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August 3, 2016

A spoiler thread for Star Trek Beyond
Posted by Teresa at 08:02 PM * 42 comments

Is Star Trek Beyond a movie with a good feel for the original show, or a super-sized ST:TOS episode? Is Zachary Quinto’s Spock a grown-up Wonder Twin? And are Jaylah’s facial markings evidence that Star Wars fandom persists in the Star Trek universe?

All this and more.

Comments on A spoiler thread for Star Trek Beyond:
#1 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 09:17 PM:

I used to know (he's dead now) a naval veteran of WW II, name of Bill. Every year at church we celebrate Battle of the Atlantic Sunday (1st Sunday in May). Bill used to bring a picture of the ship he lost. (He'd been a 2nd lieutenant or so, not in command.) A part that rings false is that at the end no one is upset about losing the ship.

The other thing is a nebula as dense as the asteroid belt in the first/fourth Star Wars, with macroscopic chunks grinding against each other. And the ships seem improbably robust to impacts with those objects at high speeds; and rocks on the planet.

I'd say it was heavy on refrigerator logic, so a super-sized TOS episode.

#2 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 10:58 PM:

Oh, this one was fun! I think they've finally hit their stride.

Whatever metal they used for the ships' skin, all of them seem to be tough. Every time they hit something, no matter whether the Enterprise, the pods, or the Franklin -- I winced. And the Yorktown? WOW.

The actors seem comfortable with their characters now, and I continue to marvel at Karl Urban's embodiment of McCoy. I enjoyed the way the plot split the crew up, and gave us a lot more interaction between the characters.

I loved the picture of the original Enterprise crew that was among Ambassador Spock's effects. This episode definitely had the feel of the original show. Pegg's one heck of a writer.

#3 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2016, 11:01 PM:

I think my favourite part was that Kirk might have set a new Starfleet record by crashing the same ship twice in twenty minutes.

Oh, and the whole subplot with McCoy and Spock having conversations. McCoy having lines in general, really. He was shockingly underused in the last one.

#4 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 12:28 AM:

Henry Troup @1: Yes, that was by far the densest asteroid-field-cum-"nebula" I remember seeing.

I grumbled about it, a bit, on the way out of the theatre. Inge told me to shush; "you can't take that sort of thing seriously".

I asked her, "How do you feel about that sharp-metal iliac thing?"

Pause. "I don't want to talk about it."

I enjoyed the movie, on the whole, with some reservations. There were some nice references to earlier Trek stuff. "Scotch? It vas inwented by a little old lady from Moscow." ("Leningrad", in the original.) "I ripped my shirt again..."

How did the holographic image-projector thingies hide the old Federation ship from the bad guys, given that they had originally come from it?

#5 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 09:23 AM:

I enjoyed it in general. It did have the feel of an expanded TOS episode and I rather liked that. It was good that other characters got to interact outside of Kirk. (Maybe that's a form of Star Trek Bechdel Test--do two or more characters have conversations that don't involve Kirk.)

Star Fleet is obviously highly forgiving about crashing star ships.

Hollywood's need to fill space with boulders is silly but ignorable.

Joel Polowin@4:I had the same wondering about the "hidden" ship. Since the bad guys landed it there (presumably), shouldn't they know it is there?

#6 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 09:49 AM:

It was a wild roller coaster ride. It could have been better, but it didn't have me want to throw something at the screen like 2009's movie did. (I skipped "Into Darkness".) It probably helped that Simon Pegg is a trekkie.

I did laugh at the reference to the giant green hand.

#7 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 10:30 AM:

My feelings are that the first hour and half was probably the best Trek movie I'd seen in years (because it felt like a super-sized TOS episode) -- but the last half hour was pretty bad.

The nebula -- I noticed it but could ignore it.
The hidden ship -- I could hand-wave that as them having used escape pods and never going back to the wreckage.

