The Frontier Pushes Back


Star Trek BeyondWARNING! SPOILERS! The third film in the rebooted series sees the crew of the Enterprise stranded on a planet with a warlord who wants to re-create an ancient weapon. Through a bizarre coincidence, the piece he needs is on the Enterprise, having been intended but rejected as a peace offering from one planet to another. So he lures the entire ship to his planet, instead of just having someone steal the piece he needs. Since we later learn he survives by transferring his essence into new bodies, however, I guess he wants more potential hosts as well. I’m not sure why his voice gets transferred as well, but no one wants to let Idris Elba’s voice go to waste. Krall turns out to be a former military commander turned Starfleet captain who is totally opposed to the Federation’s diplomatic approach.

He tells Kirk that he fought the Xindi and the Romulans, only to find the Federation negotiating with them. Isn’t that what usually happens after a war? Was he in favor of Romulan genocide, or what? It seems like they glossed over what could have been an interesting motivation in favor of just “I like war.” Come to think of it, has the Trek franchise ever done anything with people terrified of a One World Government, since that’s what they have? This is also another character from the past who holds a grudge, which was also the case with Khan. The first movie in this series (sub-series?) had a character from the FUTURE with a grudge. I suppose the scene at the very beginning with the tiny aliens not understanding diplomacy was a thematic foreshadowing of Krall’s motivation, as well as a way to get the super-weapon piece onto the ship. If the aliens had just accepted it, I wonder how Krall would have gone about trying to retrieve it.

While the plot was convoluted, there were definitely elements of the film that I liked. The look of the Yorktown space station was quite appealing, with its space age architecture and mix of human and alien inhabitants.

I liked the interaction between Spock and McCoy, the franchise’s foremost frenemies. And I liked the character of Jayla, the alien scavenger with a blonde ponytail. Her language gaffes (she consistently calls Scotty and Kirk “Montgomery Scotty” and “James T.”, respectively) were funny without making her a goofy foreigner.

It does seem a little unlikely that she learned English simply by accessing the records of the Franklin, but this is a franchise where universal translators can decipher an entire alien language in a brief period of time. Speaking of which, why was the translator working on a delay with Kalara? I’m also not sure why the Franklin would have contained an antique motorcycle and music that was over a century old. But then, Trek characters seem to be disproportionately interested in media from the twentieth century and before. There’s a reference to the Beastie Boys as “classical music,” which was also done on Futurama with Sir Mix-A-Lot. So what do people in the future consider what we now call classical music, which we know to still exist in their time? Or is it all under the classical umbrella, sort of like how we now commonly refer to Baroque and Romantic as classical? It makes me wonder what the music is like in the Trek present, aside from Klingon opera. Everyone on Futurama also seemed to be obsessed with thousand-year-old music, but at least that was supposed to be funny.

Beth pointed out that Chris Pine’s Kirk reminds her of Charlie Sheen, which I can see. He’s actually sort of a caricature of William Shatner’s Kirk, I think. I’ve heard from people who watched more of the original series than I did that Kirk’s reputation as a reckless guy who plays by his own rules is somewhat exaggerated. Yes, it’s part of his character, but he does go by the book pretty often, and doesn’t have quite as much hot alien sex as people tend to think. Maybe the new Kirk is supposed to be brattier because he grew up without a father. Doesn’t seem fair to single mothers, but you’ll notice he doesn’t start to reform until Captain Pike steps in as a surrogate dad. And Old Spock has kind of a Marty McFly thing going on, trying to make sure the future is basically as he remembers it. But then, Marty was in danger of fading out of existence, while Old Spock made no attempt to return to his own time. Leonard Nimoy’s death is even acknowledged in this film by having the character die in the past, but Young Spock is still too attached to his older self’s nostalgia to even try forging his own path. They also have to leave room for a sequel, although that’s not entirely fair, as Spock’s death didn’t stop them from continuing the original film series. As for Anton Yelchin’s recent death, J.J. Abrams has allegedly said that the role of Chekov won’t be recast for any future sequels, but that leaves open the question of whether they’ll kill off the character or just write him out. Or maybe they can bring back Walter Koenig and say he was caught in a temporal anomaly. That wouldn’t technically be a recast, right?

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4 Responses to The Frontier Pushes Back

  1. jaredofmo says:

    Krall didn’t swap bodies. The way I picked it up when I saw it the day before yesterday (and then had confirmed when I listened to a couple episodes of the Empire Film Podcast I’d saved to avoid spoilers), is that he absorbs “the life force” of other beings to prolong his life, and he takes on physical attributes of the species he uses. That’s why he begins looking more human after he’s killed a few human members of the Enterprise. (They said the device he used to do this is actually called “Krall,” but they never managed to make it clear in the final cut.)

    I was wondering if they could have Jayla take Chekov’s position in their potential fourth movie, if Paramount decides to go ahead. Apparently, the box office hasn’t been generous to this movie, as last I checked, it had yet to make its budget back, but it still has to open in a few other countries.

    • Nathan says:

      I was wondering if they could have Jayla take Chekov’s position in their potential fourth movie, if Paramount decides to go ahead.

      Maybe. But then, they introduced Carol Marcus as part of the crew in the last movie, and she wasn’t in this one at all, so I wouldn’t necessarily put it past them to just quietly disappear the character.

  2. Too much CGI at the expense of too little emphasis on emotions and relationships. I found the movie unbalanced because of it and a bit of a disappointment. For example, there was that extremely interesting issue between Spock and Uhura about whether Spock should dilute his Vulcan bloodline further by having children with her or find a Vulcan wife instead in order to bolster the Vulcan diaspora. It had so much potential as a full dramatic storyline and was so criminally underexplored.

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