Star Trek Beyond
First Aired :
So if the USS Franklin is the very first Warp 4 starship built by Humans, why does it have the registry number NX-326? Enterprise, the very first Warp 5 starship built by Humans, was the NX-01!
So why does Krall want to obtain the Abronath weapon before attacking Starbase Yorktown? To judge from the attack on the Enterprise his swarm of drone ships was perfectly capable of smashing their way into the base and smashing it to pieces. Yes it may take a while, but so what?
For that matter, Krall has been trapped on this planet for a hundred years or so... but how is that possible given that he has a huge fleet of interstellar drones? Why didn't he just fly back home in one of them in the first place?
Great Moment :
Spock opening Ambassador Spock's personal belongings and finding a photograph of the Enterprise bridge crew. A genuinely touching moment, as was his dialogue about how Spock had lived his life, which was so clearly about Leonard Nimoy as much as it was about Spock. We miss you, Leonard.
And following the theme, the dedication to both Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin in the closing credits. You went far too soon, Anton.
Body Count :
Many, many references to other Star Trek shows :
Kirk commenting that he ripped his shirt again, a reference to how often the original series Kirk shredded his uniform.
Kirk reports that this is the 966th day of their mission in his opening log. This is a reference to 1966, the year Star Trek first aired.
Kirk mentioning in his log that things are feeling "episodic".
The scene in which Kirk and McCoy are drinking on his birthday parallels the scene in Star Trek II.
They have a bottle of Saurian Brandy in this scene, which was mentioned in "The Man Trap" and other episodes.
The brandy was picked up on Thasus, which is the planet from "Charlie X".
McCoy toasts Kirk's "perfect eyesight", a reference to how he needed to wear glasses in Star Trek III.
Starbase Yorktown harks back to the original concept for the show, which was set on the USS Yorktown. Behind the scenes info also states that the original Enterprise-A was the USS Yorktown renamed.
Ambassador Spock dying is, of course, a reference to Leonard Nimoy's passing.
Krall is a former MACO, a military organisation from the Enterprise era.
Krall speaks of fighting the Xindi, who are an Enterprise-era set of bad guys. Interestingly, since the NX-01 Enterprise is the only ship known to have directly fought the Xindi, this suggests the possibility that Krall was one of the MACOs on Enterprise during season 3. Presumably, he would have been one we didn't happen to see onscreen.
Krall also fought the Romulans, which invokes the Earth-Romulan war that was mentioned in TOS, and which Enterprise had the backstory to.
In reference to the loss of the USS Franklin, Scotty suggests one explanation was that the ship might have been captured by a giant glowing green hand - a reference to the original series episode "Who Mourns for Adonis".
Kirk's toast "To absent friends" was given by the Prime Universe Kirk to his officers in Star Trek III. It was also given by Captain Picard in Star Trek Nemesis, and by Kor in the Deep Space Nine episode "Once More Unto the Breach".
Chekov's telling the lady at the party that scotch was invented in Russia is a reference to Chekov claiming that it was invented in Leningrad in "The Trouble With Tribbles".
As the Franklin smashes into Yorktown base, Scotty mentions the hull polarisation. The series Enterprise had Earth ships using hull polarisation since they didn't have shield technology.
Scotty also states that the ship had spatial torpedoes and pulse phased cannon. Both are weapons from Enterprise. Interestingly, the lack of photonic torpedoes would indicate that the Franklin had not been updated with this advance as the NX-01 had.
Scotty mentions how old ships were built in space rather than on the ground, a reference to the various times we've seen Starfleet ships being built in space throughout Star Trek - notably, in The Motion Picture. In fact, the Prime Universe apparently always built in space. The shift to ground construction appears to be unique to the Kelvin universe.
Kirk's approval of the Beastie Boys "Sabotage" refers back to it being the song he played on the stereo as he stole his stepdad's classic car in the 2009 Star Trek movie.
Calling the escape pods "Kelvin pods" is a reference to the loss of the USS Kelvin in the 2009 Star Trek movie. Presumably, the need to use shuttles to evacuate people in that movie led to these pods being designed and named for the ship.
Commodore Paris is, possibly, an ancestor of Tom Paris as seen in Star Trek : Voyager.
Kirk contemplating accepting a promotion and leaving the Enterprise is a reference to how the original Kirk did accept such a promotion - and always regretted it.
The Enterprise being destroyed is a reference to how the original Enterprise was destroyed - and in the third movie, too.
...and probably others I missed!
This is the first Star Trek movie that neither features a Klingon nor mentions them.
