Thursday, August 4, 2016

It Came From The Cineplex: Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond (aka Star Trek 13) was written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, and directed by Justin Lin.

Pegg is a prolific actor and screenwriter who frequently collaborates with Edgar Wright. He and Wright co-created the British series Spaced, and co-wrote Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End. He also co-wrote Paul with Nick Frost.

Jung previously wrote a couple episodes of the TV series Big Love, and several of Dark Blue, whatever that is.

Lin previously directed Better Luck Tomorrow, and then began his Fast & Furious phase, directing The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast 5 and Fast & Furious 6, which of course makes him the perfect choice to helm a Star Trek film.

I had very, very low expectations for this film, especially after the execrable Star Trek Into Darkness. Imagine my surprise when I found myself actually liking it. Star Trek Beyond comes very close to replicating the feel of the Original Series (more than some of the films starring Shatner and Nimoy!). Maybe going in with low expectations helped.

In fact this movie seems to ignore the events of Into Darkness altogether. There's no mention of its events whatsoever, and Dr. Carol Marcus— who seemingly joined the crew at the end of that film— is nowhere to be seen. I'm fine with this! I hated Into Darkness so much I decided to pretend it never happened, so it's nice to see the franchise do the same.

Even though I enjoyed Star Trek Beyond overall, it's far from perfect. The villain is underdeveloped with yet another murky revenge motivation, and— big surprise— he turns out to be the latest in a series of rogue Starfleet officers. There are plot holes wide enough to fly a starship through, and I'll be damned if they don't play Sabotage again on the soundtrack. But warts and all, it's still probably the best of the rebooted series (which I admit is damning it with very faint praise). 

JJ Abrams directed 2009's Star Trek and 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness, but stepped down for the third so he could go destroy the Star Wars franchise. His partner in cinematic crime, producer Roberto Orci, was then for some insane reason tapped as writer and director. Fortunately cooler heads prevailed, Orci was relieved of directorial duties by the studio, and the world let out a sigh of relief. 

Paramount worried that Orci's script "might have been a little bit too Star Trek-y," whatever the hell that means. Because of course whenever you're dealing with a beloved franchise, you don't want your movie to resemble the property in any form. The studio then approached actor Simon Pegg to rewrite the script and make it "more inclusive" to non-fans. 

Pegg did a surprisingly decent job here, proving that if nothing else he understands these characters better than his predecessors ever will. Well, for the most part.

Despite the fact that Abrams and Orci are listed as producers only, the film still has their greasy fingerprints all over it. Especially with the highly inappropriate hiphop music and the fact that it features yet another goddamned spaceship bursting out of water.

Shortly before the film was released, Simon Pegg generated a minor controversy when he announced that the character of Sulu would be written as gay, complete with a husband and child. Pegg claims this was done as a tribute to original Sulu actor George Takei, who— you may want to sit down for this, as it's a big shock— is gay in real life. Takei didn't take kindly to the honor, saying it was never Gene Roddenberry's intention, as Sulu was always written and played as straight. I don't know which side's right, but if I had to choose, I'd side with Takei here. He's been playing the character for fifty years now, so who else would know him better? If I was a bit more cynical I'd think this whole tempest in a teapot was stirred up just to generate some free publicity for the film.

Sadly, tragedy struck the cast twice before the film premiered, as Leonard Nimoy passed away in February of 2015, and actor Anton Yeltsin was killed in a freak accident just a month or so before the movie was released.

So far in this rebooted series, the second film featured Khan, while this third one featured the destruction of the ship. If the pattern holds, I fully expect the fourth film to feature time travel and/or whales.

Sadly, Star Trek Beyond has underperformed at the box office, earning around $160 million worldwide against its $185 million budget. Movies typically have to gross at least twice their budget these days just to break even, so it's going to have an uphill climb before it shows a profit. That's unfortunate, as it's not a bad movie. I'm wondering if the stench of Star Trek Into Darkness is still lingering in cineplexes, scaring off potential audiences?


The Plot:
As the film opens, Captain Kirk (played by Chris Pine) mediates a treaty between the Teenaxi and the Fenopians. How exciting! What next, negotiating trade route disputes? The Fenopians offer an ancient artifact called the Argonath, er I mean Abronath to the Teenaxi, but they refuse it. The negotiations devolve into a brawl, and Kirk barely escapes with his life. Spock (played by Zachary Quinto) places the Abronath in the Enterprise's storage closet.

