Tag Archives: Spock

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

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Galaxy Quest (1999): A Comedy that Celebrates Sci. Fi. and Nerd Culture

Galaxy Quest poster

   “Galaxy Quest” is one of the greatest honoring of sci. fi. and nerd culture to come out of cinema. It works because it’s characters are mostly fully fleshed out and the situations are comedic without doing away with tension, and the main cast is a lot of fun. As someone who is a huge Trekkie you can see the inspiration drawn from “Star Trek” in the characters and situations the characters are in, as well as the sci. fi. convention where a lot of the story takes place. These are just some of the elements I really enjoyed about the film, I’ll get into more depth later.

    The film was directed by Dean Parisot and written by David Howard and Robert Gordon while being produced by Mark Johnson and Charles Newirth.

     The story is about a cast of a once famous sci. fi. television show called “Galaxy Quest.” They soon find themselves in over their head when Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) the Commander on the show makes a deal that they will help a group of aliens called the Thermians who are being hunted to an extinction by an evil alien warlord called Sarris.

The Pros: The Convention – The convention felt like many of the ones I’d been to as a child and do hope to visit again. There is an excitement and celebration of characters and story that make a great convention great. The ending entrance into the largest convention was awesome too.

Brandon – Is the convention goer who cosplays being a captain in the “Galaxy Quest” universe. He and his friends know the ins and outs of all the missions and episodes which leads to him helping the Commander through the situations he is under.

The Missions – Take place after the crew have been taken in by the Thermians. From getting another Sphere, to repairing the ship and using the mines in the minefield against Sarris. Most of the crew get to use their skills to their greatest ability.

The Thermians – The Thermians are a naive octopus like people who can give themselves the illusion of human form. They have

Mathesar – Mathesar is the Thermian leader and is a kind and good officer. He rises to the challenge and defends himself (his species is a peaceful one) showing how they’ve grown beyond that and can defend themselves when they need to.

The Crew – The crew is largely fantastic and has arcs that are greater than themselves. Alan Rickman (R.I.P.) as Dr. Lazarus is my favorite of them.

Guy Fleegman – Sam Rocwell is great as the character was a redshirt (side crew who dies on an away mission, there are many throughout “Star Trek” and other sci. fi. shows). Luckily he is able to subvert this trope and his awareness helps save them and he ends up becoming the security chief on the rebooted show. His story is awesome.

Tommy Webber / Lt. Laredo – Mitchell plays the Wesley Crusher wiz kid who didn’t get scarred by being on the show. He’s pretty down to Earth as a character and we see him get involved with helping where he can as well as learning how to actually fly the ship properly so that they can defeat Sarris.

Fred Kwan / Tech. St. Chen -Tony Shalhoub is awesome! He is the only character who is fine when meeting the Thermians and ends up hooking up with one of them. For him the strange is normal and it leads to some great interactions as he takes over as Engineer on the ship without a second thought while the rest of the crew is panicking and torn between their roles as actors versus those on the show.

Jason Nesmith / Commander Taggart – Nesmith is a Shatner type narcissist whose arc involves him getting pride in his work and not looking down on himself as well as appreciating his crew. He goes from only caring about being the star to knowing that they only survived because of the roles all his crewmembers played. Allen does alright.

Alexander Dane / Dr. Lazarus – Rickman does amazing as the actor who was into drama before his role as Dr. Lazarus ruined his career. His arc is making peace with the fact that people see him this way (as Nimoy had to do with Spock) and when he sees his famous quote bring hope to people fights for them and helps the Thermians rise up against their enemies. He mellows out a lot by the end too as before he is really wound up and anxious at the conventions and when he’s with the cast.

Celebrating Science Fiction – This film celebrates sci. fi. from beginning to end. From “Galaxy Quest” having a rich lore and people who celebrate it’s fandom…the the actual lore of the Thermians taking inspiration from the show.

Celebrating the Fans – The film also celebrates the fans. Brandon saves the crew with his friends as it is their knowledge of past episodes that helps them rescue the Thermians and stop Sarris. At the end Nesmith thanks them all as well and in the end they what they wanted…a rebooted “Galaxy Quest.”

Okay: Gwen DeMarco / Lt. Madison – She is sadly sidelined and her arc is her love story with Nesmith. On the show she just says what the computer says and is sexed up and it’s done even more-so in the reboot. This is an issue with television that could have been addressed but never is. Everything she does is in Nesmith’s shadow versus the other crewmembers who each get their own individual chance to shine.

Cons: Sarris – He’s a one-dimensional baddy who tortures for the sake of torture and doesn’t even seem to conquer since he only has one ship. This character had no motivations and even though he had a cool insect like design, that does not make a compelling villain.