But a) gur gjvfg nobhg gur onq thl gung jnfa'g sberfunqbjrq, b) gur jnl gurl orng gur onqqvrf (frevbhfyl, gur ragver gurngre jnf tebnavat), c) rkcynvavat uvf tvtnagvp syrrg jvgu n bar-yvar guebjnjnl nobhg "qebar grpuabybtl", and d) gur onq thl unq gur pncnpvgl gb qb nyzbfg nyy bs guvf sbe ubj ybat? Naq ur jnvgrq nebhaq sbe gur ZnpThssva juvpu ur unq ab ernfba gb rkcrpg jbhyq rire fubj?

I missed the giant green hand reference...

And yes, Urban makes a great McCoy.

#8 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 10:51 AM:

It was watchable but in a year I will have trouble remembering the difference between this Trek movie and the previous one.

Yes, the previous one had Khan (or a Khan, anyway). But the plot resolution boils down to "surprise twist where bad guy turns out to be a peace-hating Starfleet officer; we return home; Kirk punches problem into submission". It felt reprise-y.

The actors carried it, and I appreciated the scene where the entire crew co-operatively solved their big problem. (Even if their solution was eye-rolling silly.) I enjoyed it. But I enjoyed Ghostbusters more.

#9 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 11:34 AM:

The thing that made it feel most like old Trek for me was the repeated message of optimism, and faith in cooperation.

I liked it. It felt more or less right to me: if it was a supersized TOS episode, at least it didn't feel to me like it was stuffed with filler.

I wouldn't at all mind Jaylah coming back, presumably with some handwaving to make the Academy timeline work.

I laughed when the admiral in the station told Kirk that there was a more advanced ship under construction. "We have your next Enterprise already on order." (And whether or not it was intended as a reference to Star Trek: The Movie, I liked the fast-forwarding through the construction of the new ship at the end.)

I didn't feel that it was 100% successful, but I liked the attempt to show messing around with weird antigravity fields.

Honestly, the thing that wound up bothering me most was how McCoy blithely stole a bottle of good scotch from Chekov's locker.

Andrew Plotkin@8: But I enjoyed Ghostbusters more.

On our way out of the theater our brief, "which film do we want to see again in the theaters?" discussion rapidly converged on Ghostbusters. That was a joyful experience. This felt like a good element of a familiar sequence.

#10 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 11:37 AM:

Craig @ 7... Scottie mentions the giant green hand when someone asks how the Franklin wound up there. I guess that, in this reality too, he got to mourn for Adonais.

#11 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 12:09 PM:

Is it me or did the survivors of the Enterprise's crash completely forget about the death of a few hundreds of their crewmembers?

#12 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 02:12 PM:

No, they didn't forget the dead -- the first toast after "Happy Birthday" to Kirk, is proposed by Kirk:

"To absent friends..."

#13 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 02:26 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 12... True.

#14 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 02:36 PM:

I was very pleased to see Sulu with his family. George Takei has objected, on the grounds that it isn't in accord with "Gene Roddenberry's vision", but on this point I'm inclined to think that Roddenberry was short-sighted. And the new series of movies have taken other and much greater liberties. And I'm not coming up with anything canonical that would suggest that Sulu wasn't gay, or at least bi, apart from his romantic "rescue" of Uhura in "The Naked Time".

A missed opportunity: "Now Spock, if I remember correctly, you Vulcans keep your livers where humans have their hearts." "Doctor, that explains a great deal about my last general physical."

I thought that McCoy was a bit too free with his "My God"s.

#15 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 03:01 PM:

I happened to see it in a theater with "Barco Escape 270 degree Panoramic Screen." This happened by chance as that showing was at the time that worked for me.
It worked fairly well in that it wasn't disruptive and added some prettiness to some large scale scenes.

#16 ::: Devlin du GEnie ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 03:27 PM:

The climax battle kicked me out of the story. I could not believe that the ginormous space habitat had point-to-point transporter booths, but no transporter emergency service for the rest of the station.

This was not helped by seeing Scotty earlier in the story use antique(!) transporter tech to pull people safely out of mid air.

#17 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 03:28 PM:

This alternate Federation seems to have problems with setting up its defenses. In 2009, Starfleet decided to send everything it had to rescue Vulcan, which left San Francisco to be defended only by cadets that had not graduated yet. This time, they set up the biggest starbase ever, and it looked more fragile than the snow globe Scotty compared it to, and there was nary any cannon.