Kirk makes a log entry, noting the ship is almost three years into its historic five year mission. Somehow the intrepid captain has become bored with space exploration (!). He tells Dr. McCoy (played by Karl Urban) he's now a year older than his father was when he was killed, and needs a change of scenery to figure out who he is (oy). Apparently in this new timeline, Kirk's decided to have his mid-life crisis several decades early.

The ship visits Starbase Yorktown to replenish their supplies. Spock is approached by two Vulcan elders, who give him some bad news. Ambassador Spock, his older self from the original timeline, has died. Wow, finding out you're dead must be quite the bummer.

Spock is as devastated by this news as a Vulcan can be. He decides to leave Starfleet and continue Old Spock's work on New Vulcan. Unfortunately this means he'll be breaking up with Uhura (played by Queen Of The Sci-Fi Franchises, Zoe Saldana). Kirk meets with Commodore Paris (Voyager reference!) to request a Vice Admiral position, like he's applying for a job at McDonald's. He recommends Spock take over as captain of the Enterprise.

Yorktown receives a distress call and picks up an alien named Kalara, who claims her ship crashed on the planet Altoid, er, I mean Altamid, which is inside a nearby nebula. She somehow managed to escape and now wants help rescuing her stranded crew. If you don't immediately realize her story sounds suspicious, then you've never seen a movie before.

Kirk volunteers for the rescue mission, and takes the Enterprise through the dangerous and unpredictable nebula, which looks a lot like an asteroid belt to me. The ship finally breaks through the cloud and approaches the planet. Suddenly a massive swarm of small drones appears and attacks. The Enterprise fires all weapons, but there are simply too many targets. The bee-like ships easily penetrate the Enterprise's shields, slicing off the engine nacelles (!), leaving it unable to flee.

An alien named Krall (played by an unrecognizable Idris Elba) boards what's left of the ship, looking for the Abronath, which he claims is a powerful bio-weapon. Kirk overhears this and hides the artifact. Seeing there's no hope left for the floundering Enterprise, he reluctantly orders the crew to abandon ship. Krall is forced to leave the ship empty-handed and return to the planet.

The crew blast off in their escape pods, but are immediately intercepted by the drones and taken to an unknown location. Kirk, Chekov (played by the late Anton Yelchin) and Kalara are the last to leave. As Kirk evacuates in his pod, he watches his wounded ship crash to the surface of Altamid.

Scotty (played by Simon Pegg) manages to avoid the drones and crash on the planet in his escape pod. He's immediately surrounded by a group of savage aliens. He's rescued by Jaylah (played by Sofia Boutella), an alien who's also stranded on Altamid. When she discovers he's an engineer, she offers to help him find his crew if he helps her fix her "home." Scotty agrees, and finds that she lives in an old and presumed destroyed Federation starship, the USS Franklin. Well that was certainly convenient! 

Spock and McCoy also crash land on Altamid. Spock is seriously injured, and McCoy treats his wound as best he can. Spock tells McCoy he's planning on leaving Starfleet to carry on Old Spock's work. So Kirk wants Spock to become captain, but Spock plans on leaving the fleet. It's a wacky misunderstanding just like The Gift Of The Magi, but in space!

Kirk, Chekov and Kalara land on Altamid. Kirk accuses her of leading them into a trap. She says she was working with Krall, but only to save her stranded crew. She's then killed in a big overblown action setpiece involving the wrecked saucer section of the Enterprise.

Krall imprisons the surviving Enterprise crew, including Uhura and Sulu (played by John Cho). Krall demonstrates how he can drain the life force of others to rejuvenate himself, which transforms his physical appearance as well. He demands the crew tell him where the Abronath is hidden, but they refuse to tell him. When he threatens to kill Sulu, an alien crew member reveals that Kirk hid it inside her head (!). She hands the Abronath over to him and he activates it, releasing a spiky black cloud that kills her. Krall announces he plans to use the Abronath against the Federation, which he feels has somehow wronged him.

Kirk and Chekov run into Scotty and Jaylah on the Franklin. They hatch a plan to rescue the crew and escape the planet. Kirk finds an old motorcycle on the ship (?) and uses it to cause a diversion, while Scotty beams the crew onto the Franklin, twenty at a time. The plan works, and Kirk and Jaylah are the last two to be beamed onboard.

Krall and his army of drones leave Altamid and head toward Starbase Yorktown. He intends to destroy the base for starters, then sweep through the galaxy targeting Federation planets and outposts.

