Star Trek Beyond (2016): The Reboot Series Finally Captures Classic “Star Trek”

Star Trek Beyond

    “Star Trek Beyond,” is a film that best captures the spirit of the Star Trek Franchise than probably “The Undiscovered Country.” That film has a better story and is one of my all time favorite Star Trek Films but this film is still really good and I enjoyed it a lot more than “Star Trek Into Darkness,” which at the end of the day depended way too much on conspiracy and fan service rather than showing the spirit and cost of adventure the way this film does. Non-spoiler thoughts…this film has great action, comedy and characters and is well worth your time to see it on the big screen.

    “Star Trek Beyond” was directed by Justin Lin, written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung and produced by J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci and Bryan Burk.

     The story takes place 3 years into the 5 year mission and Kirk (Chris Pine) finds himself at a crossroads with the possibility of promotion and Spock (Zachary Quinto) is pulled back into Vulcan after a major death.  They and the crew are put to the test though when they are lead into a trap and must face Krall (Idris Elba) who destroys their ship, forcing them to adapt to the planet and keep him from getting the superweapon he seeks.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – This movie captures the wonder of the World of Star Trek. We get the Utopia of Yorktown, the horrors of war via Krall and tons of alien species and first contact opportunities.

Yorktown – Yorktown is a like a giant snowglobe in space and looks like how I always imagined a advanced space station actually looking (in the tv shows they never were able to capture it like it is on film, they are just stations, this is a city). I loved this area and I like that we spent time here to humanize our crew and see how the Federation has achieved Utopia.

The Writing – Minus the writing of Krall, the writing is a major pro. Every character is given things to do, characters change and aren’t just rehashing the same story (Kirk, Spock and Uhura had the same story twice in the last two reboot films). Simon Pegg being a Trekkie and one of the writers is one reason I think why this worked so much.

Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful and stunning and captures the old look of the show while modernizing it for the screen. It feels dreamlike and from it the adventure of this great series.

The Comedy – The comedy is gold, especially anything with Jaylah and Scotty and McCoy and Spock. The dialogue is quick and witty and always moves the action forward.

Use of Ensemble Cast – The cast all has things to do and it keeps the story strong! Uhura and Sulu are protecting the hostages and the device, Chekov is with Kirk, McCoy is Spock and Scotty is with Jaylah. Each of them are working to find one another and defeat Krall and it leads to great comedic and dramatic moments.

The Cast – The cast is the strongest part of this film, these actors have come to inhabit these characters.

Chekov – R. I. P. Anton Yelchin…you really inhabited this role. This is a film where Chekov is with Kirk for a lot of it and later teams up with Scotty since he knows tech. almost as well. We see him be the hero and the problem solver and his relationship with Kirk is pretty great. You’ll be missed Anton…

Sulu – John Cho is fantastic as Sulu and in this we get to meet his husband and daughter at Yorktown and from there see the reason why he is fighting so hard to defend it. In this he get to see him fly the Franklin, fight with the Enterprise until Krall’s drones destroy it. It is great seeing him and Uhura team up.

Uhura – Uhura is the primary protector of the hostages and the device that Krall is trying to get. She only loses when Krall threatens a crew member forcing the crewman to reveal her hand and where she’s kid the device. Uhura is ready to die to protect it though. We also see that her and Spock still have a great relationship even though they may or may not have broken up. Zoe Saldana is fantastic.

Scotty – Simon Pegg is really great in the role of Scotty and in this we see him as the major problem solver, whether it is fixing the Franklin, finding the crew and Krall or working with Jaylah on traps.

McCoy – Karl Urban really owns the role of McCoy and in this we get to see his friendship with Spock grow as they are stuck together for most of the film. It is great seeing their dynamic as McCoy’s cynical optimism is contrasted beautifully with Spock’s cold clear logic and duty driven decisions. This eventually leads to them taking on Krall by kidnapping one of the drone ships since Spock needs someone to monitor his injury he received when the Enterprise was destroyed and McCoy is the only one who knows about it.