The young daughter of Lieutenant Sulu we see at Yorktown could be Demora, but if so she would be considerably older than the Demora in the Prime universe, who wasn't born until eight years later. Perhaps this might be Demora's older sister?
This is the second Star Trek movie which doesn't feature any scenes set on or around Earth. The first is Star Trek : Insurrection.
Sulu's partner was played by writer Doug Jung.
The green-skinned Orion lady we see amongst the Enterprise crew members is played by Fiona Vroom, who played the Orion woman Lolani in the Fan Fiction series Star Trek Continues.
A line in the script mentioned that Carol Marcus had left the Enterprise to work on the Genesis project, but it never made it into the finished movie.
The Enterprise is three years into their five year mission of exploration. Captain Kirk is making an effort to end a conflict between two alien species, carrying a gift from one to the other as a neutral representative. It does not go well, and he is forced to retreat to the Enterprise with the gift still in hand. Many of the crew are feeling worn out and tired - especially Captain Kirk, who is celebrating his birthday and feeling melancholy as he is now older than his father was when he died. The ship heads back Starbase Yorktown, the newest and most advanced Starbase in the Federation. Kirk informs Commodore Paris that he is applying for a promotion to Admiral as he is tired of being a Starship Captain. Meanwhile Sulu is reunited with his partner and their daughter, and Spock breaks up with Uhura as he wants to assist the Vulcans in rebuilding their race by having some Vulcan children. He is saddened to hear that Ambassador Spock, his alternate timeline self, has passed away.
A small alien ship arrives at Yorktown with an alien woman, Kalara, aboard. She says her crew have been stranded on a planet on the other side of a large nebula, and asks for help in rescuing them. The Enterprise is sent to the planet with Kalara, passing through the dangerous nebula safely. They find a massive swarm of ships in orbit of the planet which immediately attack and overwhelm the Enterprise, ripping the ship apart. Almost the entire crew is captured when the aliens board, intently searching for something - the gift Kirk had at the beginning of the film. He hides it and manages to escape, as do Spock, McCoy, and Scotty.
Kalara admits that she lured them there deliberately, saying that the alien leader, Krall, has her crew captive and threatened to kill them all unless she could bring Kirk and the Enterprise to the planet. Kirk apparently accepts this, and he and Chekov head to the crash-landed saucer section to retrieve the alien object and try and get a sensor working to locate their crew. When they arrive Kalara reveals that she is secretly working with Krall, having fabricated the entire story about her crew. She calls for help and some of his drones arrive. But Kirk suspected this betrayal, and in fact the alien object is not there at all - he was using the sensors to locate the crew by tracking her call for help. A battle ensues in which Kalara and the drones are killed and Kirk and Chekov escape.
Meanwhile Spock and McCoy, having collided with one of the alien ships on the way down in an escape pod, have managed to land safely - apart from a serious injury sustained by Spock. McCoy is able to treat him, and they make their way across the surface until they locate an abandoned cave. Inside they find writing similar to that on the alien object, and surmise that it likely came from this planet originally.
Scotty, having used a torpedo to get to the surface, meets Jaylah when she saves him from a couple of alien scavengers. She was captured by Krall year earlier, but managed to escape. A few others have done so over the years, and now try to survive by scavenging from wrecked ships on the planet. Jaylah lost her family when they were killed during their escape big, and despises Krall with a passion. She takes Scotty back to her 'house' - an abandoned Human starship, the USS Franklin, which has been mysteriously missing for over a hundred years. Apparently it fell through a wormhole and wound up crashing on the planet. Jaylah has been trying to get the Franklin into flyable condition, and many of the systems aboard do work to one degree or another. Scotty beams Spock and McCoy aboard, and shortly afterwards Kirk and Chekov set off a trap protecting Jaylah's home and are reunited with the others.
At Krall's base, Sulu and Uhura escape their cell and find Krall has captured some of the probes that Yorktown has sent into the nearby nebula. He's used their communications system to hack into the Yorktown database, which is how he knew Kirk had the alien object he wanted. They manage to send a distress call, but Krall captures them and reveals that it was all a trap - the distress signal has the wrong coordinates, and Yorktown will now send rescue ships there leaving the base defenceless against his attack. Krall threatens to kill Sulu if he is not given the object. He has the ability to drain life force from others, extending his own life at the cost of killing them and absorbing some of their appearance. A crewmember who has been hiding the object for Kirk surrenders it to him. Krall reveals the object is an ancient weapon created on the planet by a powerful civilisation which used to live there. It creates a black cloud which can consume life, destroying anything it touches. Krall demonstrates it by murdering an Enterprise crewmember.
