by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Caution: Contains spoilers.
Star Trek is one of my favorite franchises; from TV shows to movies, the various evolutions of the story are entertaining, meaningful and thought-provoking. Star Trek: Beyond is receiving all kinds of critical acclaim for having all of these qualities, and for the most part, it deserves them.
This is a pretty good movie…as long as you pretend that you know absolutely nothing about physics whatsoever. I know—sci-fI—but this is super light on the SCI and heavy on the FI. There are some funny lines, some predictable advancements in the plot, and a moral that (to me) felt a bit contrived. It was a good moral—important now more than ever—but felt a little forced. It didn’t help that I got misty every time Chekov came on the scene, becoming sad all over again at the tragic passing of Anton Yelchin a short time ago.
Here’s the gist of it: The Enterprise takes some much-needed respite on a space station after being in space for a long time. Captain Kirk is trying to figure out if this whole captain thing is really for him, Spock has broken up with Uhura because he’s thinking that he should keep the Vulcan line going. The crew are getting some “shore leave,” giving them an opportunity to see folks besides the ones they had been cooped up with, Sulu spends some time with his husband and daughter who live on the station, Spock discovers that alternate dimension Spock has passed away, causing him to contemplate whether he should take on the diplomatic duties that other dimension Spock had been engaged in.
In the middle of all this, an alien science officer makes an emergency landing and pleads for help in recovering her crew from a planet in a difficult-to-reach area. The Enterprise is the best-suited ship for the mission, and Kirk volunteers.
In the immortal words of Admiral Akbar: “It’s a trap!” The crew are taken by Krall, who feeds upon their energy to stay alive. He has what appears to be an insurmountable hive-like army that shreds ships. He is looking for a piece of an artifact that is on the Enterprise, that when united with its other pieces becomes a horrifyingly destructive weapon.
The crew in containment do their best to prevent him from getting it, but when members are threatened, the one who had the artifact gives it up to save her crewmate. Bad choice. Krall mocks them, saying that they are weak because they value unity in diversity. They get some help from an alien who had been stranded on the planet since Krall captured and killed her people. (He has a habit of doing that.)
It turns out that Krall is actually a Star Fleet captain who was stranded and believed that he was ignored and left to die. Naturally, they just didn’t know where he was. He forgot his own identity and became Krall as he was separated from any kind of society for a really, really long time.
Some Themes for Discussion
- The bad guys in the last couple of Star Trek movies were really created by the United Federation of Planets and Star Fleet. How do we sometimes contribute to the pain of others? How can our actions help or hurt the way the people in our lives make decisions?
- Krall lost his sense of self when he thought that he was abandoned. Kirk was losing his sense of self while being without a planetary home for a very long time. How does isolation affect people? How can a lack of grounding change our outlook and behaviors?
- The United Federation of Planets and all Star Fleet crews are made up of peoples of very different planets—some are even put on ships with people who would normally be their enemy. How can a community, family, church, or country be unified while still being diverse?
- Why would diversity be a benefit to a group?
- The crew of the Enterprise made sure that no one was left behind when escaping Krall. Why is it important to look out for the welfare of all people?
- Kirk, Spock and Krall all were struggling with their identities. How does being part of a community help you know who you are? How does knowing who you are help you to make better decisions?
Parents should be aware that there were intense action scenes, a few people were killed, and there was a terrorist-style attack in the movie. See the review at Common Sense Media for a full run-down of potential red flags.