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StarTrek: BEYOND, But Not So "Boldly"

Updated on July 29, 2016

As the movie begins, Captain Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise are ensconced in a new Federation space station, really a mini-planet of its own, but presumably bigger than Pluto. This CG bauble is pretty impressive -- spacious, light-filled, really a kind of "anti-Death Star", if you get my meaning.

We are also served up some warmed-over subplots before jumping into hyperspace -- Spock and Uhuru are sorta breaking up; Kirk has a sorta choice between a high post in the Space Federation or continuing to captain the Enterprise. Stock stuff that takes too long to set up and dispense with.

Finally, the Enterprise is given her mission -- to find and rescue the crew of a downed spacecraft on a Dark Planet Far, Far Away: "DPFFA" for short. When they arrive at DPFFA and before Captain Kirk can so much as say, "replace your tray tables", the Enterprise is viciously attacked by, no surprise, an alien force. A battalion of space soldiers swarming paradoxically like "bees", is able to do what 3 years on TV and multiple movies have failed to do -- destroy the Enterprise.

It's a shocking and entertaining sequence, and it led me to think the movie had finally kickstarted to life. Falsely, it turns out. All this accomplishes is to strand Kirk, Spock and the crew, isolated from one another, on seemingly-deserted DPFFA. Something sound familiar here? Like "Gilligan's Island"? Or "Lost In Space"?

Bad enough. When the cosmic dust settles, something really loathsome and terrible sets in: boredom. And settles in hard, like that unwelcome neighbor who covets your superior wi-fi.

Having effectively "Giligan-ized" our heroes, the movie makes the disastrous decision to break up the crew into character pairs: Spock and Bones; Kirk and Chekhov; Scotty with a quirky blonde female alien, Jayla; and Uhuru and Sulu. Hey, at least the last two rhyme.

This oh-so-familiar tv plot device devolves further, as each character-pair is left with almost nothing to do. In the hackneyed and unrealistic dialog exchanges that follow, each character-pair sets about working out their personal character problems with one another. Bones counsels Spock on his love life; Chekhov struggles to keep rein on the impulsive Kirk; and Uhuru and Sulu struggle to keep from saying each other's names back to back.

Scotty and the cute blonde alien, Jayla, the appropriately liberated alien female, have the best lines together, and are one of the highlights of the movie.

Well, why not? Simon Pegg who plays Scotty wrote the damn thing -- featherbedding his own character with the only real fun in the whole movie. In this Scotty-Jayla subplot, there's a disagreement between them over some loud rap music that Jayla has presumably downloaded from her Intergalactic Pandora (insert bad joke about "K-Earth 101" here). An effort to pull in younger audiences? Except, in this interminable slough, even youngsters are aging mightily by now.

Later on, when the alien "bee swarm" attacks the space station, Scotty has just the answer on how to disrupt their flock-behavior -- "beam" (get it?) Fayla's Pandora playlist out into space, where the rap song will disrupt the alien bee swarm quicker than you can say "nutin' honey"!

It's laughable of course, but not the good-laughable like Scotty's and Jayla's lines. (Did I mention: he wrote it?) As a plot device, it recalls Jeff Goldblum's "we'll log onto the alien's website" meme in "Independance Day". In a surprising twist, "ID: Resurgence" is now in theaters. Don't get me started on THAT one; wait, did Scotty write that one, TOO?

Kirby Timmons, Santa Clarita CA


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