#18 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2016, 04:12 PM:

Joel Polowin @14

Everyone seems to overlook Takei's other (and, to my mind, more serious) objection: that the change retroactively closets TOS Sulu.

TOS Sulu was definitely interested in women, and I've some recollection that Takei had fought for Sulu's love life, as opposed to a more stereotypical sexless math nerd portrayal. He was also fairly, well, flamboyant. Now, in the original telling, I found that a bold and stereotype-breaking choice. Here, though, it lends itself to a negative reading of original-timeline Sulu as a swishy closet case, which... ugly. (A charitable reading is possible, sure, if you assume that he was bi and never closeted and by some magical coincidence the cameras were simply never on when he swept some lad off his feet.)

I haven't been at all impressed with the new movies' handling of Sulu. The folding-space-katana scene in the first movie was just insulting. I guess 1966 audiences could wrap their heads around an Asian guy wanting to be d'Artagnan, but that's just too crazy for 2009 audiences so they had to make sure the Asian guy had an Asian sword and slot him back in the martial-arts-master box?

#19 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 11:59 AM:

Devin @18: TOS Sulu was definitely interested in women

We've got: 1. Three-Musketeers Sulu "rescuing" Uhura in "Naked Time"; 2. evil Sulu hitting on Uhura in "Mirror, Mirror"; 3. animated Sulu "creating" a girl in "The Magicks of Megas-Tu". I don't think that's a really strong record.

Takei says that Roddenberry was sympathetic to the idea of having gay characters but felt that the network and audience wouldn't tolerate it. They had already had serious trouble over the Kirk-Uhura kiss. It seems to me that it wasn't Sulu who was in the closet but the series, so to speak.

As for the new Sulu with a katana... the first new-Trek movie had so many incredibly-stupid things, it would hardly have been fair for Sulu not to have one. :-( I don't even really remember that; I have mostly managed to blot out my memories of that movie. I didn't see the second one.

#20 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 12:14 PM:

Joel, the second movie works IF you realize that it's a re-framing of "Space Seed" not "Wrath of Khan." The film-makers are ringing changes on the original and use things from TOS to heighten the tension, and, in some cases, tease the viewer. Plus, at the end of the film, they put Khan and his crew back on ice...

As for Sulu being gay in the latest installment and having a partner and child, it's the fastest and easiest way to get the viewer invested in the fate of the Yorktown.

#21 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 01:30 PM:

(Declaration of biases: I am caucasian and quite straight. I'm told that my poly/bi friends consider me remarkably accepting for someone who totally fails to match their orientation. I think I'm somewhat less accepting than they believe, but I also think it's really important to be aware of my own biases and to try to correct them when appropriate. I also think that it's important to try to correct unhealthy biases in society as a whole. Hence: "Semi-major character is shown to be gay? Good. About time.")

#22 ::: Mark Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 03:02 PM:

dotless @9: "Honestly, the thing that wound up bothering me most was how McCoy blithely stole a bottle of good scotch from Chekov's locker."

This was the start of a serious case of whiplash. Between the fact that McCoy took the scotch from Chekov's locker, and the fact that they filled a third glass and clinked against it, I took this as a memorial for Anton Yelchin *and* Chekov, and assumed he'd be absent. Imagine my surprise when he showed up on the bridge as usual. Can someone explain what the drink was about, if Chekov is still alive and on duty?

#23 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 04:15 PM:

Joel Polowin @19

I can't say that I've watched more than an episode or two of the original since I was a kid, honestly, so I'm kind of leaning on secondary sources and a bit of headcanon here. Which is to say, I expect you're right and he was only into anybody three times... but that's still three women* and zero men.

I'm also 100% with you on "semi-major character shown to be gay," as well as "Starfleet officer is lad's man." Both of those are long overdue. (Barring DS9, I think? Which I didn't watch... But we can still count it as overdue if it's not the very first time, right?)

