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TAC Reviews..."To Boldly Go Where No-One Had Gone Before" - The Star Trek Films

 

In this section I am going to take a look at all things Star Trek which will include any of the original films that I want to talk about plus the reboot series.

 

Star Trek Through the Years

 

I have at one time or another seen all of the Star Trek films which started featuring the cast of the Original Series and then changed to The Next Generation, neither the Deep Space Nine or Voyager crews got solo outings on the big screen although apparently Avery Brooks appeared as Sisko in a cameo in First Contact giving Worf command of the Defiant when the Borg attack Earth. I say apparently because Sisko’s scene was cut from the movie and I have been unable to track it down so I honestly have no idea if that was just a rumour or if the footage actually exists (if anyone reading this knows where this scene is send me a link). Kate Mulgrew also reprised her role as Janeway in Star Trek Nemesis but that was the only time that a member of the spin-offs appeared in a Next Generation film.

 

I am going to focus on the reboots because the last Next Generation film was on the big screen was in 2002 so those films have probably faded from the memories of most casual sci-fi fans. The reboot films have brought Star Trek to the masses and so they are going to be the ones that I focus on more than the previous ones, but, like I said if they are worth talking about then I will talk about them here.

 

Below you will find reviews for:

 

Star Trek: Generations

Star Trek: First Contact

Star Trek

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Star Trek: Beyond

 

TAC Reviews...Star Trek: Generations 

 

Following from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country the crew of the original Enterprise had finally had their last big screen adventure. With The Next Generation having done seven successful seasons it seemed only logical to bring them to the big screen in their first motion picture adventure. There are cameos from previous Original Series cast members with William Shatner reprising his role as James T Kirk to team up with Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard. The entire cast of The Next Generation also return to reprise their roles from the television show (and if you don’t know who plays whom then check out my Star Trek The Next Generation series review in the TAC Reviews…TV Shows section to find out).

 

Star Trek Generations

 

I may have mentioned once or twice that I am a fan of Star Trek and whilst there are Federation-esque alliances out there in the big black, it is a rarity that they are as goody-goody as Starfleet in Star Trek. Honestly fixing a damaged ship and sending it on its way does happen but usually it is only if some form of payment or compensation has at first been agreed upon. My people have had numerous skirmishes with a Federation-type organisation called the Coalition over the years, but now is not the time for a history lesson about my people.

 

The Original Series jumped from the small to the big screen and the crew starred in six films before they finally had to step aside and allow The Next Generation crew to take over. Unfortunately this meant that TNG’s first outing was going to be an odd numbered film. Now if you don’t know what I am talking about allow me to explain, basically the even numbered Star Trek films are the good ones whilst the odd numbered ones are generally shit.

 

Don’t believe me, then consider the following:

 

Star Trek: The Motion Picture = Shit

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan = Great

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock = Pretty bad (but one of the better odd ones)

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home = Great

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier = Really, really bad

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country = Great

Star Trek: VII: Generations = …??

 

See what I mean?

 

Now Search for Spock was an odd-numbered but it wasn’t too bad a film. Yes Spock’s heroic act at the end of Wrath of Khan was completely undermined in the next film, which once again proves that death for key characters is something of an irritation rather than something permanent.

 

Generations had the chance to break the mould and give us something great as it saw Captain Kirk and Picard teaming up to take on a madman bent on killing millions.

 

But how could James Kirk team up with Captain Picard when The Original Series takes place roughly 80 year before The Next Generation-era??

 

Sit back and I’ll tell you…

 

The year is 2293 and retired officers James T Kirk, Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) and Pavel Chekov (Walter Koeing) are guests onboard the maiden voyage of the newly christened Enterprise-B. The ship is planning on performing a quick run around the solar system when they pick up a distress call from two El-Aurian ships that are trapped within an energy ribbon. The Enterprise moves to assist and whilst they are able to rescue some of the passengers from the ships, both vessels are destroyed. Before she can get out of range the Enterprise is also caught in the edge of the ribbon and whilst the Enterprise’s captain attempts to surrender control of the bridge to Kirk so he can modify the deflector dish to break them free, Kirk instead goes to deflector control. He is successful in breaking them loose but the trailing edge of the ribbon catches the hull of the ship, and Kirk is lost into space.

 

Seventy-eight years later in 2371 the senior staff of the Enterprise-D are celebrating Wolf’s promotion to Lieutenant Commander on a recreation of a sailing ship on one of the holodecks. During the celebration a misunderstanding sees Data push Dr Crusher into the sea and Picard gets some bad news regarding his brother and nephew. Both have died in a fire and as Picard has never fathered any children the Picard line will end with him. Data, meanwhile, has decided that he is going to finally use the emotion chip left to him by his creator so he can better understand and integrate with the crew.

 

The ship picks up a distress call from an observatory that is under attack and discover an El-Aurian named Tolian Soran (Malcolm McDowell). Data and Geordi investigate the observatory and discover a hidden room containing a compound called trilithium, their job is made more difficult by the emotion chip, which is interfering with Data’s normal actions causing him to act irrationally. Soran appears and attacks the pair. He captures Geordi (big shock there) and he is beamed away by a Klingon Bird-of-Prey controlled by the Duras sisters. The system’s star suddenly implodes; the Enterprise rescues Data, and is forced to flee the area whilst the system is destroyed by a massive shockwave.

 

The Enterprise crew discover from their El-Aurian bartender Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) that Soran is obsessed with the energy ribbon because it is in fact a doorway to another place of pure joy and happiness. Soran was one of the survivors that were beamed out of the ribbon by the Enterprise-B and he has dedicated the last 78 years to finding a way to get back to it.

 

They also learn that by destroying stars Soran is changing the ribbon’s course to make it come to him, and if they cannot stop him then over two hundred and thirty million innocent people are going to die…

 

So the big question is: does The Next Generation film follow the same trend as the Original Series films??

 

Well, yes and no…

 

I have said before that I have never been able to get into The Original Series and really got into The Next Generation at some point mid-way during its run, and then followed it to the end. I am working my way through Deep Space Nine at the moment and have seen most of Voyager. The thing is that back in 1994 when I saw the film I had very little idea who Kirk was, and as I had not seen a sizable chunk of the Next Generation I thought the films was pretty good. Unfortunately, as I review it now, there are so many things that make little to no sense which really harm the overall experience.

 

I’ll drop this and then we’ll get cracking.

 

 

Okay, now straight off the bat, two of the main antagonists in the film are the Duras sisters. If you have watched the show then you know the history of the Duras family, and that the Duras are corrupt looking to grab control of the Klingon Empire anyway they can. I knew enough about the series to know the background of the Duras sisters, but if I were going into the film without that knowledge I wouldn’t have a clue who these two random Klingons were. There is also no attempt to explain to anyone who they are or their back story because in Generations there is no one who doesn’t know who they are. In most films like this there is someone who doesn’t know what is happening and need things explained to them. In Wrath of Khan Chekov was serving on the Reliant and his Captain had no idea who Khan was so he was told, and through him the audience learned who he was. At the time I saw Wrath of Khan I had not seen Space Seed (the episode in which he features) but I was still able to watch and enjoy the film, hell, it made me want to track down the episode of the Original Series Khan appeared in so I’d have more context to the film. But here there is no explanation, so if a non-fan were watching it they’d be scratching their head regarding who these two characters are when clearly Picard and the others are familiar with them.