Kirk comes up with a plan to raid Krall's base to distract the guards, using holographic technology to create multiple copies of himself riding around on a motorcycle he found on the Franklin. Meanwhile the others will use transporter beacons to allow Scotty to beam the crew out, twenty at a time. The plan works, and all of the Enterprise personnel are rescued. Jaylah finds the man who killed her parents and is able to push him off a building in the process of being beamed out with Kirk. Krall takes his swarm of ships to attack Starbase Yorktown, and Sulu manages to get the Franklin flying to pursue.
Yorktown fights against the swarm, but they are hopelessly outnumbered. However, Scotty suggests that the swarm must have some kind of signal controlling them. They are able to hack into that signal and jam it by broadcasting a powerful counter-signal of their own. They cause the swarm ships to explode in huge numbers, all but wiping it out. Krall survives, however, and manages to penetrate Yorktown's defences and board it with the alien weapon.
Uhura, watching a video of the Franklin's crew setting off, realises that Krall is in fact the former Captain of the USS Franklin. A human, Franklin has been a MACO during the battles against the Xindi and the Romulan war. He had been unhappy with the formation of the Federation, seeing unity as weakness rather than strength. He accepted command of the Franklin but when the ship was lost none of his distress calls were answered. He blamed the Federation for betraying and abandoning him, a grudge he bore for over a hundred years. On the planet he crashed on he found the leftover technology of an ancient and powerful race who had since departed, including the swarm ships and drones. He also found reference to the alien weapon, an object so powerful they threw it into space in hopes that it would never be found, and has been searching for it ever since.
Krall absorbs two Humans on Yorktown, returning his appearance to close to his original state, and makes his way to the centre of the station so he can release the weapon in the air circulation system to kill the millions of people on the base. Kirk chased him down and the two have a spectacular fight around the station's gravitational nexus, where the various gravity fields cancel out. Krall activates the device but Scotty is able to redirect the air system so it and he are ejected into space, killing Krall and saving the station.
In the aftermath Kirk is offered promotion to Admiral but turns it down, stating that he wants to continue exploring. Spock receives a case with Ambassador Spock's personal effects, and discovers a photograph of the Enterprise crew from the original timeline amongst them. Reflecting on Ambassador Spock's life and how much these people obviously meant to him, he decides to remain in Starlfeet and get back together with Uhura.
Over the following months we see a new Starship built, the NCC-1701-A. Kirk takes command and the crew fly off into the unknown in search of new adventures.
Overall, I really liked this!
I saw Star Trek : Beyond as as part of a marathon showing of all three Kelvin-timeline movies, so I had those previous two fresh in my memory for comparison. I still need to see it a few times, but right now I think I'd call it the best of the three, narrowly better than the 2009 movie.
On the plus side... the movie often looks amazing. there's just a ton of money up there on the screen. Starbase Yorktown looks spectacular, if a little bewildering. The thing is on the edge of explored space, and it's miles across - and not a few miles, but truly enormous. The largest structure in the Federation previously was Starbase 74, which was around ten miles tall, maybe. This thing looks like you could stick Starbase 74 inside it and rattle it around like a dice in a suitcase. Clearly, the Federation has the money and resources to build on an epic scale when it wants to (and in your face, to anybody who thinks that a society that can build Yorktown would struggle to build a ship bigger than 300m).
The odd architecture of the station is amazing, reminiscent of the likes of Inception with buildings at odd angles all over the place. But it makes sense, to me. Their gravity is artificial after all, and architects will always seek to build in whatever ways the materials and technology of the times allow. We don't build our steel and glass skyscrapers to look like mud huts from a thousand years ago, right? By the same logic, then, why would an architect of the future build his buildings all facing in the same direction if he didn't have to? The place looks like a light, airy, fun
place to be, and this is a tone architects do try to go for in buildings. So it makes sense, to me. And the idea of a "gravity nexus" where the gravity cancels out harks back to Enterprise, where the ship had a "sweet spot" where you could float around and sit on the ceiling. So it's a nice tie-in.