There are two things that bug me pretty hard about this specific choice, though:

1. The closeted-at-the-time gay man who played the character objects to his retroactive closeting and a bunch of mostly-straight guys working on the movie completely ignore the objection. (In favor of responding to his comments about "Roddenberry's vision," where I tend to agree with Pegg et al.)

2. The new movies have been pretty shitty to Sulu and something about this just kinda rubbed me wrong in a way I can't quite put my finger on. Partly I just didn't trust them not to make it idiotic, partly I think it seemed like they were leaning towards George Takei instead of the character he played, maybe? Like they were trying to leverage Takei's public persona instead of actually developing the character?

*Okay, two women I guess, but since two different Sulus both went for Uhura that does kinda suggest that being attracted to Uhura is a pretty basic thing for Sulu, not a function of a long relationship or a sudden revelation.

#24 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2016, 04:59 PM:

re 22: The third glass was for Kirk's father.

#25 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 09:24 PM:

Mark Bernstein@22: Yes! I eventually decided that it was for George Kirk, as C. Wingate says; but it took a while, because part of my brain was going "If they took the scotch, does that mean Chekov is dead? But Yelchin finished the film, didn't he? Or maybe it's a stealth memorial for Yelchin. But..."

#26 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2016, 10:50 PM:

dotless i @25: Yes, Yelchin completed the film -- he's among those at the birthday party.

If you didn't stay through all the credits you would have missed the title card in the credits which said "For Anton." It followed an 'in memoriam' for Leonard Nimoy.

#27 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2016, 09:09 AM:

I am unabashedly a fan, and while I understand all of the problems of closeted-to-out and whatever, as a bi woman who has always loved Star Trek, I cried when I saw Sulu hug his husband.

I have seen interviews that state that the third glass was originally intended as a tribute to Kirk's father, but also became a tribute to Anton when it was filmed. (

#28 ::: canisfelicis ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2016, 02:26 PM:

cyllan@27 , I cried too. It's a relief, somehow--seeing queer Asian characters, even if I have complicated "of COURSE it's the Asian guy" feelings.

#29 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2016, 07:24 PM:

More of a super-sized TOS episode than a good movie, especially in the way so many crucial points were worked out just in time for the climactic battle scene. I nearly got in car crashes driving out of the parking lot as the backlog of, "Wait... What?!" moments played themselves out in the light of day.

Couldn't it both be fun AND make some kind of sense?

#30 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2016, 10:56 PM:

I really enjoyed it, overall. There were a few moments of "wait, what?" (particularly: I wouldn't have thought that turbolifts would be vacuum rated) but nothing that was any stupider than has appeared in an actual Star Trek TV show. It got the feeling down, especially for the themes of hope and striving to be better. There were some nice shout outs to the fans, but it never felt fanservicey to me.

However, I really, really, really, really wish that the bad guy had not been a big, scary black guy who at times definitely showed rather gorilla-like movements. That was... unfortunate. And preventable.

#31 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2016, 08:24 AM:

Re: the stolen Scotch

The only way it makes sense is if you assume that the bottle is contraband that Chekov was against regulations to have been holding, and that by not officially bringing him up on charges for it and just snatching the Scotch they're going easy on him. That's the only way the scene hangs together for me.

#32 ::: Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2016, 04:43 PM:

(1) Besides the ridiculously rock-crowded "nebula," when they got to the planet, the space behind it seemed normal, like perhaps they just shoulda gone around?

(2) No way does Kirk avoid a court-martial for the loss of his ship *and* what must've been a great many of its crew. May've had a positive conclusion, but AFAIK a court-martial is standard procedure for the loss of a ship.

(3) Hive/swarm thingies are a pretty obvious danger - even if they don't exist, they're theoretically possible. Why does Starfleet apparently have no provision for defending against them?

... Don't get me wrong, I liked the flick & it was nowhere near as painfully dumb as Into Darkness. It was happily dumb in the time-honored TOS fashion.

#33 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 02:41 PM:

Anderson, 1) they wanted something more threatening than the misty Mutara Nebula from Wrath of Khan -- thus we get the crunchy granola version here.

2) What saved Kirk and his officers careers at the court-martial was their heroic actions to protect the Yorktown, and the finding of the long-missing Franklin.

