This is all a pretty much accurate summation of the movie, if you throw in the gay-Sulu controversy. But, weirdly, it doesn’t actually do the movie justice. I was prepared for a stinker. The part of me that reacts to giant spaceships reacts well to Star Trek Into Darkness, but it has to beat down the intelligent part of me for that to happen. Trailers showcasing a not-too-alien-to-be-sexy Action Grrrrl lead me to expect… well. You know. A milder version of that whole Ghostbusters thing. Awesome Womyn! Incompetent Men! Brave Hollywood bravely progressing the envelope! But I was really pleasantly surprised by Beyond. It’s not perfect, by any means, but it’s also definitely not the worst Trek film that’s ever been made. It’s not even the most mediocre Trek film that’s ever been made. I feel like it’s actually towards the middle of the “Good” section.
I’m not going to bother summing up the plot, because, like I said, you know the basic shape of it. So instead, I’m going to run off some thoughts I had about the film. Last Warning on Spoilers!
I could probably go on, but I’m running long. Like I said, though: I was pleasantly surprised by Star Trek Beyond. I feel like it’s a fine entry– at the very least, it’s a step in the right direction.
Josh Young is a seminary student, Castalia House author (featured in God, Robot and author of the forthcoming Do Buddhas Dream of Enlightened Sheep) and blogger at Superversivesf.com If you enjoyed this, we’d love to have you visit our main site!