Spock – Spock is faced with a decision in this…to stay with the crew or to return to Vulcan to help create more Vulcans. Ambassador Spock has died and no Vulcan is once more lacking limited leaders and there still aren’t very many of them. Over the course of the film he decides to stay for the crew though, not because of future Spock and I really like that. He discovers that it is out on the frontier he can protect Vulcan best and the realization that the entire crew is his family now and will be (he sees a picture of the crew when they are older that Ambassador Spock was keeping).

Kirk – Kirk like Spock is faced with a decision to stay or get a promotion and go as when we first meet him his life on the ship has become mundane and he expresses how trapped everyone feels out in space for so long. It is powerful as he is really talking about himself. Krall reminds him of why he is out there too and even though he loses the Enterprise he decides to stay to Captain and because the Captain of the newly built Enterprise-A we see being built at the end of the film.

Jaylah -Sofia Boutella is awesome as Jaylah and I hope she becomes part of the main crew. She is the one who helps them all team up as her home is Krall’s old Federation ship the Franklin. It is thanks to her and Scotty that they get it running and are able to use it as a base to free the hostages and to confront Krall and his drone forces. She also has a somewhat romantic thing with Scotty and is an orphan whose been fighting Krall all her life. Suffice to say she is awesome.

The Idea of Krall – The idea of Krall as a former Space Marine turned alien warlord is cool. Peace doesn’t work for everyone, especially those who gain honor from combat and live from it (one reason the Federation fights the Klingons every generation even after the treaties). There was so much more that could have been done with this idea if he had just been fleshed out more as a character.

Remembering the Dead – R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin. Both of them were given time to be remembered as Spock remembered Ambassador Spock and the final scene was fade to black with “For Anton” in memory of Anton Yelchin. The two of them were amazing and have left a legacy on this universe and the world.

Okay: Krall/Balthazar Edison – Idris Elba is good at humanizing this ex-marine turned alien Warlord and his acting is great, it is just the writing for Krall is only so-so so I’m putting him at okay. We never get explanations of why he turned into an alien or how using people turned him back into a person.

The Cons: Villain plan – The villain plan is to destroy Yorktown, which if Krall want the Federation at war, that isn’t going to help…since there is no way could escape, it was do the most damage and die…which I expected more from a man who had lived hundreds of years. He should have had a better plan.

How did Balthazar become Krall and Revert Back? – Balthazar was a M.A.C.O. (Pre-Federation Marine) who is maid captain after the Xindi and Romulan wars and finds himself abandoned on the planet. Something happens that causes him to become the alien Krall and he is using people to turn back into a person. This is never explained.

Pacing – The pacing can be a bit jarring at times. Sometimes everything is going too fast and we have no time to really soak in what our characters are going through, and other times we linger too long. This is most true at the beginning but by about a third of the way through the film this isn’t as much of an issue.

   The villain isn’t bad but he is where most of the holes in the plot are. Sometimes the pacing can be a little jarring, and I was bored at one point because of it…but the payoff when they arrive on Krall’s world is fantastic and almost everything after that works. This is a film that reminded me why I’m a Trekkie and I can’t wait to go back and review the other films so I can rate them all against one another. This a film well deserving of it’s place in the Franchise and some of the most fun I’ve had at the movies this summer.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

Sleepy Hollow – Season 2, Episode 1 – “This is War” – Coming Together Again and War’s Manipulations

This is War Sleepy Hollow

“Sleepy Hollow,” is one of the better television shows released in recent years. It takes the premise of the horror tale Sleepy Hollow and mixes with Biblical mythology (Demons, the Four Horsemen, etc.) while giving us the man out of time (Ichabod Crane) attempting to fight to prevent the apocalypse with his partner on the police force (Lt. Abbie Mills). Season 1 had amazing character development and exploration of the mythology which lead to “Sleepy Hollow” becoming one of my new favorite shows on television. I’ll do a review of Season 1, later…for now focus will be on Season 2.

“This is War,” was written by Mark Goffman and directed by Ken Olin.