Kirk and Co. manage to get the Franklin up and running, and chase after Krall. Spock reasons that the drones are controlled by a single signal. If they could send out a more powerful jamming signal, the drones would crash into one another and be destroyed. Scotty rigs up an old fashioned radio antenna and broadcasts Sabotage by The Beastie Boys. Yup, that really happens. The drones are disrupted and destroyed.

Krall's ship survives, and breaks into Starbase Yorktown. The Franklin follows, and fires on his ship, causing it to crash into a fountain. Kirk and Uhura check Krall's ship to make sure he's dead, but find two bodies drained of their life force. Uhura decides this is the best time to look over old video logs on Krall's ship. They discover Krall isn't an alien after all, but Balthazar Edison, the human captain of the Franklin.

Kirk scans Edison's log entries and discovers that Edision became angry and unhinged after crashing on Altamid, believing the the Federation "abandoned" him and his crew. He discovered an alien technology that allowed him to absorb the life force of others, keeping him alive all these years. He also discovered the aliens' robotic mining drones, repurposing them as a weapon.

Krall, who now looks more or less human after absorbing some more life forces, climbs to the top of Yorktown's life support tower, intending to unleash the Abronath there and destroy the starbase. Kirk chases after him and tries to talk him down. Krall activates the Abronath and releases the deadly black cloud. Kirk pushes Krall into the cloud, which begins enveloping him. Kirk opens the airlock and Krall is sucked into space, where he's consumed by the Abronath.  

With the crisis over, Commodore Paris offers Kirk his Vice Admiral position, but he decides to be a captain for a couple more films. Meanwhile Spock goes through Old Spock's belongings and finds a photo of the original crew. He decides to stay in Starfleet, and makes up with Uhura. Jaylah is somehow accepted into Starfleet Academy.

The crew celebrates Kirk's birthday, as they watch the new Enterprise being built.

• After two movies filled with setup and wheel spinning, 
the crew FINALLY embarks on their five year mission. And then the goddamned ship gets destroyed. Again. Sigh...

Of course we're only told, not shown, that they're in the middle of the five year mission. Gosh, wouldn't it have been nice to have seen some of their previous adventures? Sure, the crew's 2.5 years into the mission, but from the audience standpoint this is technically the first one we've seen.

• This was an abnormally dark looking movie. I don't know if it was just the sub par equipment in my local theater (which is a good bet) or the way it was filmed, but there were times when I could barely see what was happening.

• This is some extreme nitpicking, but I am not a fan of the titles of this rebooted series. Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond... it's like they're all sentences about moving, using "trek" as a verb. I look forward to the next film, Star Trek Down The Road.

• I really liked the way the Universal Translator was depicted in this film. The Enterprise crew fits Kalara with one, and she actually speaks an alien language as the UT broadcasts what she's saying in English (or I guess Federation Standard). It was a cool touch, and a good way around the perpetual "How come the crew understands every alien they encounter?" question.

Note that we never see the reverse happen though— we never see Kalara hearing Kirk's dialogue in her native language. Maybe she's hearing him through a hidden earpiece?

As fun as it was to finally see the UT in action, I should point out that Dune did something similar way back in 1984.

• Any time there's a closeup of the Enterprise, you can see various crew members walking past the windows. It really does help give the massive ship a badly needed sense of scale. Well done!

• At the beginning of the film, Kirk states in his log entry that he's bored with the mission because it's become routine and "episodic."

This was my biggest problem with the entire film. Captain Kirk bored with space travel? Kirk? The guy who gave up being an admiral in The Wrath Of Khan so he could get back out there and explore the universe is now bored? Bulls*t! That's definitely not the Kirk I've been watching for the past fifty years.

• Oddly enough Kirk seeks to cure his boredom by applying for a Vice Admiral position.

First of all, I'm pretty sure Vice Admiral is a promotional position, not a job one applies for. I guess it's possible that Starfleet's rules are different than our modern Navy's, but still

Secondly, Vice Admiral sounds like a lot like an administrative position. Something that involves sitting behind a desk all day. So how's that going to alleviate Kirk's boredom?

Pegg definitely needed to take another pass at polishing this particular little subplot.

• In Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, Shatner-Kirk's birthday causes him to have a mid-life crisis. He tells McCoy that he feels old, useless and worn out. I guess we're going with that subplot again, as Pine-Kirk's birthday makes him realize he's now older than his father was when he died.

Trouble is, Shatner-Kirk actually was middle-aged (and how!) when he went through his little crisis. Pine-Kirk looks to be thirty years old at the most.

