STAR TREK BEYOND

3 Stars - Powerful

On the 50th anniversary of the original series of Star Trek, we have an interesting interplay between the “alternate universe” cast and the original.  Although Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy) had been in the first two of the new series, he is unable to be in this one due to his passing.  But in a meaningful moment for all Star Trek fans, the alternate Spock finds a photograph of the original crew.  This tribute is fitting for a Sci-Fi series that can not only join alternative realities but can “warp” space in order to travel beyond the speed of light!

In this third film of the new series, director Justin Lin of Fast and Furious fame, brings the same high intensity action into what is usually a more thoughtful exploration of the human condition.  But that is not to say the central questions of good and evil or of individual triumph and community strength are not overtly explored.

The ensemble cast from the first two reboot films continues in this third installment: Captain James T Kirk (Chris Pine), Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto), Dr. “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), Lt. Uhura (Zoe Zaldana), Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin).  Reflecting the writing of Simon Pegg and Doug Yung, the alternate crew has characters who are both better developed while at times being caricatures of the original series.  Captain Kirk is better developed with an internal brooding on his purpose in life, while Bones is a more reactionary form of the original medical officer.

In this third film, the Enterprise is on a mission through a nebula that has been a barrier in the past.  Going beyond this past boundary is a choice made at the request of “Captain” Kalara (Lydia Wilson) who explains that her ship has crashed on an M class, or human-life sustaining, planet on the other side.  Embarking on what is thought to be a rescue mission, they make it beyond the nebula only to be unendurably attacked by a swarm of ships acting as a coordinated hive.  We won’t spoil the intrigue except to note that they come up against a very driven leader named Krall (Idris Elba) who is responsible for the attack and presents the primary moral issue of the film:  Are human’s best suited for conflict or for peace?  Is the destiny of humanity in the individual warrior or the peaceful community? 

Although in the film the factors creating this moral choice are as psychological as they are spiritual, the question nevertheless is an important one.  In the individualistic cultures the ultimate value of the individual and his or her rights to do as they please is often at the pinnacle of moral decision-making, while in other cultures the well-being of the community is of ultimate value and commitment to and belonging within those relationships is what matters.  Star Trek Beyond gives its answer to this cultural divide, but this question of ultimate values is having broad ramifications in a world as precarious for us as it is for the people in the Yorktown Space Station in the film.  Depicting Krall in the traditional satanic form, the message is clear that the brash, egotist who lives for himself is a danger to all humanity and has, within his grasp, a weapon able to destroy us all.  Like all Star Trek films the message is a valuable one that we need to learn before we come up against our own egotistical Krall.

Discussion:

  1. When Scotty is rescued by Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) we soon discover that humanity has been to the planet before and that the danger is of our own making.  Do you believe there is danger in sending humanity into space?  Why do you answer as you do?
  2. The moral question of the rights of the individual and the well-being of the community is always before us.  With which do you more naturally side?  Which do you think is best?  Does this film influence your thinking?
  3. The courage of Kirk in the rescue of Jaylah is reminiscent of a scene from the Fast and Furious series.  Do you find such action exciting or distracting?

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Posted on August 5, 2016 and filed under 3 STARS, POWERFUL.