Season 2 picked up where Season 1 ended with Ichabod buried alive, Abbie trapped in purgatory with the Demon who masterminded it all Moloch while Ichabod’s wife Katrina Crane is now prisoner of the Headless Horseman (the Horseman of Death), while War (Abraham, Ichabod’s son) is manipulating them to get the key to open Purgatory to let Moloch’s armies be released upon the world and start the Apocalypse. It is from here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Music – The music has a gothic, 17th Century feel to it intermixed with modern which fits the feel of the show. It also is good at going quiet when it needs to (like in Purgatory) to create tension and raise the stakes.

The Cinematography – Sleepy Hollow the town, and Purgatory are usually always dark and covered in mist creating a feel of the unknown about the place, which is perfect as we have a manipulated situation very early on in the episode showing that the characters and us need to be careful about believing what we see since it might be a lie.

The Characters – The Characters have always been the strongest part of the show, and that stays true in the Season 2 premiere.

Katrina Crane – Prisoner of the Headless Horseman who uses a necklace  he gave her in life when hew as Abraham to give the illusion of a head so he can communicate with her is powerful. He doesn’t love her since he doesn’t respect her love for Ichabod but it is complicated as you can see he has affection for her and she realizes that. She resists at first but in the end realizes just how trapped she is as the Horseman is undead.

The Headless Horseman / Horsemen of Death – We see how complicated and dangerous he is as he is more focused on getting Katrina than fulfilling Moloch’s wishes. I suspect that will cause problems for him later as he sold his soul to Moloch. Fascinated to see what they do with this character and his relationship to Katrina and to War.

Jeremy Crane / Horseman of War – Ichabod’s son who is also the Horseman of War manipulates Abbie and Ichabod to believe a year has passed and he’s a prisoner. He than gets them to reveal a key that Benjamin Franklin tried to destroy that can open Purgatory and that Jenny Mills knows where it is. He seeks her out and finds out where to find it. He nearly succeeds to but doesn’t due to Abbie and Ichabod managing to out maneuver him. The episode ends with him getting a gift from Moloch, a living embodiment of War, armor with a burning sword that he can control with his soul. Leaving his future plans to have more certainty for fulfilling Moloch’s will. He was the best reveal of last season and is still a much more interesting than Moloch. Love John Noble in this role.

Andy Brooks – John Cho’s character is once again seeking redemption as he uses what little of his free will he has to help Abbie contact Ichabod.

Jenny Mills – Is taken prisoner by War but manages to escape. Lyndie Greenwood is great in the role and we see her working with Ichabod to save her sister from Purgatory and stop War and his men from summoning Moloch’s army.

Abbie Mills – Abbie is top of her game in this episode as she finds out from Andy Brooks how to contact Ichabod which in turn leads to him finding her and them getting out of Purgatory, which destroyed the Key that Moloch and War were seeking. We have some great character moments too as she figures out the false Ichabod since he doesn’t say Left Tenant and instead says Lieutenant. It ends with her plotting with Ichabod and Jenny how to bring war to War and Moloch. Nicole Beharie is once again showing us why she she deserves this part and is one of the protagonists in television.

Ichabod Crane – We learn that he was mentored by Benjamin Franklin and despised him and we see him escape from being buried alive when he figures out he’s buried in sulfur and sets it off like a bomb to break out. After we see his loyalty to Abbie as he refuses to leave her in Purgatory as he and Jenny work to save her from Moloch. Tom Mison is once again great and it was wonderful seeing more of Ichabod’s backstory.

The Cons: No Captain Frank Irving – He turned himself in for the killings that the Headless Horseman did to protect his daughter, but we don’t see or hear from him. Given how great Orlando Jones is, I’d have preferred even a small scene with him and what he’s going through.

This was a solid episode and a great start to the new season. It makes me excited for what is to come…especially as I hope this season ends with the reveal of the next Horsemen and that we get 5 seasons so each Horsemen can be accurately explored…and maybe we can find Moloch is smaller compared to who is paying his checks. This show has so much it can do and I can’t wait to see what it does as it explores the mythology and universe that it is a part of.

Final Score: 9 / 10. Solidly great, just missing Orlando Jones.