 

Malcolm McDowell is a fairly reliable bad guy and he does a decent enough job here, but his whole plan revolves around blowing up stars so he can change gravitation forces, thus altering the course of the ribbon. But what makes no sense is the fact that if he knows where the ribbon is going to be and when it is going to be there, he can think of no other way to get into it than to destroy stars. In one scene Picard asks why Soran doesn’t just fly into it in a ship to which Data replies that any ship that gets near it is either destroyed or severely damaged so that is fair enough. But if Soran was beamed out of the ribbon in the past why could he not be beamed back into it now from a safe distance?? Or transported in a space suit into the ribbon’s path so he could get into it without a ship going anywhere near it?? Again there is nothing to suggest that he has tried anything else and destroying stars has become his last desperate attempt.

 

Soran’s plan succeeds and he gets into the energy ribbon (called the Nexus) as planned but Picard is also caught up in it with him. Here the film goes off at a bit of a tangent because we see Picard’s idea of joy, which is a family of his own, and his brother and nephew are both alive. In the series Picard was never shown longing to have a family and was a career officer all the way. His brother and nephew featured in a single episode (Family) and were not see again. Again family members being killed is tragic but apart from visiting them once in Seven Seasons of TNG we haven’t seen or heard from them since. Picard is devastated by their loss but there is not a strong enough emotional connection to the characters to carry much weight. Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of a grieving family member is spot-on, and we’ve never seen Picard weep before, sadly it relies on the audience being emotionally attached to two characters that we saw once during the series.

 

Within the Nexus Picard releases that everything he desires can be made real, but it is all ultimately an illusion. Millions of people died when Soran destroyed the second star and Picard wonders if he could leave the Nexus. He meets an “echo” of Guinan (don’t ask) who tells him that he can leave whenever he wants and go whenever he wants.

 

Okay…I’m just going to interrupt myself for a second here.

 

Just consider that last line: “he can leave whenever he wants and go whenever he wants”

 

Now if you were Picard and could go anywhere and any-when where would you go?

 

Perhaps back to Earth before the fire that killed his brother and nephew in order to save them?

 

Maybe back to when they first discovered Soran and throw him in a holding cell?

 

Or further to other tragedies that we have seen during The Next Generation’s run??

 

Stopping the Borg killing 11,000 Starfleet officers and destroying 39 starships at Wolf 359 just to name one off the top of my head??

 

Nope, Picard instead opts to return to the planet he faced Soran on, in order to have another crack at preventing him launching his weapon into the sun and destroying the system.

 

 

Seriously, you could have gone anywhere you wanted, and that is the moment you chose to return to?? There are a hundred different places that he could have gone, but for whatever reason he decides to have another go at beating Soran. However, recognising that he needs help, Guinan suggests someone that is also trapped within the Nexus…James T Kirk.

 

Kirk wasn’t killed when the hull breached on the Enterprise-B and has spent the last eight decades within the Nexus. Within short order Picard is able to convince Kirk to return to the planet with him so together they can stop Soran.

 

Thing is that even together things go awry and the two legendary Captains look set to lose, but the question that hangs over the finale is why, if things go wrong, don’t they let Soran use his weapon, destroy the sun, enter the Nexus, leave the Nexus and try again?? They could do it a dozen, a hundred, a thousand times until they got it right but they do it once, and yes they stop Soran but there is a casualty.

 

Plus the El-Aurians are refugees being transported by the two ships that encounter the Nexus at the start of the film. So Starfleet and the Federation have known of the El-Aurians for at least eighty years but no one in Starfleet knew about the Borg until Q threw the Enterprise-D into the flight path of a cube in Q, Who? So why has no one heard of the Borg?? The El-Aurians’ civilisation was wiped out by the Collective so did none of them think to tell Starfleet or the Federation about the race of cybernetic aliens bent on assimilating other races into their Hive Mind?? We see Guinan in the opening being rescued by the Enterprise-B so we know she was there in 2293 however who wiped out their race and turned them into refugees was a question that no one thought to ask and they did not think to tell. It smacks of a script that has no links to the series it is based upon and I honestly don’t see what it adds to the story to have Soran as an El-Aurian survivor when events that happened in the series are ignored anyway.

 

Which brings me to my next point, the destruction of the Enterprise-D. Whilst Picard is busy stopping Soran on the planet’s surface the Duras sisters attack and are able to subsequently destroy the Enterprise. They accomplish this when Geordi’s VISOR is implanted with a camera so they can see what he sees, and whilst he is Engineering the ship’s shield frequency comes into view so the Duras alter their weapons to operate on the same frequency rendering the shields useless…

 

Right, first thing wrong with that idea. Geordi has been held against his will and tortured by hostile entities (not surprise there) before and his VISOR has been used in a previous episode to implant subliminal messages in his brain. Therefore the VISOR is susceptible to sabotage, did no one in security on the Enterprise think to check the VISOR for listening devices or if it had been tampered with?? Could they not have replicated him a new one and thrown the old one away just in case someone was trying to use it to spy on the ship?? Also, if the VISOR is transmitting a signal strong enough for the Klingon ship to pick up, why hasn’t the Enterprise’s sensors detected it??

 

If we stick a pin in that point for a moment, we immediately hit another wall. On numerous occasions when the Enterprise has encountered the Borg they have modulated their shield frequencies to keep a Borg ship from locking on to them with a tractor beam. So why when the first torpedoes penetrated their shields did they not think to re-modulate them?? Or have the shields on a constantly shifting frequency notation meaning that an enemy could not match their weapons to it because it keeps changing??

 

It doesn’t make sense and demonstrates that the writers and David Carson, the man sitting in the director’s chair have no idea about the source material. When the Enterprise fired on a Borg cube, torpedoes were launched; phasers on top of the saucer section as well as ones on the engineering hull were fired. Yet in the battle between the Bird-of-Pray (a ship 20 years old) and the Galaxy-class starship, the Enterprise fires its phasers once and a single torpedo…that’s it. Destroying the main setting of the show is a bold move but the way the Enterprise-D is lost is not a fitting end for the vessel that audiences have watched get out of scrape after scrape during the seven seasons of The Next Generation. Plus as I mentioned in my Redshirts book review, on the Enterprise-D the shields were always the first system to fail so the ship has managed to survive without it shields on numerous occasions before. Why then this time did the command crew forget everything they knew about their previous adventures and allow the ship to be lost??

 

There is some good here, the main cast all reprise their roles and Brent Spiner is given more freedom with Data, as this time around he has his emotion chip, so is not coldly logical like he was the show. He nabs two of the best moments when he expresses himself regarding the destruction of the Klingon ship, and the imminent crash of the Enterprise’s saucer section. Which again is pretty visually impressive when it crashes into the planet’s surface flinging those inside around like rag-dolls.

