Film Reviews

The Transformative Power of Justin Lin’s Storytelling: An Initial Hater’s Review of “Star Trek Beyond”


When word first reached my ears that Justin Lin had officially signed on to direct the third installment of Abrams’ “Kelvin Timeline” films, truth be told, I think I threw up in my mouth (just a little though). The illustrious director of such classics as The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast and Furious, Fast Five, and Fast and Furious 6 was gonna be tasked with carrying the proverbial torch of my beloved Trek films? To put my initial reaction into perspective (if my reflexive vomiting wasn’t clear enough), it was like finding out Santa Claus was, in reality, a kiddie fiddler. Now, I know that is quite the harsh presumption on my part; a presumption that Justin Lin couldn’t possibly have the chops to deliver. What can I say? I’m part of a geek culture that loves to whine about things they know nothing about. However, after seeing Beyond for the second time (this time in IMAX 3D), and possibly once more before it saunters out of its theatrical run, I’d like to fully enter my arrogance for the jury as evidence of my complete and total ignorance. To say it was merely “okay” would be an unforgivable insult to its team of movie magicians because it was, quite correctly, a fan-friggin‘-tastic addition to the universe Roddenberry created all those years ago. It carried all of the elements which have made its predecessors – from Wrath of Khan, all the way down to Nemesis – such fun, movie-going experiences at the theater, and, in a surprising way, felt kind-of-sort-of episodic, like a two-part storyline within a television series. A feeling that co-writer Simon Pegg confirmed via a recent interview on the Star Trek podcast Engage. He and fellow scribe Doug Jung felt it right to inject a bit of that classic Original Series feel into their third film; a move that perfectly harmonizes with the franchise’s 50th anniversary in just a short weeks’ time. As a matter of fact, Kirk makes a comment in his Captain’s Log at the beginning of the film about being in space feeling a little “episodic”. Now, I know my two-cents is late by a little more than a month-to-the-day of Beyond’s theatrical release (Comic-Con, the eighth Harry Potter book, and all manner of other geeky stimuli forever thieving my free-time on the regular completely derailed my plans to scribble a word or two about my love for this film), and if you’re reading this you’ve probably already sat through a viewing, or two, and are either nodding your head in agreement or you’re rolling your eyes while simultaneously cursing your device’s screen because of the abomination you feel this movie is (I’m hoping it’s a 90–10 split in favor of the former). Either way, I hope you’ll indulge me a moment in time-and-space to get all fanboy on ya. Feel free to curse-away. Every opinion counts in my book. Unless you’re part of the 10% portion of fandom that I mentioned, then I hope you have every ounce of salt drained from your body. Kidding.

In all seriousness though, I really REALLY loved this film. It could have easily succumbed to the all-too-common curse that most third chapters of a series tend to fall prey to; and with its predecessors being Star Trek ’09 and Into Darkness, the weight of expectation on the shoulders of its crew was insurmountable. Yet, they not only endured, but thrived, and in the process gave us a film wholly worthy of inclusion within Trek-lore. There were so many great moments: Kirk and crew sporting uniforms which mirrored their Original Series counterparts; the scenes with Spock and Bones; Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah, and her scenes with Scotty; Sulu’s brief, but groundbreaking franchise-moment with his partner and their daughter (his name is apparently Ben, and he’s played by Beyond’s co-writer Doug Jung); the wee nod, or so it seemed, to Galaxy Quest in the beginning; and, of course, the beautiful handling of Leonard Nimoy’s passing (and subtle nod to our recent loss of Anton Yelchin). My only hope is that the next group of caretakers respect the chair – as Captain Pike would say, and give us another great story worth telling – which, if you don’t already know, is currently being penned by the same writers who collaborated with Roberto Orci on his original – albeit abandoned – third film’s script back when he was inline to write as well as direct; and it’ll include an encounter between Chris Pine’s Kirk and his father, George (to be played again by Chris Hemsworth), presumably via some wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey Doctor Who sort of plot twist. Tissue will undoubtedly be a required accoutrement to my movie-going experience, for the waterworks will probably be a-flowin’ (I’m such a softie).

It’ll be a weird feeling the next time around, for when the fourth film in the Kelvin Timeline prances its pretty little face onto the big screen, we’ll also have a television show running concurrently in our universe – something that hasn’t happened since Nemesis and Enterprise shared our undivided attention in 2002. It would seem that the stars have finally aligned once again. Now all I have to do is avoid pesky obstacles like dying before then. Think I’ll forego any red-colored shirts for the interim.

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