Sunday, July 31, 2016     Volume: 17, Issue: 21
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
HILLARY’S AMERICA: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE
JASON BOURNE
NERVE
THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

Take flight!

STAR TREK BEYOND

PHOTO BY PHOTOS COURTESY OF BAD ROBOT

STAR TREK BEYOND


Where is it playing?: Sunset Drive-In, Downtown Centre, Park, Stadium 10, Galaxy

What's it rated?: PG-13

What's it worth?: $Full price (Anna)

What's it worth?: $Full price (Glen)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Justin Lin (The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6) directs the third installment of the rebooted Star Trek series starring Chris Pine as Capt. James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Commander Spock, Karl Urban as Dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy, Zoe Saldana as Lt. Uhura, Simon Pegg as Montgomery ‘Scott’ Scott, John Cho as Sulu, and Anton Yelchin as Chekov. This time around, the crew of the USS Enterprise encounters an unstoppable alien attack that forces them to abandon ship to a planet controlled by a dangerous new enemy. (120 min.)

GLEN As a big fan of the original 1960s TV series, I’ve been thrilled by the rebooted films starting with the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek (2009) and his follow-up Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). I never felt that all the offshoots like The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine lived up to the groundbreaking original, and likewise, the film franchise seemed to peak in 1982 with the Wrath of Khan. Naturally, I was looking forward to Star Trek Beyond, though I was a little worried that without Abrams at the helm the series might go off the rails, especially since I’m not a fan of the Fast and Furious films, which are what Lin’s been doing since 2006. Well, I’m happy to report Star Trek Beyond is awesome! It’s a ripping good yarn that delves into the toll space travel can take on one’s psyche as well as an examination of the nature of humanity—are we cooperative or inherently warlike? The film’s also got more humor that its predecessors, co-written this time by Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End). I think it helps if you have some background with the series and know, for instance, about the antagonistic relationship between Bones and Spock, but judging from my wife’s reaction—she’s never seen any of the TV series or films—even a Star Trek virgin can enjoy this ride.

ANNA It’s true; my knowledge of all things Star Trek is pretty much limited to knowing they’re in space on the Starship Enterprise, Spock is the pointy-eared “live long and prosper” guy, and that it must take some serious self-assurance to pull off that uniform. I don’t really go for sci-fi, thus why I never put any effort into the Star Trek universe. Luckily I didn’t need to do any prep work to catch up with the story where I jumped in, no matter how late to the game I was. I’m a fan of Pegg, and his wit comes through in the dialogue, giving this epically action-packed space adventure a fair amount of humor, something this type of film so often lacks. Often these big movies rely so much on CGI and over-the-top action, and don’t get me wrong, Beyond has more than its fair share of that, but it also has a solid script and well-rounded, relatable characters. I’m not about to marathon the series or start designing my Comic-Con costume, but my first dip into this particular series of movies was a success! I may even watch the previous two if they happen to be on TV.

GLEN I’m guessing there are at least two more films coming in this series. The crew is about three years into its five-year mission to explore the outer reaches of space. The film opens on a comic note as Kirk is trying to broker a truce between two alien species by presenting one with a gift from the other. It’s an ancient artifact that presumably was part of a weapon, and the goodwill offering is meant to represent trust, though unfortunately the recipients don’t see it that way. “Why don’t they want it anymore?” one asks suspiciously. The theme of finding ways to coexist goes all the way back to the original series: the noble idea of tolerance. There’s a really sweet nod to George Takei, who originally played Sulu and is a proud gay man, when the new Sulu arrives at a space station for leave and is greeted by his husband and their little girl. One of the things I loved about the original series was its constant push against societal boundaries. An episode called “Plato’s Stepchildren” from 1968 featured American TV’s first interracial kiss between a white man (Kirk) and a black woman (Uhura). No big deal today, but NBC almost didn’t air the episode, fearing it would anger Southern TV stations. Star Trek Beyond portrayed Sulu’s gay marriage as no big deal, which is as it should be. Social taboos are best broken when they’re wrapped in humorous, action-packed, entertainment like this film. This one’s definitely worth seeing on the big screen. It’s a blast!

ANNA The cast worked really well together; if they didn’t have it before, they definitely found their groove in this film. Sadly, any further films will have a new actor because Yelchin, who plays Chekov, died earlier this year in a freak accident. The banter between Capt. Kirk and Bones is particularly amusing, as is the exasperated but ultimately loving relationship between Bones and Spock. Scotty is running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and in general is always just one step away from mortal peril. You can tell that both the director and writers for Beyond have a deep affinity and respect for the original series, not only staying true to the characters as they were back then, but by honoring the actors themselves. Besides the great nod to Takei, the film is dedicated to Leonard Nimoy, and a photo of the original cast is in the very last scene of the film. Even if you’re like me, a newbie to the Trekkie life, Star Trek Beyond is a fun ride that keeps the backstory uncomplicated enough and focuses on a well-rounded set of characters and an interesting storyline in which good triumphs over evil once again.

Split Screen is written by Staff Writer Glen Starkey and his wife, Anna. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.