 

I will say that Generations is by no means the worst of the odd-numbered movies and despite all of its flaws it is entertaining enough. But it is rather a shaky first big screen adventure of The Next Generation crew. With a better script and direction from someone who actually knows the source material (like Jonathan Frakes) then this passing of the torch could have been so much better. Kirk and Picard teaming up should have been really cool but it was just dumb and saw the two legendary Captains going up against an opponent that would have barely been a footnote in an episode of either The Original Series or The Next Generation.

 

I don’t think that I can realistically give Generations a Thumbs Down because it is not that bad a film, sadly it falls down on so many points. It could have been really cool but regrettably it is not so much a passing of the torch as a fumbling of the torch, dropping the torch in a puddle, struggling to light it again, and then handing it over before the flame can go out…I can’t give it a Thumbs Up either because of all it does badly so I will leave my Thumb Horizontal.

 

 

6/10 – A very shaky start for the big screen adventures of The Next Generation, however it has its moments and let’s be honest it could have been a lot worse, Final Frontier worse…

 

TAC Reviews...Star Trek: First Contact

 

This film is now 20 years old (yes 20 years old, Christ where does the time go??) and is without a doubt the best Star Trek film ever…that is simply a fact. The Wrath of Khan was also great but this beats all other Star Trek movies easily, still, I am getting ahead of myself. So, the film was released in 1996 and featured The Next Generation cast in their first solo adventure without links to The Original Series and was directed by Jonathan Frakes.

 

Star Trek First Contact Poster

 

It is a well known fact amongst fans that the even numbered Star Trek films are the best ones, this trend started with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, continued with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Final Frontier and now Star Trek VIII: First Contact. I will take a look at the Rebooted films at some point but for the moment I am going to talk about this masterpiece of filmmaking.

 

Okay, I’m going to stop drooling over this film for a second to tell you what is going on, so let’s engage our warp engines and find out…

 

The Borg attack Earth, and after disobeying orders not to interfere in the battle, Captain Picard takes the new Enterprise-E back to Earth. Thanks to his knowledge of the Collective Picard is able to turn the tide of the battle and the assembled fleet destroy the cube. A small sphere is launched from the dying ship moments before its destruction and travels back in time using a temporal vortex to the moment of First Contact between humans and the Vulcans. Whilst the vortex is being formed the Enterprise is caught in its “temporal-wake” (don’t ask) and follows the ship back to the past to repair whatever damage they have done to the timeline.

 

The main cast from the next generation all reprised their roles. Picard (Patrick Stewart), Data (Brent Spiner), and Worf (Michael Dorn) rescued during the battle from Deep Space Nine’s USS Defiant (as he was a cast member of Deep Space Nine at the time) and Crusher (Gates McFadden) make up the main crew trapped on the Enterprise as it is slowly assimilated. Whilst Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Troi (Marina Sirtis), and La Forge (LeVar Burton) are on Earth trying to repair the first warp capable ship built by Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) which was damaged when the sphere attacked, and before the Enterprise destroyed it. When the Enterprise first arrived their shields were down and the Borg beamed over before their own vessel was destroyed by the more powerful sovereign-class starship.

 

The eighth Star Trek film is the best of the bunch…fact…but naturally I will explain why.

 

The Borg are the perfect enemies to be taken from the small screen to the big screen, and their make-up has been tweaked to make them truly diabolical.

 

The Borg in the series looked like this…

 

 

And in the film they look like this…

 

 

Jesus…now there is a true abomination of human and technology…they are more like mechanical zombies than living things.

 

During the film we witness crew members being assimilated and having eyes or limbs removed to be replaced by cybernetic components. This film has a 12 rating and pushes the boundaries of what we have seen in The Next Generation. As the crew of the Enterprise are assimilated the numbers of survivors dwindles, as the Borg get stronger, and the crew only get weaker. Weapons become useless as the onslaught continues. The moment in which a drone injects nanoprobes into an officer’s neck, and as he is slowly assimilated he reaches out for his captain and begs for help is a terrifying sight to behold. Here you see people being consumed by the power of Collective and unlike in previous encounters with the Borg the Enterprise is no longer a safe-haven as the ship is becoming a nightmare for those trapped onboard.

 

Plus the Enterprise-E is just so cool…check it out…

 

 

The episode voted by vans as the best in Star Trek, The Best of Both Worlds (in which Picard is assimilated by the Borg) features heavily as Picard become increasingly obsessed with destroying the Borg infesting the Enterprise. There are some leanings towards Ahab and Moby Dick (with Picard even paraphrasing a line uttered by Ahab) and whilst I know people that don’t like the idea that Picard is seeking revenge I loved it. Picard is ultimately human, and he was violated by the Borg in mind and his body mutilated, his knowledge of Federation technology was used to massacre thousands of Starfleet Officers and now he is confronted by Starfleet’s deadliest enemy yet again.

 

First Contact also introduces the Borg Queen, a singular mind that controls the desires of the Collective. The Queen functions as the face of the Collective and tries to seduce Data (an android) into joining her by giving him flesh and blood. Taking him closer to humanity than he had thought possible. During his time as the assimilated drone Locutus of Borg, the Queen was present on the cube and she had selected him because she wanted to have a counterpart within the Collective. Picard resisted her and was assimilated. This time Data is the object of her attention as he has locked out the Enterprise’s computer system. In The Best of Both Worlds it is a little contrived and convenient to say that the Queen was present on that ship and we never actually saw her but the fact that Picard has blocked her out of his mind shows how deep his trauma at her hands actually goes.

 

Naturally as this is a Star Trek film it is mainly going to be for fans of the series, however, Lily Sloane (Alfre Woodard), Cochrane’s assistant is injured during the Borg attack and transported to the Enterprise for treatment. Essentially Sloane is the person who doesn’t know what is going on and through her, the audience learn about the Borg and Picard, which makes First Contact accessible for fans and nonfans alike.

 

Star Trek: First Contact is the best Star Trek film in years and is the best of the original ten (and even the new Star Trek films). The Borg being on the Enterprise means that the crew don’t have their own ship to escape to any longer. The sequences in which weapons are being fired at the drones, two fall, but the next one has adapted and keeps coming. Q (John De Lancie) in Q Who? (the Next Generation episode in which the Borg were officially introduced) describes the Borg as being “relentless” and in First Contact they truly are.

 

The special effects are flawless, from the battle between Starfleet and the cube, to the visual feast of the unfortunate Enterprise crew members being assimilated. This film is the perfect example of what a good story, coupled with an excellent cast, and a director who knows his subject inside out and back to front can accomplish. Frakes easily directs his co-stars into giving powerful performances, and manages to make the usually unshakable Picard seem like a Captain Ahab prepared to sacrifice anyone and everyone to get revenge on the Borg for assimilating him and being responsible for killing billions and assimilating trillions more.

 

A Star Trek film that is not just amazing to fans but to also non-fans is a rare thing. Star Trek First Contact isn’t just a great film, but it is one of the best films ever. It takes the Borg from the series and makes them terrifying, the cast are all in their prime, and we get to see Picard in more of an action man role that we rarely got to see in the series.