3) An intelligent enemy is aware of the holes in a potential target's defenses -- having the bad guy be a former Starfleet captain it's hardly surprising that he took advantage of this. Should they have known? Probably -- I'd blame a failure of imagination on the Federation's part.

#34 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2016, 06:45 PM:

Usually the munitions industry workers of a Swarm Culture are impossible to suborn, so it's very unusual to win a war with such a culture through Sabotage.

#35 ::: Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2016, 04:53 PM:

33: agreed, Lori; I meant more like, there would have *been* a court-martial, and that got glossed over I thought.

#36 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2016, 05:49 PM:

Went into this with "eh" expectations, and ended up enjoying it.

This might be the only New Trek movie that Roddenberry might kinda-sorta recognize as being descended from his show.

All the loud-flash-smashy stuff, battles and asteroid belts and things crashing, is pretty much expected in a big action film. About two thirds of the way through I thought: "Kirk is going to end up in a fist-fight with that Krall guy."

If this entry was another eye-roller like the last, I'd give up on the new films. This has me interested again.

#37 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 01:40 AM:

All of this talk of whether it was "really" a film or just another episode of TOS reminds me of my wistful yearning for a Trek movie that would serve as one more episode.
If I had known about British TV practices, I'd have been wishing for a Christmas episode.

#38 ::: cg eye ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 07:41 AM:

I depend on Star Trek Continues for that old-skool feel -- but I, too, was surprised that the bridge crew didn't act like they were 13 and taking Ritalin. Also appreciated the fewer lens flares.

As for Krall? As said above, lots of refrigerator logic to ignore, from having a space station with frak-all defenses (including patrol ships and strong deflectors) to being so dang picky about his genocidal weapons, when that drone defense alone is devastating enough. Still wonder what happened to all those other ship crews under Krall's control -- did his crew eat them all?

Also, we have to get used to this Kelvin universe's humans being so darn resilient as to not mourn significant losses of people -- oh, sure, Spock's allowed, but humans don't mourn non-speaking parts, do they? *sigh*

#39 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2016, 11:59 AM:

That green energy hand in the closing credits... I wonder if that was a teaser for the next movie, just as the Marvel movies do? All of the weird encounters of the original series are still out there, for the Enterprise or some other Federation ship to encounter.

"Captain, I've just received this week's Fleet activity summary."

"Excellent! Any highlights, Uhura?"

"Two giant space amoebas. Captain --"

"Two more giant space amoebas?!"


"Good lord. Sorry, please continue."

"Captain Merik of the Beagle reports finding a civilization that's exactly like a mid-20th-century Roman empire. And Captain Tracey of the Exeter discovered a civilization that... it's exactly like if the mid-20th-century "cold war" between the American States and the Russian and Chinese empires had gone hot. Right down to "Yang"-kees and "Kohm"-unists, and the American flag of that era."



"Okay, Spock, I've changed my mind. You were right. There must be someone fudging things; this can't all be coincidences."

#40 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2016, 05:42 PM:

#39 ::: Joel Polowin I thought the Giant Green Hand in the end credits was a reference to the TOS episode Serge mentioned back at #10. Interesting if they remade that episode next, too!

I think Simon Pegg's credentials were also well established by the saucer-separating Enterprise (in the TOS background, never used in the series) and the seatbelt on the Captain's chair. I read about that stuff back when I was knee high to a plot twist.

#41 ::: Michael R. Johnston ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2016, 10:35 PM:

@Devin, #18: Sulu wielding a foil in "The Naked Time" is certainly more iconic a memory, but he wielded a katana in "Day of the Dove." So there is at least some canonical reference to him using both blades.

#42 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2016, 08:54 PM:

We took Mom to see it today. I managed to establish local vertical BEFORE the film started and did not get motion sick THIS time.

The film plays even better on second view. The actors now -are- the characters, and I get the feeling that Chris Pine has been watching episodes from TOS, there are faint suggestions of some of Shatner's tics.

All in all -- it was great fun. Definitely getting the DVD and soundtrack.

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