    This is a solidly good comedy outing that pays tribute to science fiction while celebrating some of the best aspects of it and the passion that has come to surround the shows. It also is one of Alan Rickman’s greatest performances and my friends and I watched this show to honor him. This is a show that manages to work both as a comedy, a sci. fi. show and even on some level a drama with the only cons being the villain and how Sigourney Weaver’s character. Suffice to say, I highly recommend this film.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 16 – “The Time Trap” – To Work With and Outsmart One’s Enemy

ST TAS S 1 Ep 16 The Time Trap

     “The Time Trap” is a good episode that doesn’t change the antagonistic relationship between the Klingons and Federation, but still has them working together while they are working against each other at the same time. The world it has in the Trap is really cool too as it shows that being lost ins’t a complete loss giving our characters a little more of a choice. This was “Star Trek” done right.

     The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by Joyce Perry.

   The story involves the Enterprise and Kor and his Klingon ship getting trapped in a pocket dimension in the Delta Triangle. They must work together while dealing with the fact that they have limited power and are still bitter foes.

The Pros: Kirk – It is implied Kirk hooks up with the Orion council member (no surprise) but we also see that he never fully trusts the Klingons even though he supports the plan of them working together. He is an interesting character in this episode and we see how strong his attachment to his world is.

The Council – There is an Orion, Vulcan and a few other people who were ship captains and represent a council that enforces peace in their zone. They are smart too and offer an idyllic paradise for our trapped captains. They have also all given up so there is a hopelessness for that.

Spock – Spock does a good job in this episode and we see him show kindness in order to find out that the Klingons are hiding something and from it help prevent the Klingons from destroying the  Enterprise. 

Kor – Kor has to sate the bloodlust of his crew who doesn’t want to work with the Federation as well as safe face with his people who are waiting on the outside. To this end he endorses his second’s plan to explode the Enterprise when it reaches Warp 8. Since that doesn’t work he just takes responsibility for “saving” them when the most he did was follow Spock and Kirk’s plan.

This was a great episode that showed even extreme circumstances won’t always bring about peace between enemies. This was something you don’t see often in “Star Trek.” I’m glad they were comfortable doing that as it revealed the humanity of our factions and how no one is prefect and that the road to peace comes through more than just extreme circumstances.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 15 – “The Jihad” – Too Much Tell and not Show

Star Trek TAS S 1 E 16 The Jihad

     “The Jihad” had some interesting ideas, for example Spock and Kirk being on a secret mission with a bunch of other alien representatives to prevent a war is pretty cool. Sadly we get almost entirely tell and not show which makes it one of the worst episodes of the “Animated Series.”

    The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by Stephen Kandel.

      The story involves Kirk and Spock being chosen by a powerful and ancient species to recover a Skorr artifact of religious significance in order to prevent a Jihad on the galaxy as the Skorr were once a war like species and it was only their religious awakening that now keeps them in check. Kirk and Spock must work with other aliens to retrieve the artifact and prevent the war.

The Pros: The Alien Team – The idea behind the alien team is really cool, with Kirk and Lara as the human representatives who flirt with each other a few times while the others are more extreme in emotion or balanced. Tchar is the leader who betrays them in the end as he wants the war and to re-establish “greatness” in his people again.

Spock and Kirk – Spock is logical and sound and is always a pleasure and these two have great chemistry again that shows why slash fic exists, especially as Kirk is way more interested in the mission and Spock than her even though she is down with hooking up over the course of the mission on the dangerous planet.

The Cons: The Writing – The script is really bad. Everything is explained and  because we are told everything it makes the very bad animation all the more apparent. If the writing had been okay this would be an okay episode, but because it is terrible it makes the episode terrible. Doesn’t matter how good your actors or ideas are if the script can’t carry the episode.

  This is an episode I would not recommend at all, at it is a shame since there was so much potential here. We should have spent more times with the different aliens and gotten to know the Skorr more, instead we had a very poor execution of “Man vs Nature” and an obvious betrayal that never really made sense.

Final Score: 2 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 15 – “The Eye of the Beholder” – Obvious Message not Done Well

Eye of the Beholder Star Trek TAS Season 1 ep 15

   The idea of aliens seeing humans as animals is a cool idea but really hard to execute, and honestly the original “Planet of the Apes” did this idea so much better. I wasn’t sure who the aliens were in the end or why they thought humans and Vulcans were animals, they were supposed to be higher beings without it ever being demonstrated and that more than anything brought the story down.

The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by David P. Harmon.

The story involves the crew of the Enterprise seeking out Markel who had made a command decision that had got him and his crew trapped on an unknown planet. When the crew of the Enterprise arrives they are trapped and put into a zoo and must find a way to communicate with their captors or escape.

The Pros: The idea – The idea of aliens seeing humans as animals is a good one but the slugs are so boring we got know idea of their culture of society.

Okay: The Crew – Kirk tries to escape and the others talk to Markel but we don’t really get much. Scotty has a moment of the baby alien getting into his head and that is the extent of the interesting stuff, it was just that unmemorable.