 

The sets and make-up effects used in First Contact got re-used over and over in Star Trek: Voyager so if you’re wondering why the Borg in The Next Generation looked so different to the ones seen in Voyager it is because when they had a TV budget that was the best they could do. Star Trek First Contact had a movie’s budget behind it so the sets and Borg themselves could be made to look far more scary. Naturally those sets weren’t going to go to waste after the film so were adopted and used in the TV show Star Trek Voyager. Whilst on the subject of Voyager, Robert Picardo reprises his role as an EMH (that’s Emergency Medical Hologram) for a funny cameo and Ethan Phillips (who plays Neelix) also appears without his make-up as the owner of a nightclub so keep your eyes peeled for him.

 

Yes, there is no such thing as a perfect film and there are a couple of niggling things that bugged me a bit about First Contact, one was when a crew member says that the Borg control Decks 26 to 11 but later Picard says to Lilly [that] “there are 24 Decks”…so how can they have assimilated Deck 26 to 11 if there if there isn’t a Deck 25 and 26?? My theory is that Engineering is described as one deck but is made up of three decks so technically there are 26 Decks but as 3 of them are Engineering the ship has 24 decks…it is a minor point but it does bug me a little bit. Also when Wolf blows up a bunch of drones he says “Assimilate this” before firing his phaser but he doesn’t say it with any passion…the delivery should have been “Assimilate…THIS!!!!!” but it wasn’t which robs it of being a badass one liner that could have been up there with “Hasta La Vista…Baby” from Terminator 2. Still if there are only two minor things that I didn’t like in this film then it just goes to show how spectacular the rest of the film is.

 

I cannot imagine giving this film anything less than a Thumbs Up, but that is not doing it the justice it deserves. The new Enterprise-E is insanely cool, the battle between the Cube and Starfleet is spectacular, and the story plus acting are flawless…this film is getting my rare 2 Thumbs Up because even 20 years later it is still a magnificent example of sci-fi action.

 

 

10/10 – Basically Star Trek First Contact is an amazing film, and demonstrates what movies made from TV shows are capable of doing. The effects are perfect, the acting spot on, and the direction is damn near flawless. I love this film and I guarantee that if you are a fan of sci-fi you will too…check it out…because you will not be disappointed.

 

TAC Reviews...J.J Abrams Rebooted Star Trek Films

 

Following on from the final mission for The Next Generation crew in Star Trek Nemesis and the cancellation of Star Trek Enterprise, the Star Trek franchise seemed to have finally run out of steam. However, in 2009 it was given a reboot as Lost creator J.J. Abrams took the helm to direct Star Trek which would either give the franchise its much needed revival or bury it forever.

 

TAC Reviews...Star Trek

 

The film stars Chris Pine taking the role of James T Kirk, with Zachary Quinto as Spock, with Zoe Saldana as Nyota Uhura. Leonard Nimoy also returns to the role that made him famous also playing a much older version of Spock (I’ll explain how that works in a bit) and Simon Pegg stars as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott with Karl Urban as Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy.

 

Star Trek Poster

 

My love of the Star Trek franchise is well known, if you’ve read my reviews of certain books and Star Trek First Contact then this will come as nothing new to you. Now, whilst I loved The Next Generation, and I certainly enjoyed DS9 and Voyager the latter two did not carry the same place in my hearts as The Next Generation did. I attempted to watch Enterprise but couldn’t get into that one, and The Original Series aired before I arrived on this planet so although I have seen a few episodes it was far too cheesy for my liking

 

I was therefore quite open to the possibility of a reboot so long as it didn’t try and affect the canon of The Next Generation, DS9 or Voyager. Thankfully that is not what happened, here the events of the film shift it into an alternate timeline so we have now two universes, the Prime universe and the Alternate Universe, not to be confused with the Mirror Universe, so if you’re still with me lets engage our warp engines and check this reboot out…

 

In 2233, the USS Kelvin is investing a bizarre lightning storm in space when a Romulan mining ship, the Narada, appears. Without provocation it opens fire on the Kelvin easily penetrating the vessels shields before ordering the immediate surrender of the ship and everyone onboard. The Narada’s Captain, Nero (Eric Bana) demands that the Kelvin’s captain, Robau come aboard. He does as requested and is questioned about the stardate and “Ambassador” Spock, who Robau has never heard off. Robau is murdered by Nero and the Narada resumes fire on the Kelvin devastating the ship. Realising the vessel is doomed, its First Officer George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) remains behind as the crew, including his pregnant wife abandon the ship. Setting a collision course with the Narada Kirk sacrifices himself and the Kelvin to ensure everyone escapes just as his son James Tiberius Kirk is born.

 

Several years later George’s son James Kirk (Chris Pine) has become a reckless, directionless but intelligent man. After a bar fight he crosses paths with Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), who tells him that his father was the captain of a starship of 12 minutes and saved 800 lives, then challenges him to do better.

 

Kirk enrols in Starfleet Academy, where he meets Dr Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, and Spock (Quinto). Kirk is a headstrong young man and clashes with Spock’s logical way of doing things. Kirk’s attitude and his reckless ways are challenged during the “No win” scenario, the Kobayashi Maru simulation, after Kirk manages to beat the simulation, ridiculously easily. The Academy decide to investigate how he beat the scenario and realise that he cheated to win, but the hearing to decide if he will be expelled is delayed when the Federation receives an urgent distress call from Vulcan. The cadets head to their ships, including the Enterprise and whilst Kirk is forbidden to go he is smuggled onboard by Bones.

 

Onboard the Enterprise Captain Pike is in command with his Navigations Officer Hikaru Sulu (John Cho) and Operations Officer Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin). The rest of the fleet jumps to warp and after being momentarily delayed the Enterprise follows the other ships to Vulcan. They arrive in the middle of a debris field, the Narada is in orbit and attacking the planet, and it is only because Spock is on the Enterprise that Nero spares the vessel.

 

Nero is a man driven by revenge who has been thrown back in time and has his sights set on not only destroying Vulcan but Earth too…

 

So, following on from the cancellation of Enterprise and the end of The Next Generation run of films, it seemed that for the first time in four decades Star Trek may have left our screens permanently.

 

But it seems that rightly or wrongly no one was ready to allow the Star Trek franchise to die off so the task was given to J.J. Abrams (the creator of Lost and director of Mission Impossible 3) to bring the franchise back to the big screen once again. As I mentioned above the plot involves time travel and basically results in the story shifting into a parallel universe which cleverly keeps everything that has gone before canon but allows Abrams to re-write the characters’ lives and histories in a new way. This I am perfectly fine with because it means that the established canon is unaffected, The Next Generation and those that followed, DS9 and Voyager still happened, so Abrams is not saying that the series I enjoyed are not still valid in the canon.

 

The Narada is a simple mining ship and if it had gone up against the Enterprise-E it wouldn’t have stood a chance (as the original starting time for Nero and Spock Prime is 2387 – eight years after the events of Nemesis) but here the mining ship is a hundred and fifty years more advanced than the Starfleet vessels so can be more than a match for anything that can be thrown at it.