The money shows up in the Enterprise, too. We see a lot more of the interior of the ship, rather than the typical "the ship is just the bridge, engine room, and a few corridors" thing which sometimes goes on. The new warp effect looks cool, too. Yes, it's completely unlike anything we've seen before with warp. But warp effects have always been inconsistent. TOS had no warp effect at all other than streaking stars. The Motion Picture had all sorts of lightshows going on when the ship went to warp. That changes to a simple rainbow streak effect in later movies. TNG had the "rubber band and flash" effect. Star Trek 2009 had the "bullet from a gun" thing. And on, and on. To attack this for lacking consistency is nonsense, there IS no consistency. Personally I am taking the view that in universe, the visual effects of warp drive are just massively variable and depend one exactly how your warp drive is set up. Go into the engine room and tweak a few parameters, and you find that the warp field is now creating a milky tunnel all around your ship. Tweak a few more, that effect vanishes. Reprogram the warp entry sequence and find that the normally invisible plasma trail behind the ship now leaves a briefly visible trail. And so on. So which is right? They're ALL right! Plus, warp drives work by warping space, yes? And gravity warps space too. And the new effect kinda looks like the gravitational lensing effect you get around a black hole. To me, it seems logical.
It goes without saying, the swarm attack is absolutely amazing. We all knew the ship would be destroyed going in, and I was surprised that they'd let that out in the trailers. But as the film goes on, you understand that it's not the story of how they lost the Enterprise, as ST III was to some extent. Rather, it's the story of how they managed without the Enterprise. And in that context, it makes sense.
And the later stuff is just as impressive - the battle at Krall's camp, the battle at Yorktown, the fight with Krall. It's all good, visually impressive stuff.
We also get some interesting new aliens, even though most of them are only glimpsed and most of them are of the “big rubber head” variety. Reportedly there are no less than fifty new aliens in this movie, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Impressive stuff!
I will say on the downside, I sometimes found it too hard to follow what was going on. Poor lighting and poor camerawork, the bane of modern action movies!
I was tempted to think that Krall was getting awful lucky, when we see that he is after a weapon that just so happens to be on the ship coming to the planet - but no, of course, he had the whole thing planned out in advance. He's a smart villain, which is a good thing. And his motivations are reasonably logical and sensible. Nero was just a guy who went insane and wanted to lash out, somebody you could compare to a Post Office worker who cracks one day and goes up a high tower with a rifle. Khan had a clear motivation, but his motivation wasn't really anything to do with Kirk. Kirk was just in his way, or a tool to help him get at Admiral Marcus. Which doesn't make for a compelling conflict between him and Kirk! Indeed the point where that film goes off the rails a little in terms of plot logic is when they (apparently) give Khan his people back, and he declares that he is now going to kill Kirk. Um, why? Kirk has done very little to Khan thus far in this movie. The writers knew this, and that's why they toss in the line about how Khan's aim in the Eugenics wars was to exterminate everyone who wasn't a genetic superman. Only... no, that was never his aim before. He wanted to RULE normals, not genocide them.
Krall's motivations are also not that personal. He doesn't have an outright grudge against Kirk, but he does have a very real grudge against the Federation and Starfleet, both of which Kirk is a perfect representative for. So we understand what makes him tick and why he does what he does. It's not the greatest, but it does at least make sense.
I still think Chris Pine is doing an amazing job as Captain Kirk. We see a more mature Kirk here, still playing things by the seat of his pants when he thinks the situation calls for it, but also able to give a measured response to the situation when it calls for that instead. It’s telling that Jaylah is the one who wants to be the lone wolf here, and Kirk talks her out of it by stressing the advantages of working as part of a team - it echoes the kind of speeches Admiral Pike used to give Kirk himself, not so long ago. And seeing Kirk at a bit of a loss in his life is an interesting turn for him. McCoy is right, he really has spent all his time trying to be his father. Pike even used it to get him into Starfleet. Yes, he joined on a dare, but look at what the dare was - “Your father was captain of a Starship for twelve minutes. He saved eight hundred lives. Including you mother’s and yours. I dare you to do better.” I dare you, he said. I dare you to live up to your father. And by all sensible measures, Kirk has shown that he can be the man his father was, and more. But now he’s lived to be older than his father ever was, and a more successful Captain than his father ever was. The goal that he’s spent his entire life either running from or pursuing is achieved, done with, and over. And now he’s left with… what? It’s a sobering question. And by the end, Kirk comes to realise that his mission and his crew are an end in themselves, that living this life and having these adventures can be enough for him. I like it, it’s a very grown up character moment for him. If there is another movie, I very much hope we see a Kirk who has put aside childish things and fully become a man.
(Here’s an interesting idea. Give him a wife, and a kid he has to look out for. We’ve NEVER seen Kirk have those things before, not ever. Can you just imagine what might happen?)
