“Crippled by shaky cam” Star Trek Beyond review


By Rob Stoakes

So, first thing’s first, what is it with the Star Trek reboots and their subtitles?

Star Trek: Beyond! Umm… beyond what? I’ve just seen the film and I can’t tell you what exactly they’re going beyond. Beyond good and evil, beyond the horizon, beyond the solar system, what? Into Darkness had the same problem; never once was it actually dark in that film. The originals never had this problem; Wrath of Khan did indeed have an angry man named Khan, and Search for Spock was about looking for Spock. But Beyond could be about anything.

In this case, it’s about the Enterprise crew going into a thuddingly obvious trap and getting stranded on a planet full of baddies without any way of contacting the Federation. So Star, so Trek. However, this is only part of the story. The real story is that Captain Kirk is feeling increasingly disillusioned with his mission, and must get his groove back. It’s quite subtle stuff, with Beastie Boy’s Sabotage coming back again, him recounting stories about his dad’s old motorbike, the tense standoff at the end between him and the villain, it’s very good and thematic…

… and it is utterly ruined right at the beginning of the film when Bones basically recounts everything I said above with all of the subtlety and nuance of a rampaging gorilla.


Photo by Paramount Pictures.

And that’s how it goes throughout the film. Structurally, the plot is fine, with most characters having a decent enough arc to advance them into the next film, but the script just has one too many bugs to truly nail the landing. The villain, especially, suffers from this, being incredibly interesting for the last ten minutes after two hours of him being almost insufferably boring and generic. Simon Pegg was not happy with the final product and you can kind of tell why. There’s a certain edge that’s been sanded off and you can smell a studio mandated re-write in scenes that didn’t need it or while other scenes badly needed another go and just fell through.

What the film absolutely did not need, too, was the shaky cam. And I know the new Bourne is on the horizon, so I’ll address this now; why, Hollywood? Why must we still do this song and dance six years after the Clash of the Titans remake was mauled to death over these beans? Does only being able to catch a glimpse of someone grunting and the camera juddering like a mechanical bull with Tourettes really improve the film that much? The most popular action films of the last few years have been the likes of John Wick, Mad Max Fury Road and The Raid, and yet you refuse to learn. Stop it! Bad Hollywood! Bad!

It’s a shame, too, because literally everything else in the film looks really good. The alien world itself is very good looking, harkening back to the retro-era “let’s film everything in a quarry” aspect of the original TV series while still being fresh, they’ve finally dropped the awful lens-flare, and the aliens all look remarkably cool, especially Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah. Plus, Justin Lin is great at using a digital camera for what it’s good for; making shots that would be impossible otherwise.

The worst thing about Star Trek: Beyond (besides the name) is that it’s a sort-of alright movie with a bona fide classic struggling to get out. It actually feels like a Star Trek film, which is far better than Insurrection or Into Darkness ever achieved, the banter between the characters is genuinely funny at times, and the previously mentioned plot structurally holds together very nicely. However, the crippling use of shaky cam and the lack of polish completely shoots the film in the leg, and leaves it as just ok.

Though, still, at least it’s not as bad a movie as Star Trek: Beyond is a name.

Category Score
Story/Plot :star: :star: :star: 1/2
Acting/Vocal Performance :star: :star: :star: 1/2
Special Effects/Cinematography :star: 1/2
Soundtrack :star: :star: 1/2
Costume/Design :star: :star: :star:
Script/Dialogue :star: :star:
RATING :star: :star: :star:

And for those who prefer spoilers in their reviews, you can check out Rob’s extra review on the Battleship Potemkast!

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