 

Star Trek is an action packed affair that sees Leonard Nimoy reprises his role as Spock, and features a new cast all eager to make the roles their own. He is referred to as Spock Prime as he is from the “Primary” Universe (see what they did there) and offers certain advice plus guidance to Kirk and the younger version of himself.

 

In her final role Majel Barrett gives her voice to the Enterprise’s computer (a speaking part she has had through The Next Generation to Voyager), she finished the role two weeks before her death, and the film is dedicated to her and her late husband and creator of Star Trek Gene Roddenberry.

 

Anton Yelchin is a particular highlight as the young Pavel Chekov, whose accent occasionally means that the Enterprise’s computer cannot always understand him. The sequence in which he is running through the ship to get to the transporter is especially enjoyable to watch. Karl Urban is also great fun as Dr “Bones” McCoy, who tells Kirk upon their first meeting that [his wife took the planet in the divorce so all he has left is his Bones]. That fact that he also initially likes Spock is also pretty amusing considering how antagonistic their relationship was in The Original Series. Pegg is also pretty entertaining as Scotty and as someone who has been a fan of his since the sitcom Spaced I remember his character from that show saying that every odd numbered Star Trek film was shit (starting with The Motion Picture, continuing with Search for Spock, then Final Frontier and so on) so to see him in an odd numbered Star Trek means that we are expecting big things from him and this film.

 

There is a lot to like here but unfortunately there is also one major thorn in this film’s side and that is Chris Pine’s portrayal of Kirk. I have to say that I didn’t mind him too much, it is kind-of implied that Kirk being the captain of the Enterprise is like the final piece of the puzzle, that he and the ship fit together, one is not complete without the other. Only Kirk can succeed if he is in command of the Enterprise and Nero cannot be stopped if Kirk is not sitting in the captain’s chair, this does bug me a little but not as much as it bugged someone I know that is a big fan of The Original Series.

 

Allow me to explain, in The Original Series James T Kirk was the young Captain of the Federation’s Flagship Enterprise because he was just that good. He had worked his way through the ranks and got the promotion to the Captain of the flagship because he deserved it. Here, Kirk is very cocky, arrogant, and like I said he is built up as destined to be the flagship’s Captain just because he is James T Kirk and not because he is the best of the best. Nowhere is this Kirk’s arrogant attitude demonstrated better than in the Kobayashi Maru simulation. From what I understand, Kirk Prime reprogrammed the simulation so it was possible to rescue the ship, so it was possible to save the ship. This Kirk basically sets the simulation into God-Mode removing any and all challenge from the proceedings. He doesn’t make it possible to win, he makes it impossible to lose, and that says a lot about his character because whilst I have played games using cheats before if you remove all challenge then it makes the game pointless. How is this Kirk supposed to prove how good he is if he has removed all challenge from the simulation, plus the simulation itself is designed to be a test of character, Kirk Prime didn’t believe in the “No win” scenario and that very fact tests his character. This Kirk just wants to beat the simulation, he isn’t bothered about learning anything, he just wants to show off to everyone around him.

 

I didn’t mind Pine’s portrayal of Kirk that much but for a friend of my skin sack it was a deal-breaker, and he has subsequently disregarded the sequels that followed this film. That is a perspective that I can understand, personally though I still enjoyed the film, it had enough tongue-in-cheek humour and action to keep me entertained.

 

It may also be petty but I don’t like the way that they have changed the warp effects, I like the old way, but hey-ho

 

Ultimately I will give the film a Thumbs Up because I can see what Abrams is trying to do, he is trying to bring Star Trek to the attention of the masses, and rightly or wrongly this will keep the franchise alive on the big screen even if it never again appears on the small screen.

 

Die-hard Star Trek fans may not be happy about some of the changes, especially considering that in this film Kirk seems destined to become captain, whereas in The Original Series he was the captain because he was the best and had worked up through the ranks. The warp effects have also been changed for some reason which I found a little irritating. However, on the whole the film re-energises the Star Trek franchise which isn’t a bad thing as far as I am concerned

 

 

7/10 – I am perhaps being a little charitable because whilst Pine’s Kirk is a little too arrogant and him becoming captain of the Enterprise is like Arthur finding the Sword in the Stone I cannot fault that the rest of the cast who all do well. The effects are impressive and more importantly this film does the difficult task of breathing new life into the Star Trek franchise without affecting the shows and films that came before.

 

TAC Reviews...Star Trek Into Darkness

 

The second film in the reboot series Star Trek Into Darkness sees the primary cast of the previous film reprising their roles with Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, and so on. Joining the cast for this adventure are Peter Weller, Benedict Cumberbatch, with Alice Eve and Leonard Nimoy. This was the final time that Nimoy would portray Spock Prime and his last one screen appearance before his death in 2015.

 

Star Trek Into Darkness Poster

 

There is kind-of a spoiler here before we even get started, I’m not going to drop my usual spoiler warning because the trailers basically ruined the surprise revelation regarding who Cumberbatch would be portraying. He is the reboot’s Khan (first seen in The Original Series episode Space Seed before returning as the antagonist in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), now as Wrath of Khan was considered by many, okay by me, to be the best film until Star Trek First Contact hit the big screen, so Into Darkness had its work cut out before it had even begun, naturally as this is a Star Trek film I am already getting ahead of myself…let me slow down, and let’s see what the crew of the new Enterprise has been up to…

 

The film opens with Kirk and Bones running through an alien forest with a group of angry locals in pursuit, behind them a massive volcano is about erupt which will destroy all life on the planet. In an attempt to save the planet Spock, Sulu and Uhura are onboard a shuttle hiding in the ash cloud as they attempt to drop a device into the volcano that will flash freeze all the magma, thus preventing the eruption. The ash damages the shuttle’s engines and Spock ends up on a island within the crater surrounded by lava, he prepares to activate the device to save the planet but sacrifice himself in the process.

 

Kirk and Bones leap off a cliff and swim to the Enterprise which is submerged just off shore, once he is back onboard his ship Kirk learns that the shuttle has had to pull up from the cloud and Spock is trapped in the volcano. Despite the locals of the planet standing on top of the cliff, Kirk decides to launch the Enterprise in full view of the pre-industrial natives, and flies into the ash cloud in order to beam Spock to safety. The device explodes moments later saving the planet, and Spock with the rest of the reassembled Enterprise crew warp back to Earth whilst the natives start drawing images of the starship they have just witnessed in the earth at their feet before bowing to it.

 

Upon their return to Earth, Kirk once again finds himself in hot water because Spock included Kirk’s violation of the Prime Directive in his report on the mission to the planet, whereas Kirk omitted the full details in his report. Starfleet is none-too-happy about the fact that not only did Kirk interfere in the natural evolution of a planet but he exposed the Enterprise to the natives which goes against Starfleet’s Prime Directive.

