Saturday, 10 December 2016

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

The voyages of the starship Enterprise in this rebooted, alternate timeline continue. Three years into its five year mission the crew reach Yorktown space station, a large fancy looking hub with a stupid name. James T. Kirk grows tired of life in space, Spock has split with Uhura, Sulu has reunited with his family and is apparently gay now, Spock Prime has died and Scotty just continues to fix stuff. Its a veritable soap opera in space and we're no closer to seeing any whales it seems.

So what should happen next? why a rescue mission of course (stupid question). A ship (the USS Franklin) is supposedly crashed and stranded on a planet (Altamid) which is inside a nebula, according to a lone survivor in a drifting escape pod. So like the good little bunch of humanitarians they are the crew blast off into said nebula to assist. Not long after entering the nebula the crew find they are unable to stay in contact with Yorktown, communications down, hmmm smells like a tra...oh. Yep before you can quote a Rebel Admiral from another sci-fi fantasy flick the Enterprise comes under attack from a vast swam of small ships. These ships are able to completely destroy the Enterprise, but not before the crew can escape to the planet below and we meet the antagonist Krall (Idris Elba). Long story short, Krall is after a mcguffin which is part of a super weapon that can kill people very easily. Oh and he wants to wipe out Yorktown with it, bet you didn't see that coming huh.

This movie really started off badly in my opinion. The opening mini plot with Kirk off on a diplomatic mission to offer the mcguffin to this alien race was, for all intense and purposes, crap. The whole sequence looked crap, the CGI aliens were crap, Pine's acting against the CGI aliens was crap, it wasn't funny even though it was really trying to be, and in general it just looked like something from a mock Star Trek picture (like 'Galaxy Quest'). Then as we progress further, the initial trap and space battle that sees the Enterprise torn apart was also pretty ropy looking in my opinion. When I say ropy I mean it just looked like a messy cluster of CGI nonsense. Hundreds of tiny CGI spaceships zooming around in large CGI swarms like little flies or tiny birds, laser blasts everywhere, everything moving quicker than you can comprehend...ugh! Basically its hard to make out what's going on because so much was happening on the screen, and it all looked CGI.

The planet that the crew find themselves stuck on for a large portion of the movie just happens to be a lush, green, Endor-like world with a breathable atmosphere. Also, Kirk and co just happen to come across a sexy female alien with alluring body art, oh and she just happens to be an expert in martial arts, weapons and has converted the USS Franklin into her home. Said Starfleet ship also just happens to be the same ship that houses all the secrets to Krall and his followers, and it just so happens to have a motorbike on board too. Gee I'll bet my bottom Dollar that will come in handy at some point...probably for an action sequence of some kind? eh! oh yes. I did find myself wondering just what the hell would a motorbike be doing on a spaceship...I really should know better by now.

Yeah so the bad guy is after the mcguffin weapon thingy which he thinks Kirk has, but Kirk and co are just trying to get off the planet. Krall then finds the mcguffin, explains what its all about to Kirk and co, as you do, and carries on explaining how he's gonna wipe out Yorktown. So now Kirk and co are involved in trying to stop Krall with the help of Jaylah the sexy alien with alluring body art. This obviously leads to a battle between the Starfleet crew and Krall's endless supply of henchmen. Expect lots of laser blasts, leaping around, many moments of deus ex machina, fast quips, boring martial arts and of course...that motorbike.

So anyway eventually the crew manage to escape off Altamid by fixing the USS Franklin, they set off after Krall who's now gone off to destroy Yorktown. We do see a lot of Krall's henchmen on the planet admittedly, but not as many as is indicated by the amount of ships he has at his disposal. Like seriously there must be thousands upon thousands of these tiny ships that make up this swarm. Where the hell did all the pilots come from to fly these ships? Why didn't we see this army on the planet surface? Where did they park all those ships on the planet? How has no one come across this small army until this point?? Secondly, where did Krall get all these ships? How come they are able to penetrate and virtually fly through solid metal?? What on earth are these things made out of?? Its also at this point that the franchise kinda sinks for me. Why? because they use a contemporary rock song to accompany an action sequence in space. Yes its actually a part of the plot but still, for me that is not something you do in a Star Trek movie. I blame this on the director Justin Lin, yeah you can do that all you want in trash like The Fast and Furious franchise, but not in Star Trek thank you.

Well to answer some of those points, as we discover Krall is actually a former pre-Federation soldier and captain (Balthazar Edison) of the USS Franklin on this Endor-like planet. This guy became upset when the Federation was formed because humans essentially made peace with alien enemies and put him out of work. He and his crew were also unlucky enough to get stranded on said planet (through a rogue wormhole apparently) and believed the Federation had abandoned them. Although I'm still not too sure how they were not found up until this point considering the technology and time span we're talking here. This all happened back in the year 2164 I believe, the ship and crew only being discovered in the present Star Trek year of 2263. With this movie being set in the alternate timeline, this would be the alternate series of events for the USS Franklin. Although this ship is new to the franchise I believe so technically it had no original series of events, if you wanna be really picky.

Moving on, Edison and his crew managed to stay alive all this time by utilising the extinct native alien technology that was left behind on the planet. How they worked out how to use this extinct alien technology is anyone's guess. How they even got it to work is another guess because surely an extinct alien races technology might be low on batteries. For some reason said technology gave the crew life but also turned them into powerful mutants? Oh and it also gave Balthazar the power to drain another living organisms life force? Oh and all those henchmen are actually alien drones that he managed to get going and utilise for his indestructible swarm (I guess the ships were the extinct alien races tech too). And why exactly did he change his name to Krall? Because it just sounded like a cool alien name or what? What's the deal with that?

Yes there are lots of amazing factors here, it always takes me time to get my head around these Trekkie plots (especially with the alternate timeline and new additions) but are you even surprised? The timeline in general for this franchise is so bloody convoluted its unreal. I feel like I need to do major research into Trek lore just to understand the basics in these plots because there's so much backstory. Yet despite that aspect, Star Trek has well and truly become an action franchise these days and alas this third movie merely continues that trend. The plot wasn't the labyrinth of time travel the original 2009 reboot was admittedly, but once again it just feels like an extended TV episode. The villain is a bog standard bloke, doesn't really look very unique, usual goals, played poorly by Elba (alien race with cockney accent huh). The crew do their usual thing, the action scenes were bland, bog standard henchmen types, lots of stupid looking brightly coloured aliens, stupid body markings, crappy CGI swarms of spaceships etc...I just didn't feel it with this, the whole thing just felt tired, a paint-by-numbers job. The original 2009 reboot felt fresh and exciting (despite the horrendous time travelling/alternate timeline nonsense), but how quickly that has faded away. I'm starting to think the franchise is really running on empty now.