I went to the cinema to see Star Trek Beyond for the fifth time this week. It’s now my most watched film at the cinema and I just love it a lot. It’s hard to try and put in words why I love it so much, I do think it might be something to do with the passing of Anton Yelchin which affected me more than any other “celebrity death” ever has, but there’s definitely more to it than that.
Star Trek Beyond is full of hope and characters who trust each other and work together. Pretty much every other summer blockbuster this year has had characters being involved in a conflict against someone they were once friends with, like Captain America: Civil War, or just generally being quite “dark and gritty” like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and X-Men: Apocalypse. Star Trek Beyond is like the opposite of that, the crew of the Enterprise are split up and each face different challenges but they all work together. The line that really encapsulates Star Trek Beyond and its character is when Uhura says “There is strength in unity.” It’s the perfect message for the film and also for our real world where you’ve got Brexit and Trump dividing people and countries.
The thing I love the most about Star Trek Beyond, that then also makes me a little sad because of real life events, is how these characters don’t just feel like a crew but feel like a family. Splitting the main seven up and pairing them off in ways that you haven’t seen before is a great way to look at the character dynamics and to give characters like Chekov and Sulu (who really didn’t have much to do in the last film) time to shine. Showing these characters worried about each other and taking the spotlight away from the Kirk and Spock dynamic makes them feel like a family who have lived together for almost three years and have known and cared about each other for even longer. I can usually separate “real life from art” but knowing that Anton Yelchin has passed away and so Chekov won’t be in any future films makes everything slightly melancholy as I can’t help but think about the cast and how they’ve lost someone they’ve known for years and who is probably a very close friend.
It’s not just the main seven that feel like a solid unit, but the rest of the crew that you usually just see in the background. This is the first time you’ve ever met Ensign Syl but you feel like she’s known and valued by the main characters because Kirk trusts her and Uhura and Sulu actually know her name – it might sound silly but how often do you get one of the main characters just ignoring a background character and just referring to them as “You there”? This is a large group of people who have lived with each other for almost three years, the main characters are going to know the secondary or background characters.
Then you have Jaylah who I could probably write about at length because she is such a wonderful new character. She’s strong and capable but she still gets scared because she’s watched her family die and been forced to survive on her own for years. She’s not used to trusting people, she’s not even had anyone to talk to but her house for years, so when she finds Scotty and then the rest of the Enterprise crew comes into her life, it’s no wonder she’s wary of fighting by their side. I love Jaylah a lot and it’s been forever since I’ve fallen so hard and fast for a character. I hope she makes an appearance in future films, either calling Scotty for advice on engineering or life at the Academy or even being a part of the crew.
Then there’s all the little things I love about Star Trek Beyond that I’ve noticed as I’ve watched it multiple times.
- Jaylah’s face when she finally leaves the planet she’s been stranded on for years is great, it’s full of disbelief and wonder.
- That Chekov and Sulu actually share dialogue in this film, I’m pretty sure in the previous two they’ve never actually said anything to each other, just shared glances as they frantically pressed buttons.
- The fact that Krall always calls Uhura by her rank is really nice, it makes sense when you consider his backstory but before you know that it’s really unusual and even though he is the bad guy it shows a level of respect that you don’t often see between a bad guy and a woman he has captured.
- The look on Chekov’s face when Kirk manages to set off a trap, it’s like “I would follow this idiot Captain anywhere but he’s still an idiot.”
- The fact that there’s a lot of women and people of colour in the background shots of the Enterprise and the fact that women crew members can wear the usual dress uniform or have a shirt and trousers.
- And of course I’ve got to mention how the last ten minutes of the film makes me tear up and/or actually cry like four times, there’s the photo, the “To absent friends” line and subsequent shot, the final shot of the Enterprise crew together and then how they all say the “Space, the final frontier” monologue together. Oh and then there’s the dedications as the end.
Yeah, after watching Star Trek Beyond five times within the past month I can now notice some flaws, like the fact that Scotty calls Jaylah “Lassie” pretty much every time he talks to her and it gets rather annoying or how whenever Bones and Spock are in an enemy ship, it’s a bit difficult to follow what’s happening because the shots and editing aren’t that great. But that doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the whole movie.
Star Trek Beyond is exciting and fun and it’s comforting in the best possible way. It shows the good in humanity and it has done what none of the other Star Trek films have ever managed to do (I’ve watched them all now), it’s made me start watching the original series. Yes, it probably helps that Netflix has put them all straight to hand but how Star Trek Beyond showcased different character dynamics that you haven’t really seen in the past two films is what really made me want to see more about this characters.
I can see Star Trek Beyond becoming one of my go-to comfort movies. It makes me laugh and it makes me tear up, it’s full of characters I love and it’s a story all about working together and having faith in people. It makes me hopeful for humanity in general and there’s not a lot of films that have had that affect recently. Star Trek Beyond just makes me feel happy and that’s why I love it so much.