 

…Just so you know the Prime Directive states that the Federation will not interfere in the natural evolution of a planet or species…therefore they won’t share technology to pre-warp societies, or give any indication that there is life in space until those life forms have evolved to the point where they were ready at which point First Contact may be initiated…

 

Anyway, Kirk is relieved of command of the Enterprise and the ship is returned to Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood reprising his role) with Kirk as First Officer. Kirk is also pissed off because he saved Spock’s life but his Vulcan friend then threw him under the bus by telling the truth in his report. Meanwhile a man (Cumberbatch) approaches a Starfleet officer and cures his daughter of a terminal illness, the Officer then goes to a Section 31 facility, he fulfils his part of the man’s offer and detonates a bomb destroying the facility.

 

In the crisis meeting that follows the same man attacks in a ship and kills several members of the cabinet, including Pike, before transporting himself to Kronos, the Klingon Homeworld. Kirk and Spock are informed by Admiral Marcus that the man is a former Starfleet Operative named John Harrison that has gone rogue.

 

Kirk is reinstated as Captain of the Enterprise and is ordered by Marcus to go to the outskirts of Klingon Space, then fire a series of long ranged torpedoes as Harrison, before returning to Federation territory. Scotty objects to having the weapons onboard and resigns his commission, leading Kirk to promote Chekov to Chief Engineer.

 

On route to Kronos the Enterprise’s engines go offline stranding the vessel in Klingon Space, Kirk decides to apprehend Harrison and travels to Kronos and after a scuffle with the Klingons that Harrison saves them from, the operative surrenders.

 

Once back onboard the Enterprise Harrison tells them that he was not always known as Harrison, he is actually none other than Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically engineered superman that was awoken from cryogenic suspension in order to develop weapons of war for use against the Klingons. But warns Kirk that a far more dangerous threat is lurking within Starfleet and the Enterprise is in mortal danger…

 

So Star Trek shifted the audience into a Alternate Universe and therefore new ideas can be explored or characters from the original canon can reappear. Wrath of Khan was one of the best Star Trek films and one of the main reasons being that the character of Khan is so interesting. I saw Wrath of Khan before Space Seed but liked Khan immensely. His charm, his intelligence and also his ruthlessness made him the perfect enemy from The Original Series to the big screen (just as the Borg were the perfect enemy from Next Generation to get a big screen outing in First Contact). In this new canon it wasn’t Kirk that found the Botany Bay and awoke Khan from his centuries long slumber, and so this Khan has been active on Earth for an unspecified amount of time.

 

I really enjoyed Ricardo Montalban’s portrayal of the character in both the episode Space Seed and The Wrath of Khan, I am also a big fan of Benedict Cumberbatch so was curious to see how he would portray Khan. Now one of the biggest issues that I have with the Alternate Khan as opposed to Khan Prime is that there is no mystery here of how ruthless Khan is, we see him orchestrating a bombing of a Section 31 facility so he can murder numerous Admirals and Captains when they gather for an emergency meeting. So Khan Prime was a mystery, he was initially charming, obviously intelligent, he convinced Kirk to awaken other members of his crew, he seduced the Enterprise’s historian and only later on did he attempt to take control of the Enterprise. We initially have no idea why “Harrison” attacked but once he is taken into custody he informs Kirk of exactly who he is and why he did what he did. Kirk and his crew listen to what he has to say and after he gives Kirk a series of co-ordinates he contacts Scotty (who is back on Earth) then asks him to investigate what is out there.

 

Naturally there will be differences between Alternate Khan and Khan Prime, and honestly I have no real issues with Cumberbatch’s portrayal, he gives Khan a very sinister edge, he is clearly very powerful and looks at everyone around him like they are nothing more than bugs he wants to squash. Sadly we don’t get to see the charming side to the character. Khan’s intension is to rescue the rest of his crew that are still sealed away in their cryogenic tubes, but he doesn’t attempt to get the crew of the Enterprise to understand why he has done what he has done. As Pike’s killer Kirk is obviously not going to see Khan as anything other than a murderer, so we never get to see Khan as anything other than a villain, we don’t see his transition from being polite, charming and so on to being the ruthless superman that Khan Prime was.

 

Let me just quickly drop this…

 

 

In the trailer it was pretty obvious that Cumberbatch was going to be the villain, it wasn’t until later that we learned that he’d be the new version of Khan, but Khan is actually one of two villains. The other is Admiral Marcus who intended Kirk to fire on Kronos, kill Khan who Marcus used to developed weapons to use in a war Marcus believes is coming with the Klingons. Then when the Enterprise got stranded in Klingon space and was subsequently destroyed by the Klingons Marcus would have an excuse to go to war using the weapons that Khan has designed for him. I liked the idea that Marcus needed Khan’s ruthlessness and intelligence to wage a war because people on in the 24th century have become too civilised to fight properly. Now when Kirk captures Khan, Marcus arrives in a huge warship the USS Vengeance that Khan designed, that not only dwarfs the Enterprise but is also intending on destroying the Enterprise himself to trigger the war.

 

The Enterprise flees intending to return to Earth and tell Starfleet what Marcus was trying to do, but is attacked in warp by Marcus’ ship. So yeah, the Enterprise get’s fucked up again, but I’ll get back to that in a minute. So it seems that Khan is not actually the villain, Marcus is, and Kirk reluctantly teams up with the superman in the hopes that if they board the Vengeance Khan can shut the ship down before the Enterprise can be destroyed. This could have been really interesting, maybe taking Khan in a different direction, but Spock phones Spock Prime and asks if he knows of a man called Khan. Spock Prime has taken a vow in which he will not tell young Spock anything that could affect the way he lives his life, but that doesn’t stop Spock Prime telling young Spock exactly who Khan is, and they cannot trust him. So when they take over the Vengeance Kirk attempts to stun him, but Khan awakens, and resumes the attack on the Enterprise. Honestly I think it would have been far more interesting if Khan hadn’t betrayed Kirk and the others. Still, both villains are pretty entertaining who have their own agendas with the unfortunate crew of the Enterprise caught in the crossfire.

 

I cannot deny that the Vengeance looks really cool and dwarfs the much smaller Enterprise

 

USS Enterprise Vs USS Vengeance

 

See, it is cool isn’t it??

 

But, yet again in these reboot films the Enterprise finds itself on the wrong end of a ship much more powerful that itself. In Star Trek it was a mining ship that was 150 years more advanced than anything Starfleet had, and in Into Darkness we have a warship designed by a genetically engineered superman that has full access to Starfleet’s tactical database. I am waiting for a reboot film in which the Enterprise doesn’t get completely fucked up, but it doesn’t happen here. Once again we have a far more powerful ship that takes the Enterprise without even trying and it is only thanks to Spock’s ingenuity that the Enterprise survives. Oh, yeah, take a look at the Vengeance and the Enterprise, in the trailer a ship crashes into the planet, which of the two do you recon it is??

 

The cast are once again pretty entertaining, and are reprising the roles that they had in 2009’s Star Trek.

