Archive | July, 2016

Why Star Trek: Beyond can’t tell its art from its Elba

25 Jul
STAR TREK BEYOND

For God’s sake, Jim, I’m a liberal not a fascist! Spock and Bones with newcomer Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) in Star Trek: Beyond 

Really, internet? Does no one apart from me find it peculiar that, in Star Trek: Beyond, the Enterprise crew keep talking about strength in unity? They are the ultimate liberals – Simon Pegg, who wrote the script this time round, even recently said the Enterprise crew would have been unanimous Remainers in the Brexit vote – and yet this slogan is the very definition of fascism. A “fasces” in Latin is a bound-together bundle of sticks – one stick is easily snapped, a bundle is not.

The saying and its application also feel like an inferior retread of “the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many”. Perhaps it’s one of Pegg’s many deliberate homages to the original series, but it comes across as lazy.

Indeed, the plot seems even more perfunctory in conception and risible in denouement than usual. The much-touted new character, who shares pride of place on the poster with Kirk and Spock, has no more depth than any other identikit bad-ass martial-arts babe (with, admittedly, a talent for engineering thrown in). The dialogue, though fitfully entertaining, is never as laugh-out-loud funny as you would expect from being off the Pegg, though in his defence he was simultaneously filming Mission Impossible at the time of writing and had to be talked out of resigning by producer JJ Abrams. And while the last Star Trek film had the more nuanced Benedict Cumberbatch, Kraal is a painfully stereotypical villain, with a face where you can’t tell its arse from its Elba.

Ah well. Star Trek: Beyond still has much to recommend it. Hugely superior production design, for a start. The “snowglobe in space” that houses millions of people in a suspiciously fragile-looking bubble one-ups the curved space base in Elysium with a dizzying convergence of gravity-defying walkways, shimmering lakes and bendy skylines. A crashing Enterprise similarly upends gravitational logic to have Kirk climbing floors and walking on walls. The action scenes, courtesy of Fast & Furious 6 director Justin Lin, are faultless.

Overall, as a life-long Trekker, did I enjoy it? Hell yes. I mean Jeez – I remember what it’s like to sit through Star Trek V: The Final Frontier in the cinema. Criticism be damned: may the current incarnation of bold goers live long and prosper.