• As the Enterprise docks at Yorktown Station, two Vulcans dignitaries meet with Spock. They tell him that Ambassador Spock— his older self from the original timeline— has died.

Spock looks at an iPad that displays Old Spock's obituary, which contains some puzzling dates. According to the obit, Spock was born on Stardate 2230 and died in 2263. I'm assuming that Stardates are the same as years here, since the film takes place in 2263. That means Old Spock was just thirty three when he died. Obviously there's no way that's right.

According to various online websites, Old Spock was born in 2230 in the original timeline. In 2387, he time traveled back to 2258 in the new Abramsverse timeline. He then lived in this new timeline until he died in 2263. So chronologically he was 162, but he died just thirty three years after he was born. Convoluted!

It makes sense when you chart it all out, but there had to be a way to make this less confusing for the audience.

• Co-writer Doug Jung plays Sulu's husband Ben in the film. The couple has a young daughter, who I guess we've technically seen before. In Star Trek: Generations, we were introduced to Demora Sulu, the helmsman (helmswoman?) of the Enterprise B.

• I really liked Jaylah, the white-skinned alien played by Sofia Boutella in the film. Boutella was also the blade-legged Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service. The Gazelle character mostly stood around and looked menacing, barely saying a word, so it was nice to finally see Boutella get to act a bit.

For the record, Boutella isn't really a double amputee like her Kingsman character.

• In the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Star Trek Into Darkness, the filmmakers obviously had no understanding of the Spock character, and consistently played him for laughs. I remember how the audience around me roared with laughter virtually every time he opened his mouth. "Oh, that Spock! Because he's a Vulcan he took the phrase 'wild goose chase' literally! He's so clueless!" 

Using Spock as comedy relief is a very slippery slope. Do it too often, and you run the very real risk of turning him into a laughing stock. 

Fortunately Simon Pegg seems to agree with me, and the Spock humor is toned way, way down in Star Trek Beyond.

• We're told that Altamid is surrounded by a dangerous, impenetrable nebula, which effectively shuts it off from the rest of the galaxy. 

When the Enterprise risks entering this so called nebula, we see it's filled with thousands of gigantic rocks tumbling through space that constantly smash into one another. Um… that seems a lot more like an asteroid field to me. A nebula is just a giant cloud of gas and/or dust.

Looks like someone needs a dictionary!

Plus it's very dark inside the "nebula" that surrounds Altamid. Yet once the crew lands on the planet, the sun's shining brightly in the sky. Whoops!

• The "drone swarm" was a pretty cool idea for a weapon of mass destruction. It's one thing for the Enterprise to target a Klingon Bird Of Prey, but how do you target a million tiny ships?

• When the swarm attacks the Enterprise, it slices the engine nacelles from the ship, leaving it paralyzed. The swarm then cuts the saucer from the secondary hull, leaving just a little bit of the "neck" attached. 

Sulu tells Kirk he might be able to maneuver on impulse power, but he can't do so unless they perform a saucer separation. Um… isn't that pretty much what's already happened? The saucer's pretty much been separated from the rest of the ship at this point. Eventually the saucer jettisons the tattered "neck," and the impulse engines are able to start up. 

It would have been a lot less confusing if they'd just separated the saucer section while the ship was still intact.

• When the Enterprise was destroyed way back in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, it was a real punch to the gut. The ship was as much a part of the show as the main cast, and  its demise felt like watching a beloved character die.

The Enterprise (or at least a version of it) was destroyed again ten years later in Star Trek: Generations. Its death was nowhere near as affecting as the first.

And now we're blowing up the ship for a third time. This time all it elicited from me was a half-hearted "meh." Either I'm no longer human, or this trick has lost its effectiveness. You can only destroy the ship so many times before the audience stops caring and shrugs.

• As the crippled Enterprise plummets toward Altamid, Scotty jumps in an escape pod and blasts off. His pod crashes on the surface and teeters precariously on the edge of a sheer cliff. Scotty manages to leap out of the pod a split second before it plummets to the rocks far below.

The exact same thing happens in Furious 7, the most recent entry in the Fast & Furious franchise. Paul Walker's character is on a bus teetering on the edge of a precipice, and he manages to run along its side and leap off a second before it goes over the cliff.

As I mentioned before, Justin Lin directed four of the F&F films, but he didn't direct Furious 7. It must have had a profound effect on him though, because he recreated that cliff scene here in precise detail. It's practically a shot for shot duplication. 

