The first film in the Star Trek reboot series (simply titled—what else?—Star Trek) was one I unexpectedly found myself struggling with. On one hand, the beginning of that film were surprisingly great, and I loved the tense dynamic between Kirk and Spock (the leaders of the USS Enterprise, in case you don’t know), but on the other, the villain’s character was incredibly weak, and he had less screen time than the ship’s limp “comic relief” passengers. So I gave it a 7/10, and hoped that the two sequels—Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond—would be improvements. I’ve only seen Into Darkness so far, but it’s made me really dread what lies Beyond it.
Kirk and Spock, who aren’t nearly as fun together as they were in the previous film, now have to hunt down an intergalactic terrorist named—you guessed it—Khan, but the equally evil head of USS Vengeance (subtle, I know) wants him too. This all plays out very, very predictably, but that could have been forgivable if the screenplay was otherwise creative or thoughtful in any way, or if we at least got some compelling characters. Unfortunately, the film seems to have only been made with the intention of being a lazy Star Wars clone, so neither of those things are the case.
Not that I blame the actors for this—in fact, most of their performances were pretty solid, with Benedict Caumberbatch doing an especially good job playing Khan (even if he didn’t have that much to do with such a thin, been-there-done-that character). I blame the screenplay’s insistence on taking a relentlessly style-over-substance approach to its clichéd story, topped off with an overreliance on loud, flashy action scenes.
Sure, the action is impressive from a technical standpoint (just look at how high the film’s budget is), but it’s done to such a ridiculous degree, especially when it has absolutely nothing to do with the above plot, that it frankly comes off as obnoxious. You may retort by saying that this kind of big-budget, action-heavy, switch-off-your-brain blockbuster just isn’t for me, and perhaps you’re right. However, that’s not always the case.
Die Hard, for example, may have had a pretty basic plot, but who could ever forget the hilarious, profane, and even relatable powerhouse that was Bruce Willis’s John McClane? Completely different film, I know, but still a shame we don’t get anything memorable like that here—or anything memorable at all, for that matter.