The Cons: Execution – The zoo was poorly designed, the aliens culture was completely unknown and our crew  does nothing of significance. It’s just a bad episode.

The Message – Animals are just trying to communicate with us and are the same or could be the same as us someday. Not a bad message but very poorly done and if there is another message it was unclear to me.

This was not a good episode. Not much happens or is fleshed out and an interesting idea of first contact is completely wasted and goes cliche (they’ll be ready to meet us in 30 of their years). Was not a fan.

Final Score: 3 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 14 – “The Slaver Weapon” – A Political Situation

The Slaver Weapon Star Trek TAS Season 1 ep 14

   “The Slaver Weapon” is a lot of fun. The episode is okay but doesn’t seem to have any major focus beyond escape, which really brings it down. Plus the Kzinti have a lot of potential as an antagonist but we they weren’t fully explored as a threat.

    The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by Larry Niven and adapted from his story “The Thought Weapon.”

     The story involves Spock, Sulu’s and Uhura’s search for Slaver technology as we learn the things the Federation discovered lead to new discoveries in their own sciences. During the search for one of the Slaver Boxes they are kidnapped by antagonist Kzinti who wish to establish their old Empire that once existed.

The Pros: Uhura – Uhura gets captured a few times but at least she is always resisting the Kzinti. I wish she could have had a bigger role but she is still great here being a nice contrast to the sexism of the Kzinti.

Sulu – Sulu is a strong character and we see him do a great job against the Kzinti and the moment they go into his mind they revolt as he imagines eating vegetables which they hate. He has strong mental will and manages to escape with Spock when they successfully leave the ship.

Spock – Spock is the one who figures out the Slaver A.I. and lets the Kzinti make their own destruction as they try and control the A.I. which believes it’s still at war and destroys the Kzinti ship. This is his episode as his lack of foresight lead to them getting captured by the Kzinti in the first place and he takes responsibility for that.

The Kzinti – These guys have a cool design. They are a mixture of bat and cat and can read people’s minds (a lot of aliens in “Star Trek” can apparently). I wish we could have got to know them more though, they have so much potential as a threat and militarizing again.

Okay: The Slavers and the Weapon – The Slavers are a now extinct species that once ruled the Universe and look like a one-eyed reptilian species. We don’t know much about them but the weapons and the Slavers weren’t all that fleshed out (less so than the Kzinti) which was a major con…all we know is they were advanced technically, ruled the galaxy and are no longer around anymore.

The Cons: The Animation – This is a problem with the show in general but it is really bad here as the running is really blocky and the repeated shots are really obvious.

Uhura the Victim – She keeps getting captured and in the end needs to be rescued. So much for the future.

    This story had a lot of potential but just didn’t make it good. It was enjoyable to say the least but that doesn’t make a good story. Uhura was the victim way too much and the Kzinti just didn’t feel wholly alien, which was a shame. Still, there was a lot of good here.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 12 – “The Ambergris Element” – First Contact and Change

Kirk_and_Spock_mutated

     “The Ambergris Episode” was a fun first contact episode that actually worked! Kirk and Spock having gills was not something I expected to work given how “Voyager” handled things in “Threshold” but this one was different as it focused on how complex first contact is that within a culture or people there are differing points of view.

      The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by Margaret Armen.

     The episode involves the exploration of Argo where Kirk and Spock are attacked by a Sur-Snake leading them to be transformed into aquatic species by the younger generation of Aquans. When they attempt to reach the Elders they are left to die on the surface until one of the Council leaves to rescue them and Kirk and Spock seek a cure of their state and find out the history of the Aquans.

The Pros: The Aquans – The Aquans are fascinating! You have the Elders who fear surface dwellers because they were once them and fear the destruction that occurred and the younger generation who wants to change and are the biggest advocate for first contact. Eventually contact with the outside world is made after Kirk and Spock cure their state using Sur-Snake venom and the Elders stay below as the younger generation comes into the new galaxy.

Kirk – Kirk is the one always seeking contact with the natives and even after they are left to die still does diplomacy. This one really shows how driven he is to seeking peaceful solutions, even when wronged.

Spock – Spock is the one who helps them find the cure and shows how rough the reality is as if Kirk and Spock stayed in a tank their roles would be limited in what they could accomplish.

Raising the Fallen Continents – The Enterprise changes it’s phasers and sets them in such a way to raise the continents. It is really cool and shows how they are a force for change (for better and for worse) and help the Aquans become a part of the great galaxy.

Okay: The Sur-Snake – Okay enemy, but looked kind of stupid at times.

The Cons: Execution – The story could have been done better if we could have seen more of the point of view of the younger generation. This lack of perspective was the only thing that brought the episode down besides the main crew not being allowed to do much.

  This was an episode worth checking out, not a favorite but it is solidly good. It explores the complexity of first contact and manages to turn a strange idea into it’s favor while giving a fascinating society in the process!

Final Score: 8.3 / 10