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.

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.

George Takei sets phaser to ‘angry jerk,’ shoots himself and makes ‘blackface’ comment

George TakeiOne would think that activist and former Star Trek actor George Takei would be happy. The Supreme Court ruled last week that same-sex marriage must be allowed in all 50 States. Obergefell v. Hodges went down in the history books exactly as Mr. Takei wanted. Instead of basking in the light of a new day, he used the legislative victory to a.) call Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a “clown in blackface” while b.) demonstrating that he has serious reading comprehension problems.

News Busters posted the part of Justice Thomas’ commentary that made the actor explode during a recent interview:

“Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which
this Nation was built.

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.” — Clarence Thomas.

This seems pretty straightforward for anyone who doesn’t have partisan goggles strapped on so tight that blood flow to the brain is constricted. In short, dignity is something that all men have because they were created in God’s image. For whatever strange reason, Angry George doesn’t get it.

Here is what the actor told a Fox affiliate in Phoenix:

“He is a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court. He gets me that angry. He doesn’t belong there. And for him to say, slaves have dignity. I mean, doesn’t he know that slaves were in chains? That they were whipped on the back. If he saw the movie 12 Years a Slave, you know, they were raped. And he says they had dignity as slaves or — My parents lost everything that they worked for, in the middle of their lives, in their 30s. His business, my father’s business, our home, our freedom and we’re supposed to call that dignified? Marched out of our homes at gun point. I mean, this man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America.”

It seems self-evident that telling a black man who grew up the South prior to the Civil Rights movement that he should watch “12 Years a Slave” is a pretty dumb move, so I’ll ignore that one. Instead, we’ll talk about World War II.

Author Laura Hillenbrand summed up Louis Zamperini thoughts on dignity in her bestselling book “Unbroken.” For those who are unfamiliar with Olympian and World War II hero Mr. Zamperini, I high suggest reading the book. Ms. Hillenbrand’s retelling of the veteran’s fight for survival at sea and in multiple Japanese P.O.W. camps will change the way you see the world.

“Few societies treasured dignity, and feared humiliation, as did the Japanese, for whom loss of honor could merit suicide. This is likely one of the reasons why Japanese soldiers in World War II debased their prisoners with such zeal, seeking to take from them that which was most painful and destructive to lose. On Kwajalein, Louie and Phil learned a dark truth known to the doomed in Hitler’s death camps, the slaves of the American South, and a hundred other generations of betrayed people. Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it. The loss of it can carry a man off as surely as thirst, hunger, exposure, and asphyxiation, and with greater cruelty. In places like Kwajalein, degradation could be as lethal as a bullet.” (Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken. Random House, Inc., 2004. 183)

That late Mr. Zamperini and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas both demonstrated a deep understanding of human dignity. Given Mr. Takei’s politics, it is no surprise that he would mistake the crystal clear message — all men are born with dignity because they were given life by our Creator — for an insult.

To Mr. Takei, dignity is bestowed upon men when nine judges in black robes essentially invent rights or the federal government doles out benefits to ‘Person A’ paid for by ‘Person B’ (usually without B’s consent). It is no wonder that the Star Trek actor is  such an angry man — he’s been waiting his entire life for someone to give him a certain kind of dignity that he always possessed.

Just under the surface of all those Facebook jokes and silly memes is man whose blood boils with red-hot rage. It’s unfortunate, because during a time when he should have just sat back and smiled, Mr. Takei decided to show the world that he — and not Clarence Thomas — is the real clown. A very sad clown.

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.