 

I need to give you a little bit of a back story here, but in Space Seed, Chekov and Khan never met onscreen and yet in Wrath of Khan, suggesting that Chekov was on the Enterprise during Space Seed but wasn’t yet assigned to the bridge. Khan recognises Chekov which has lead to several fan theories which state how both met off-screen on the Enterprise. My favourite of these was that Chekov was in a toilet when Khan really needed to go, and after keeping him waiting Khan swore vengeance against him. In keeping with this running joke Chekov and Khan never actually meet, Chekov is assigned to engineering, and so he and Khan never cross paths. It is a sly reference to the original episode and a slight continuity issue. I have to say that both Anton Yelchin and Karl Urban continue to be highlights as Pavel Chekov and Dr “Bones” McCoy respectively, plus the film decides to show the audience a woman in her underwear…

 

 

This is apparently controversial…not sure why, but take a gander and decide for yourself.

 

Unfortunately Kirk’s arrogance is still a sticking point with me. He completely disregards the Prime Directive and lies about it in his report, then acts like Spock is the asshole because he told the truth. We’re given some crap about Kirk never having lost anyone whilst he’s been in command, but losses happen, people die, space exploration is dangerous but that doesn’t give Kirk the right to do whatever he wants. Good captains loose people. If someone has to be sacrificed for the greater good or to not violate the Prime Directive then so be it, Kirk Prime understood that, Alternate Kirk clearly doesn’t.

 

In addition when Kirk is removed from command of the Enterprise and Pike is put back in command you know exactly what is going to happen. If Kirk is now the Enterprise’s First Officer then the only way he is going to be back in command is if Pike dies, so you are just waiting for it to happen and it does in short order. I’m honestly not sure why this was even done, if Pike was going to be do casually killed off, why include it in the film?? I get that they are trying to motivate Kirk into going after Khan and capturing him alive because they is what Pike would have wanted but Pike’s death is ultimately meaningless.

 

The ending also left me a little disappointed, the Vengeance is destroyed, and the Enterprise is repaired then re-commissioned to begin its five-year mission. The thing is that Starfleet still has the plans for the Vengeance so why not rebuilt that ship, add labs and other scientific equipment, paint it silver, rename it Enterprise then send it out on a five-year mission?? That way, Kirk is in command of a supremely powerful ship that is more than capable of defending itself from pretty much any enemy it might come across but can also push the boundaries of science and exploration as well?? That is what I would have done and considering the Vengeance is one of the biggest and most powerful ships in the Star Trek canon it makes far more sense to me than rebuilding a ship that has been fucked up not once but twice since Kirk first boarded her, don’t you agree??

 

There is a lot to like and as it has become the highest grossing Star Trek film to date it must have done something right. Cumberbatch is a very interesting Khan, yes he lacks the charm of Khan Prime, but he is undoubtedly powerful, dangerously intelligent, and the looks he gives everyone around him just cements his genetically superior nature. I did enjoy this film, yes there were a few issues but the reasons to like it far outweigh the issues, so I am giving Star Trek Into Darkness a very solid Thumbs Up, it may not be as good as First Contact but is easily one of the best Star Trek films ever made.

 

 

8/10 – Another solid edition to the reboot series and surpasses its predecessor with a more interesting villain, the actions sequences are very impressive (and for the eagle-eyed viewer there is a brief cameo from R2D2) and the cast are all on top form as they reprise their roles from 2009’s Star Trek.

 

TAC Reviews...Star Trek Beyond

 

The third film in the rebooted series sees the cast returning and unlike the previous two films isn’t set on Earth at any time. This film was released with something of a melancholy background as this marks the last film for Leonard Nimoy who died in 2015 and Anton Yelchin’s final appearance as Chekov as he was tragically killed in a car-related incident a month prior to the film’s release.

 

Star Trek Beyond Poster

 

I will talk about both the passing of Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin later on, but for the moment, the Enterprise has been on its five-year mission for three years, and let’s take a look at how the crew are getting on…

 

The film opens with Kirk (Pine) trying to give an artefact to one alien race as a gift from another as a peace offering, things don’t go well, and Kirk is forced to beam back to his ship with a ripped shirt. Kirk then makes his Captain’s Log in which he notes that over the last three years their mission has become quite episodic and he starts thinking that maybe exploring the final frontier is not all it is cracked up to be. The Enterprise crew have somewhat gotten used to their mission with many of them engaging in casual and not so casual relationships. The Enterprise is due to visit a massive space station named Yorktown, where it turns out Kirk has applied for the position of Vice Admiral in command of the station, and recommended Spock to replace him, meanwhile, Spock has learned of Spock Prime’s death and is planning on leaving Starfleet to continue Spock Prime’s work in his honour.

 

The rest of the crew are enjoying their shore leave when an escape pod drifts out of a nearby unexplored nebula, onboard is a woman named Kalara who claims that her ship is stranded on a planet within the nebula and requests Starfleet’s help. The Enterprise is dispatched on a rescue mission, but almost as soon as they enter orbit their ship is bombarded by thousands of smaller ship which literally tear the Enterprise apart.

 

The crew abandon the doomed ship and whilst some are captured by the smaller ships, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, and Chekov make it safely to the surface whilst Uhura and Sulu are captured. The attack was lead by a creature named Krall who attacked the Enterprise because he wants the artefact that Kirk tried to give to the alien race in the opening sequence. Krall searches the wreckage of the Enterprise’s saucer that detached and crashed into the surface of the planet but is unable to find what he is looking for.

 

Meanwhile Scotty is found by a survivor Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) who tells her that Krall lured her ship to the same planet and attacked it in the same way as they did to the Enterprise. Krall is a powerful and cruel creature that is able to drain life-force from his victims in order to extend his own life. Dozens of ships have been lured to the planet and Jaylah’s home is an ancient Federation ship called the USS Franklin that crashed on the planet over a hundred years ago.

 

Kirk, Chekov and the rest of the escapees join forces with Jaylah as they attempt to rescue the captured survivors whilst uncovering why Krall wants the artefact so much, but the truth about who Krall is will shake the foundations of what the crew believe in…

 

Before I go any further I feel it is pretty important to point out that this film was written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, now whilst I have no idea who Doug Jung is, I know who Simon Pegg is, he’s the guy who plays Montgomery Scott, he’s the guy who voiced Buck in Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and is a man who is a self-proclaimed nerd. JJ Abrams is not in the director’s chair this time around as he was off not saving the Star Wars franchise with the tragic Force Awakens, directing responsibility has therefore fallen on the shoulders of Justin Lin, the man behind Fast & Furious Tokyo Drift, is he the man to direct a Star Trek movie??

 

Read on and I’ll tell you…

 

So in this adventure the crew are out in deep space so the resources of Earth and Starfleet are far from them, and in an obvious tipping its hat moment to The Original Series Kirk described their journey as becoming episodic. There is no back up this time around, well, not that there was back-up in Star Trek or Into Darkness, but hey-ho…

 

As you know I haven’t exactly been taken with Pine’s version of Kirk as he has been a bit of an arrogant dick in the previous two films, however, I liked him a lot more this time around because he has been somewhat humbled by the three years in deep space. He has become weary of the Enterprise’s mission and is looking towards commanding the space station Yorktown rather than staying out in the big black. He seems far more human that he has been in previous incarnations, so Pine is getting better at playing Kirk, and that is a good thing.

