I’m trying to just talk about the movie itself here, and not about past Trek movies and TV shows and my own nearly lifelong relationship with the series. I can’t do it.
In the new movie, the characters seemed most true to the original series. In earlier JJ Abrams Trek movies, Kirk especially but all the characters seemed like children. Chris Pine is 36 years old now — a year older than William Shatner was when he started playing Kirk. He’s believable.
I had a lot of problems with the first two movies in this series. For me, there were a couple of themes that were always important to Trek. The Federation sought peaceful solutions to problems, and only resorted to violence when the peaceful solution proved impossible. Of course, this being a science fiction action-adventure series, the peaceful solution was impossible just about every episode. But they tried for peace first.
The new series of movies seemed too bloodthirsty. In the first two movies, Kirk and the gang were going after vengeance. True Trek doesn’t do vengeance. Vengeance is for the bad guys.
A second major theme of the movies was that the Federation was a meritocracy. Captain Kirk was born a nobody, an Iowa farmboy. He achieved his position through hard work and ability (and, sure, cheating on the Kobayashi Maru — but still that was his work). In the new movies, Kirk gets in Starfleet Academy because his Dad was an officer. He doesn’t get his position from hard work and talent. He inherits it.
But all that baggage is gone now. The new movie finds the Enterprise on a rescue mission gone wrong. Kirk has now earned the captaincy he previously inherited — and he has his doubts about what he’s doing. He’s burned out.
I loved the opening sequence. There’s a real sense of the ship being a tiny little bubble of comfort and safety in the indifferent vastness of space. I don’t remember that from any of the series or other movies.
The character interplay was easygoing. They’ve been cooped up together in this tiny bottle for three years. They know each other very well, better than family.
Likewise, I loved the bits at the end, after the bad guy has been vanquished.
In the middle…. too much action. I love a good action movie, but today’s action movies seem to be ALL action. It needs pacing.
Julie got motion sickness from all the swooping camera angles.
The sets and special effects were gorgeous, particularly the Yorktown, one of the most science-fictional things I’ve ever seen on the big screen.
I liked that every one of the major characters got a turn to shine. Scotty and Jaylah stole it. Or maybe Spock and Bones stole it. Or maybe it was Kirk and Chekov. Poor Anton Yelchin — I don’t remember him from the previous movies. In those movies, he seemed like just an extra with a few speaking lines and a Russian accent. He was quite good in “Star Trek: Beyond.”
I liked that the women were portrayed as powerful and self-reliant, the equal of men. The second J.J. Abrams movie in particular was all about the white men, except for one scene where a female scientist strips to her underwear for no particular reason.
I loved the new character, Jaylah. I hope we see more of her in future movies.
I loved that we got to see some real alien-looking aliens, who didn’t just look like human actors wearing rubber masks.
I thought the main storyline was confusing. I get the broad strokes, but I was confused on the details. Who were all the other people on the planet with the main villain? Where did he get the swarming thingies he used to take down the Enterprise? What was the origin of the superweapon?
I could have used more Idris Elba acting, rather than just being a generic science fiction villain.
Overall, I liked it. Didn’t love it. Looking forward to the next movie, and the TV series in January.