• After Scotty meets up with Jaylah, she shows him her "house," which is really the wreckage of the USS Franklin, an early Federation starship. Jaylah uses a cobbled together holographic generator to hide the ship and render it invisible.

The implication here is that she's hiding the ship from Krall, who would probably love nothing more than to get his hands on a starship. This makes perfect sense when we first meet Krall, as we assume he's just an evil alien warlord.

But in the third act we find out that Krall is actually Balthazar Edison, the CAPTAIN of the Franklin! He was onboard the Franklin when it crashed, so he should remember exactly where it's parked! So there's no point in Jaylah trying to hide the ship from him. I suppose Jaylah probably doesn't know Krall's true identity, so it makes sense for her to want to hide it from him.

Apparently it never occurred to Krall/Edison to hike over to the wreckage of the Franklin, start her up and fly off the planet to have his revenge.

Maybe Krall/Edison and his crew just didn't have the skills or knowledge to repair the Franklin and get it working again. Scotty apparently does though! Once he arrives he splices a couple of wires and has it up and running in an hour or two.

• As I mentioned earlier, Krall is yet another underdeveloped villain, which seems to be the norm these days. His tired revenge plot seems undercooked as well, as it's riddled with plot holes and doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

His ship entered a dangerous nebula that housed a hidden planet inside. His ship crashed on the planet and his crew was stranded. Starfleet assumes the ship and crew were lost doesn't bother to send out a rescue party. Enraged at being "abandoned," he artificially prolongs his life and amasses an army of mining drones, waiting for the day when he can exact his revenge.

Oh, and he's a warrior who feels betrayed because Starfleet switched from a military organization to one of peace and exploration.

Krall's revenge plan is missing just one thing— the super powerful Abronath. That's why he lures the Enterprise to his planet, so he can steal the artifact from the ship and start revenging through the galaxy.

But how does he know the Abronath is onboard the Enterprise? He's supposedly on a planet that's completely cut off from the rest of the galaxy!

And why does Krall completely destroy the Enterprise? He wants off his planet so he can terrorize the galaxy, right? Wouldn't a starship have come in mighty handy for such a plan?

As I said, none of this makes a whole lot of sense. This is definitely another area of the script that could have used another pass.

• One last thing about Krall— once again we get a movie in which the villain is a rogue Starfleet officer. This happened in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek Into Darkness and in more episodes of the various TV series than I can list.

I thought Roddenberry's future world was supposed to be a utopia in which everyone held hands and got along? What the hell's up with all these nutty captains and admirals? Is there something in the water at Starfleet Headquarters?

• This is probably some more extreme nitpicking, but what the heck. Spock's seriously injured when his escape pod crashes on Altamid. McCoy cauterizes his wound with a heated shard of metal, causing Spock to cry out in pain.

Eh, I don't know. I like to think a Vulcan wouldn't moan in agony when injured. I think there was even an episode of the Original Series that stated that (The Savage Curtain?).

• The injured Spock tells McCoy why he broke up with Uhura. After the events of the first film, Vulcans are now an endangered species in the galaxy. Spock feels it's his duty to return to New Vulcan and help, er, repopulate the planet.

Um... did everyone forget that Spock's not a true Vulcan? He's half human, remember? Vulcans seem like the types that would want a genetically pure population— no half-breeds allowed. Maybe after the destruction of their homeworld they're really hard up, and can't be too choosy about who they let in their gene pool.

• The script features a few nice examples of foreshadowing, which seems to be a lost art these days. 

At the beginning of the film, Uhura breaks up with Spock and tries to return the necklace he gave her. He refuses, saying that's not the Vulcan way. Later on, he uses the properties of the necklace to track her down to Krall's lair. Well done!

When Uhura first meets Krall, she's surprised that he speaks and understands English. When she asks how he could have possibly learned her language, he brushes her off, saying "he knows a great many things" or something like that. Later on we find out he's not an alien after all, but a mutated human, which explains his fluency. Again, well done!

And as much as I loathed the horribly out of place hiphop music, I have to admit it was nicely set up. When we first see Jaylah in her "house," she's got a futuristic boombox she uses to play Public Enemy. Later when they need a signal to destroy the drones, she's able to use the boombox to punch up Sabotage.

• The film feature lots of Easter Eggs, references and callbacks to the Original Series, and strangely enough, Enterprise.

One of the alternate posters for the film is obviously an homage to the Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which was painted by illustrator Bob Peak). Cool! I'm still puzzled though as to why the "official" poster doesn't say "Star Trek" on it anywhere, like the studio's ashamed of the name.