 

Sadly whilst Kirk is a big improvement on how he has been in the previous films, in this adventure the Enterprise gets fucked up…AGAIN…now I get that films have to have some drama in them but why the hell do the reboot Star Trek films think the only way to add to the drama is to fuck up the Enterprise???

 

Okay, in Star Trek the Enterprise is up against a ship a hundred years more advanced then itself, so fine, in Into Darkness the USS Vengeance is a warship that has been designed by the genetically engineered mind of Khan who has a full understanding of Starfleet technology, so it is designed to be more powerful than anything else in existence, that I can understand…but Krall’s ships are able to tear through the Enterprise like a hot knife through warm butter, and what annoys me is that the destruction of the ship is ultimately pretty pointless. The crew are able to get another ship in order to take the fight to Krall so why not simply have the crew being captured but leave the Enterprise in one piece?? This may be a small complaint but ask yourself, how many films did the original Enterprise survive before being destroyed?? That question is rhetorical because naturally I’m going to tell you…The original Enterprise survived The Motion Picture and was destroyed by Kirk in Star Trek III: Search for Spock, the Enterprise-A appeared briefly at the end of Star Trek IV: Voyage Home and was still kicking ass up until Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The Enterprise-D survived the entire Next Generation series but was destroyed in Generations (in a way that was really stupid but that explanation is for another day) and the Enterprise-E was seen in Star Trek: First Contact and was still going in Star Trek: Nemesis. I’m not saying the ship wasn’t damaged but at least it was able to hold its own against the enemies that were confronting it, the Enterprise-E even turned the tables in Starfleet’s battle against a Borg Cube in Star Trek: First Contact. Yet in the reboot films the Enterprise is always getting its ass kicked, it never looks like a formidable vessel, remember when I said in my Into Darkness review that Starfleet should rebuild the Vengeance, paint it silver and call in the Enterprise??? Yeah, this is why, because Krall’s ships might have had more trouble piercing the vessel’s hull if it had been as heavily reinforced as the Vengeance’s hull was. But here Krall’s ships rip through the Enterprise like it is coated in tissue paper.

 

The cast are all obviously comfortable in their roles and there are some great moments between Spock and McCoy when they are alone on the planet before reuniting with the others. Chekov is also given the chance to be more of an action man which is something that wasn’t seen in the original films.

 

On a sad note let me just that I was a fan of Anton Yelchin and his death was undoubtedly a tragedy. There are times when I find human mortality most convenient because it’ll make exterminating you all so much easier when my people arrive, but after being on this planet for over three decades there are times when I wish the human body was stronger. A young man taken in his prime is never right, and it is always upsetting. It has already been said that there will be a forth film in this reboot series but JJ Abrams has announced that they will not be recasting the role of Chekov, which is a decision that I fully support. Sadly there is nothing that can be done to return a human to life and whilst I may be an alien that has come to this planet to extinguish all life that doesn’t mean I won’t shed a tear or two for a few humans when that day finally comes…RIP Anton Yelchin.

 

Leonard Nimoy does not physically appear this time around as he had passed away before the film was made but his death is a significant plot point as it is the reason that Spock is planning on leaving Starfleet. His death is treated with the utmost respect and serves as a tribute to a great man who returned the role that made him a star in the previous film Star Trek Into Darkness.

 

You’ll have to forgive me, I know that talking about the deaths of two of the film’s cast is not going to be funny but I felt that it needed to be said, anyway, let’s crack on with the film review…

 

Despite coming from the mind of Simon Pegg and the other guy, the ideas in the film aren’t exactly original, I can point to so many of them and tell you exactly where they came from, and some of them have come from other sources within the Star Trek canon. In an episode of Star Trek Voyager called…[creatively]…The Swarm the crew of the USS Voyager came up against a species that attacked using a series of tiny ships to take on much bigger vessels, and that is precisely what happens here. Except in the episode the crew figured out the swarms’ weakness and used it to turn the tables of them, the crew of Voyager worked it out in a few minutes, it takes Kirk’s lot the entire film to work it out. Plus when they do, the ships in the swarm all start blowing up because their communications go down, the ships are not shown to be crashing into one another, they just start blowing up…not really sure why…they just do…

 

Other elements have been lifted from sources like Stargate Atlantis in which the main enemies were a species called the Wrath, that were able to sustain themselves pretty much indefinitely by draining the life force from their victims…sound familiar…ahem…Krall?? A trap that Jaylah utilises includes a gas that traps those caught in it in a solid amber-like substance just like a gas that featured in Fringe (which also starred Nimoy so it is possible that was a tribute of sorts to him). Perhaps these elements are deliberate homage’s to other sci-fi sources as Pegg is a self-proclaimed nerd so if they are then fair play to him, and if they are not, then maybe it is just a coincidence or the idea bucket ran low a lot sooner than he thought it would.

 

However, Beyond is really the first film to make a definite connection to the prequel series Star Trek Enterprise as the USS Franklin is from that era, and whilst it is not a surprise when Krall’s back-story is revealed it was fun to see one of those older ships on the big screen. It has to be said that Krall is not as interesting an enemy as Khan was, his true identity is so obvious they might as well have not bothered to try and keep it secret, but then it was going to be hard to follow an established villain with a completely new one so I don’t necessarily blame Idris Elba for this. But he could have been more interesting and perhaps not trying to disguise his true identity would have been the way to make him more interesting and sympathetic.

 

Considering Beyond is from the director of a Fast & Furious film there was always going to be some decent action, and the film does certainly deliver that. The action is fast paced, visually impressive, and whilst I wasn’t happy to see the Enterprise destroyed it was done in a really quite spectacular way with the engineering hull being sliced into shreds and the saucer being decapitated from the rest of the ship. Plus there was a good amount of tongue-in-cheek humour that kept the film from taking itself too seriously so that was also a point in the film’s favour.

 

I have been critical I know (and as a critic that is what I am supposed to be) but it has to be said that the film is still entertaining to watch, yes, there are some issues but on the whole it is still a good addition to this new canon. It links into the prequel series which is also quite interesting and some of the ideas are thought provoking, when someone ventures into the deep void of space, how long will it be before they begin to lose themselves?? “You can only gaze so long into the abyss before the abyss gazes back into you” – That was a paraphrased quote but from whom I can’t honestly remember, which makes a decent point about the nature of exploring something as vast as space.

 

Star Trek Beyond is getting a Thumbs Up because whilst it is not without its problems it is at the end of the day a decent film, the characters are all fun to watch (if a tad unoriginal) with enough action and tongue-in-cheek humour to appeal. Yes a more interesting villain would have been better and not destroying the Enterprise would have been better but neither of those factors damage the overall film too much.

 

 

7.5/10 – It has to be said that Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan was a more interesting enemy and hopefully the Enterprise can make it through the next film without being reduced to nothing more than debris but I doubt it. Star Trek Beyond is a good fun film that gives us a much less arrogant Kirk and that is defiantly something to praise it for.

 

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