Lots of fun character moments here, too. Some fun Spock and McCoy dialogue, showing both their surface sparring and the respect that underlies it. I read that Karl Urban almost didn't return for this movie, only being convinced to do so after he talked to the director personally. I don't blame him for that - the original movies often treated some of the characters as little more than extras, giving them lines that rarely rose above "Yes Captain!" and "Locking on!" So far the reboot movies have been better about that, and this is a good example. Chekov gets plenty to do helping Kirk against Kalara, Uhura gets to kick some ass - got to love Spock's bemused "Clearly, I am here to rescue you." after she beats up a couple of mooks and rescues him. Spock's reaction to Ambassador Spock's death is very touching, especially his finding the old photograph of the bridge crew. Scotty is comic relief as usual, but he's in there getting important stuff done throughout. And Sulu gets to fly the old USS Franklin, and of course gets to be gay.
On that... yes, it was done purely to be politically correct. But that's not a bad thing to me. People say that term as if being correct about things was in some way inherently wrong. The way I see it, political correctness is like anything else - it can be overdone, and that's bad, but it can also be lacking, and that's also bad. The trick is to have the right amount. They do not stop this movie and have a ten minute sermon about the loveliness of the gays. They don't preach it, they don't go on about it or even comment on it at all. You just see Sulu with his boyfriend and their daughter. "But it doesn't serve the story!" you say. Okay. So what? Some things aren't there to serve the story. Some things are there to be a backdrop to the story. Starfleet cadets wear red rather than blue. Why! It doesn't serve the story! What are they red for! Well, because they had to be some colour, and they went with red.
Some people have families; Sulu is one of them, and his family happens to be another dude and their daughter. Some families are like that, you know, just as some clothes happen to be red.
And of course there IS a broader point here, which is exactly that - that Sulu isn't "the gay character", but rather "the character that happened to be gay". No, it's never been mentioned before. Again, so what? Nobody has ever thought to mention that Scotty is straight before (assuming he is), but if they showed him with a wife in the next movie would you be yelling "Why is he straight! How does it serve the story!" That very complaint shows up the attitude that homosexuality is something that shouldn't normally be there, that it should only exist if it is important to the adventure of the day. But that's the very thing that the movie is seeking to avoid, because in the Star Trek world anybody might be gay. It's just not something worth commenting on.
Which is why I respectfully disagree with Mr Takei's complaints about this, and side with Simon Pegg's response - if they had introduced a new character to be gay, that would play into exactly that attitude that gayness is something strange and unusual, and that character would be forever viewed as "the gay character". By making it Sulu, they are saying this is the kind of world where you could know a person for years and then discover that he's gay, and it would be no more weird or unusual than if you found out he was straight. I think that's a point worth spending ten seconds of screen time on, myself. And especially in a franchise that has been bragging on its crew of "diverse nationalities" and the "first interracial kiss on television" (which it actually wasn't) for almost fifty years now, whilst studiously avoiding having any kind of gay character in it. So about damn time, in my opinion.
Okay. So... the not so good things.
The Franklin puzzles me. Its the first Warp 4 spaceship built by Humanity. So, we might expect it would predate the NX-01. Only it's called the NX-326. Huh? You would expect that either the first Warp 4 ship would be something that didn't use the NX registry system (would it be NW?), or that it would post-date the NX-01 and be the first Warp 6 ship. Not sure where the error lies here, but it seems like a bit of an odd mistake. If you're gonna homage, at least take a moment to get the basics of the homage right! They did give a date for it, which would be useful if I hadn't missed what date it was because I was thinking about this very thing. Will get it on the next viewing, I guess. I hope it will be pre-2151, because a simple oddity in the registration would be relatively easy to fix. "The NX-01 class were so revolutionary that they restarted the numbering system for them" would do it.
Krall’s motivations, whilst they do actually make sense as I mentioned above, are a little thin. His people made peace and joined an alliance he didn’t like, and he’s spent more than a century sulking over it? Bit weak.
Actually I think Jaylah is probably one of the missteps of the movie, which is odd considering how a lot of the publicity has gone on about how great she is. But think in terms of her contribution to the plot. Essentially, she is in this film to give the Starfleet guys the Franklin and info about Krall. But they could have just found the Franklin and repaired it themselves, and they could have learned about Krall from him telling Sulu about himself. With just a few minor tweaks, you could remove Jaylah from the movie completely and the story wouldn’t be much different for it.
The nebula was also a little silly. There’s precedent for this one, because nebulas in Trek have essentially never been depicted remotely close to scientifically accurate - hell, the Mutara nebula in Star Trek II had lightning
in it! But this one was basically fog with an asteroid belt in it - and the asteroid belt was too dense to be realistic, too! Could have been worse, but could have been better.
So really not many weaknesses at all, and plenty of strengths. Recommended!