Kirk says it's the 966th day of their five year mission. Supposedly this is a reference to the Original Series premiering in 1966. I guess they didn't say it was the 1,966th day of the mission because that would place the mission well past five years.

The starbase in the film is called the Yorktown. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry chose this as the name of the starship in the Original Series, before changing it to the Enterprise.

When Kirk and crew first land in Yorktown, there's an announcement that saying the USS Stargazer, NCC-2893 is arriving. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard said the Stargazer was the first ship he ever commanded.

When Kirk asks Scotty how a primitive starship like the Franklin could have made it so far out in space, he says it could have happened during the Romulan War, or a big green space hand could have grabbed it. This is a reference to the Original Series episode Who Mourns For Adonais?, in which a giant green hand did just that.

Scotty rescues Spock and McCoy by beaming them from the planet's surface to the Franklin. He says because of the twitchy nature of the ship's primitive early transporter, he beamed them separately so they didn't become "merged." I'm betting that's a reference to the Voyager episode Tuvix, in which a transporter accident melded Lt. Tuvok and Neelix together into a new being. It might also be a reference to The Wrath Of Khan, in which Spock placed his katra into McCoy's mind.

McCoy offers a toast to Kirk, saying, "Here's to perfect eyesight and a full head of hair." That's obviously another The Wrath Of Khan reference (in which Kirk has to start wearing glasses), along with a dig at William Shatner, who, despite vehemently denying it, famously wears a toupee.

In Krall/Edison's log entry, he says he was a MACO soldier who fought in the Xindi and Romulan wars. Those are all Enterprise references, which is surprising, since that series never seems to get much love from fans. MACOs (which stands for "Military Assault Command Operations") were basically space marines assigned to Captain Archer's Enterprise during Earth's short-lived war with the alien Xindi race. Supposedly Season 5 of Enterprise would have dealt with the Earth/Romulan War, but the series was cancelled before that could happen.

Also in Krall/Edison's log entries, he's sporting a blue jumpsuit very similar to the ones worn by the crew on Enterprise.

Lastly the USS Franklin looks a lot like Captain Archer's starship Enterprise from the Enterprise series.

• Krall sends his massive swarm of ships to destroy Starbase Yorktown. Spock correctly reasons that the individual drones in the swarm are controlled by old fashioned radio signals that can be disrupted. 

To that end, the crew rigs up an old radio transmitter and broadcasts music— specifically Sabotage by The Beastie Boys— to interfere with the signal and cause the drones to crash into one another. A few things here.

First of all, this is pretty much the climax of Mars Attacks, in which a Slim Whitman album was played loudly and caused the Martians' heads to explode.

Secondly, again with the goddamned Sabotage! I like the song as much as the next person, but it's massively out of place in Star Trek. And this is the SECOND time it's been included in these rebooted films. When I was sitting in the theater watching the film, the second the crew started talking about using radio waves I actually said out loud "No. No. They wouldn't. They couldn't!" because I could see what was coming. Sure enough, they did it. Sigh...

Lastly, did they absolutely have to broadcast a song? Why couldn't they have just sent out an electronically generated pulse or tone? Because that wouldn't have been kewl, dontcha know.

• In the last reel Kirk confronts Krall, who's planting the magic McGuffin Device in the Yorktown's air generator or something. Kirk tries to stop Krall, and the two engage in a lengthy, zero gravity fist fight. The crew manages to open an airlock at the last second and blow Krall into space.

Why couldn't the Yorktown staff have just beamed Krall into space? We saw early on they had personal transporters on the station.

• Once again we get yet another scene of a starship bursting out of the water. That happened twice in Into Darkness— we saw the Enterprise rise out of a lake and the Vengeance crash into San Francisco Bay. What's up with the bizarre obsession this series has with showing spaceships splashing in and out of water? It's just downright weird.

• At the end of the film, Kirk makes a toast to absent friends. We immediately cut to a shot of the crew, with actor Anton Yeltchin as Chekov standing right in the middle of the screen. That had to be a coincidence, but it was damned eerie nonetheless.

Star Trek Beyond isn't a perfect film, but it's definitely a step in the right direction, after the huge misstep of Into Darkness. It feels more like Star Trek than the previous films did, proving Simon Pegg understands the characters. With just a bit of polishing it could have been epic. Now if we could just convince the filmmakers that The Beastie Boys have no place in Trek and keep the spaceships out of water, we might have something. I give it a B.

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