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.

Jaylah

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.

Zachary Quinto twists Takei’s stance on gay Sulu to cover for ‘Beyond’ team

George Takei

Simon Pegg and the “Star Trek Beyond” team approached George Takei months ago about their decision to make the character he played for decades, Hikaru Sulu, a gay man. Mr. Takei politely told them that creator Gene Roddenberry never wrote the USS Enterprise officer that way and that they should create a new character instead. The “Beyond” team disrespected his wish and now trots out Zachary Quinto to twist the original Sulu’s words.

Here is what Takei told The Hollywood Reporter earlier in the week:

“I told [John Cho], ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted.’ I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought.

I said, ‘This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character. I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen. I think it’s really unfortunate. I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed. I thought after that conversation with [director Justin Lin] that was going to happen.”

Here is the proper context: Mr. Takei, an LGBT activist, has played Sulu since the 1960s. He is the original Sulu and he knows what the creator would have wanted. A bunch of young guys essentially came to him for his blessing. They received an answer they did not like, did what they wanted anyway, and now try to frame his displeasure as if he has a thing against gay representation on film.

Here is what Zachary Quinto told Pedestrian.TV on Friday:

“As a member of the LGBT community myself, I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed. I get it that he has had his own personal journey and has his own personal relationship with this character, but … as we established in the first Star Trek film in 2009, we’ve created an alternate universe. My hope is that eventually George can be strengthened by the enormously positive response from especially young people who are heartened by and inspired by this really tasteful and beautiful portrayal of something that I think is gaining acceptance and inclusion in our societies across the world, and should be.”

There is no need for “eventually” because Mr. Takei already said he is “delighted” there is a gay character, Mr. Quinto. Therefore, Spock, it is “logical” to conclude that you are purposefully twisting the man’s stance like a petulant child because he wasn’t on board with the decision.

Zachary Quinto Star Trek Beyond trailer
“Disagree with Zachary Quinto? Why that’s … illogical.”

Simon Pegg was also offered his best straw man argument for the Guardian on Friday:

“He’s right, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?”

Again, it cannot be stressed enough that Simon Pegg and his team went to Mr. Takei for his advice and decades of experience with the character and Gene Roddenberry. They went to the original Sulu, defied him, and now pretend as if people won’t logically differentiate between the old and the new by calling Mr. Pegg’s version “gay Sulu.”

No one calls Captain Holt from the television show Brooklyn 99 “the gay Captain.” He’s just “Holt.” Why? Because the writers have done an excellent job.

If Brooklyn 99 is is reimagined in 25 years and writers make him straight, then people who loved the original will call him “straight Holt.” Lesson: Don’t mess with the source material.

Simon Peg Star Trek Beyond trailer
“We went to him for advice and he suggested we create a new character instead of altering the source material? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Marvel Comics made the same mistake with Iceman. The character has been around for decades, but writer Brian Michael Bendis decided to make him gay overnight. Critics who said it was lazy writing and disrespectful to the source material then faced the kind of backlash now experienced by George Takei.

Takei gay Sulu Twitter hate

George Takei is finding out what the rest of us have known for a long time: If you dare to disagree with activist-writers, then you will be demonized. If you dare to show any kind of reverence for source material, then you will be slimed as “homophobic” or “on the wrong side of history.” Their “right side of history” is defined as “those who agree with us.”

I hope the original Sulu sticks to this guns on this one because he has no reason to apologize. If anyone should apologize, then it’s those who came to him for his advice, led him to believe they would take his recommendation, and then did the exact opposite.

‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’: Tom Cruise and friends continue churning out cool spy flicks

Tom Cruise Mission Impossible Rogue NationTom Cruise’s Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation not only is a genuinely fun summer spy movie, but it now serves as the cinematic antacid for anyone who made the mistake of seeing Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four. The 5th installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise has everything fans expect from it — great acting, twists and turns, exotic locations, humor, amazing stunts, etc. — and there isn’t one of those levels on which it disappoints.

This time around, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF buddies are tracking the “anti-IMF” known as The Syndicate. There is only one problem: CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) saw to it that the U.S. government officially shut down IMF. If Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) help Ethan in his quest to bring to the “Rogue Nation,” then they will be committing an act of treason.

One aspect of Rogue Nation that helped guarantee its success was the ability of Rebecca Ferguson to nail the role of Ilsa Faust. She’s convincingly tough as nails, alluring, smart, cunning and athletic. She isn’t just a pretty woman in a fancy dress — she’s a take-no-prisoners, highly-trained intelligence agent (who may or may not have gone rogue).

Mission Impossible Rogue NationRogue Nation’s villain, played Sean Harris, is also impressive. Solomon Lane is convincingly one step ahead of Ethan Hunt throughout the movie, and in general the only thing to really gripe about is his brief time wearing a black turtleneck. No matter how evil a character is, it’s always slightly harder to take him seriously if he looks like the old Mike Meyers Saturday Night Live skit “Sprockets”… Regardless, it says something about a movie when the worst a critic can do is to complain about clothes the villain wore for less than five minutes of screen time.

If you like Tom Cruise movies, then see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. If you don’t like Tom Cruise and have just made up your mind that anything starring him is just “bad,” then take a moment to realize that your lack of objectivity is preventing you from seeing a really fun espionage flick.

In short, this movie reviewer hopes that Tom Cruise has a least another two or three Mission: Impossible movies up his sleeve, because Rogue Nation was one of his best efforts yet.