Star Trek Beyond: For better or worse, Pegg’s script brings mindless summer fun

James T Kirk

Stark Trek Beyond is a peculiar movie. A cursory glance of the screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung would seem to have all the makings of a great adventure for the Enterprise crew. The problem, however, is that it is missing a certain level of intellectual gravitas that long-time fans of Gene Roddenberry’s creation have come to expect.

J.J. Abrams successfully rebooted the Star Trek franchise in 2009 and then followed that up with the solid Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013. Both movies pushed the creative pendulum more towards an action-oriented audience, but Beyond seems to fully embrace the “mindless summer fun” designation. Director Justin Lin of Fast & Furious 6 fame is happy to oblige, which is either horrible or great news depending on your allegiance to Mr. Roddenberry’s original vision.

Here is what you need to know about Beyond:

  • Chris Pine as Captain Kirk; Zachary Quinto as Spock; Karl Urban as Bones; Simon Pegg as Scotty; John Cho as Sulu; Zoe Saldana as Lieutenant Uhura; and the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov all look comfortable in their roles. Everyone has at least a brief moment to shine, and most of the humor hits the mark. The crew is scattered across a planet far out of reach of the United Federation of Planets, which allows for character development between Bones and Spock that should pay off in future movies.
  • Sofia Boutella is convincing and entertaining as Jaylah, a warrior who lives alone on a deserted Starfleet ship. There is one problem: She seems in many ways like a knockoff of Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Simon Pegg may deny lifting aspects of Rey from J.J. Abrams while on set filming his role as junk parts dealer Unkar Plutt, but the similarities are a bit too convenient (i.e., young, fiercely independent woman who lost her parents is great with mechanical devices and a staff. She is also intelligent, witty, and quick on her feet.)
  •   Idris Elba does a fine job with the script he was given as the villain Krall, who is after an ancient artifact in Kirk’s possession for reasons unknown for most of the movie. Elba’s problem, however, is that the character is underdeveloped. For the most of the movie he remains an enigma, and by the time his true nature it is revealed the audience reaction isn’t shock and awe, but, “Sure. I guess. You could have disclosed all this in the first act and then spent the rest of the movie making him a better foil.”
  • The Beastie Boys. I say this as someone who grew up in the 90s and has nothing but love for the song Sabotage: “Why, Simon Pegg? Why?” I do not want to spoil anything in the main body of this review, but I will gladly talk about the song’s role in the comments section below.

Is Beyond worth seeing in the theater at full price? The short answer is yes. It is by no means a bad movie, but at the same time it will be a bit frustrating to fans who expect something a tad more cerebral from their Star Trek fare.

This third installment of the rebooted franchise is the weakest in terms of exploring philosophical conundrums, and as a result the movie suffers. It is an enjoyable film, but it is not something that would capture Spock’s interest for longer than five seconds. That seems like a significant failure to this blogger.


Did you see Star Trek Beyond? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments below. I’d love the hear what you have to say.

Liberalism, Iraqi Grave Diggers’ Union, and Captain Kirk’s Green Chicks.

There’s an article that came out a few years ago that I’ll never forget. You may remember it by its title: “As Violence Falls in Iraq, Cemetery Workers Feel The Pinch.” On the ticker tape printout of

Choose these "green" chicks over liberal "green" chicks and you'll be okay, Captain Kirk.

history the article won’t even garner a blip, but I think the mere fact that it was brought into existence says something about modern-day liberalism with the clarity of a solar flare.

The pesky thing about our liberal friends, who did everything in their power to bring about complete and utter failure in Iraq—including outright surrender—is that they’ll dissipate like invisible cosmic space dust only those who study politics for a living will be able to detect. And the sad thing is, most academics have the interesting distinction of falling into both camps.  This begs the question: What do you do when the chroniclers of history are also history’s perpetual failure-faces? If you’re a conservative, I guess you blog. And if you’re the Republican Governors Association, you create videos like this. And then you hope that some other kid on his maiden voyage into the intellectual ether of the Internet will come across your words like a young Captain Kirk. And if he’s lucky he’ll hook up with a green chick sometime before he dies (literally green—not the environmentally-green hippie chicks, because if their smell was a color it would usually be brown, but I digress)…

Back to the subject at hand. What editor looked at an improving situation in Iraq and thought, “This is a great opportunity to highlight the plight of the Iraqi gravedigger,”? Apparently, the big bad United States is always making enemies. If it’s accidentally killing civilians (i.e., people who were transmogrified into human shields when terrorists decided to use them as such), it’s the bad guy. If it’s protecting the civilian population to the extent that people are no longer taking dirt-naps, the Gravediggers Union is suddenly upset. Just as I learned from my liberal professors years ago: we’re always the bad guy (For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to experience the American-guilt-ridden professor and the student-loan debt they give you like a nasty STD, please just pick a modern Hollywood war movie from your net-flicks cue and you’ll see what I’m talking about).

If there’s someone out there who has a little time on their hands, I suggest putting together a compilation of the doomsday scenarios proffered nightly in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bizarro cheerleading for failure during the darkest days of the Iraq war was something that certainly didn’t Smell Like Teen Spirit; it smelled like the musty pheromones given off from a Chris Matthews leg-tingle, and I think the world would benefit from seeing all such stories put together in one place for easy access.