‘Beyond’ as a Rebuke of ‘Into Darkness’


startrekbeyondposterThere were two things very clear to me after I saw Star Trek Beyond last night. One, that movie is freaking amazing. And two, it is was definitely a rebuke of Into Darkness, whether it was intentional or not.

Now, before I go into this, you don’t have to research very far into my writings to know that I wrote a fairly positive review of Into Darkness. But you don’t have to look much further to see that that afterglow wore off very quickly.

That being said, while I had a little doubt about whether I would enjoy Into Darkness a second time, I have no such worries with Beyond. I will always love this movie because it was everything Into Darkness tried to trick me into believing it was.

Into Darkness told me the movie was about the crew but not showing it. It made me think it was a film reveling in Trekkie canon with shallow references. They were all smoke and mirrors, and their illusions are shown to be just that in the light of Beyond.

In Into Darkness, much ado is made about “doing anything for your crew”, but the movie just followed Kirk and Spock around being action stars. The crew, while there were some notable highlights (Sulu in the captain’s chair will always get bonus points with me), were essentially accessories to the movie.

Beyond is… well… way beyond that.

Throughout the movie, we see each member of the crew competently getting shit done toward a mutually shared goal that never discussed: the survival of the whole crew. A Captain’s Log at the beginning detailing their relationships over the last three years of isolation in space really hits their closeness home. Their actions all beautifully weave together to create a plot that is believable solely because the crew knows how to work together without actually being together.

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After all, it was why they were sent to the planet they were sent to. It wasn’t because the Enterprise had the best technology. No. It had the best crew, and nothing was more evident than that as their world came crashing down around them in a matter of seconds.

Khan’s words of “Is there anything you’d not do for family?” cling to every action by every character in Beyond that was only evident for Kirk in Into Darkness.

In my review of Into Darkness, I said

The movie basically groveled at my feet, and offered me inside jokes and canonical references to appease any wrath I may have had towards story.

But I hadn’t realized how shallow all that was were until I saw Beyond. Beyond had very little in the way of references and inside jokes. Yes, it mentioned the Xindi, the Mako, and introduced an ancestor of Admiral Paris, but it was all in such subtle ways that the Trekkies in the opening crowd barely noticed (but thank you for the Enterprise references, that poor series needs a little more credit than it gets).

The strength of Beyond however was not in trying to recycle old jokes and old emotions from the old days of TOS, but rather give us a whole new experience along the same lines of what we love. When people tell you that Beyond was a real Star Trek experience, this is what they mean. They mean they got a new story that felt Roddenberry-esque, but still fresh. It involved diplomacy, understanding alien cultures, and self-criticism. It had adventure elements without relying too heavily on action, gut-wrenching tensions, and strong characters. The music even hearkened back to old 70s TV soundtracks but was still modern (with a few throwbacks to JJ Abrams’ love for the Beastie Boys)..

In short, it was the reboot movie Star Trek fans have been agitating for, and in doing so, it gently rejected many of the precedents Into Darkness had tried to set.

Oh, and random bonus. Women get to have rank on their uniforms now. So, yeah. Fuck yeah, Beyond.

Thank you Simon Pegg, Doug Jung, and Justin Lin. Just thank you.

 


The Unsung Hero of ‘Star Wars’


Nearly everything I knew about ‘Star Wars’ is changing (thanks to the old cannon being summarily delegitimatized) so I thought I’d go back and start with Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The official, unchangeable canon is not my favorite part of the canon, so I’m not going to lie… this was the first time I had watched it since it came out in theater sixteen years ago.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that if I go cook my dinner during most of the Annakin scenes, I actually like this movie quite a bit. I also realized while watching it that I had my heroes in ‘Star Wars’ all wrong.

Well, not really. My heroes are still my heroes, even if it means I have to file Kit Fisto  under the-most-disappointing-death-of-all-time. I mean, come on. That dude takes on General Grievous, but gets killed three seconds into a 4-1 fight against Palapatine? Seriously, Fisto? I believed in you…

Just look at this cheeky motherfucker...
Just look at this cheeky motherfucker… How could you not love him?

If a look past most of the gross things that fanon does to Leia, she tops my list of heroes too. Same thing for Padmé. And of course, you’ll never find a bigger Obi-Wan trash than me. I’m such trash that I even read the Jedi Apprentice series (which should be called the Qui-Gon-Jin-is-a-bit-of-a-dick series), and those books are at a seventh grade reading level. I did it for Obi-Wan, I would do it again, and I will not be ashamed. Too bad (or maybe thankfully) they aren’t probably canon anymore…. but I digress…

As I rewatched The Phantom Menace, I discovered there is a character I admire even more than those four. She is literally at the very center of the movieand plays crucial roles in fighting against Palapatine. In fact, she’s in the movie almost as much as Padmé.

Yet we never talk to about her at all.

I’m of course talking about the decoy queen, Sabé, who fakes out the Viceroy in the middle of a goddamn war.

Sabeandpadme
“Okay… so, I’ll probably die doing this….”

I’m not sure why we forget about Sabé. Perhaps it’s because she looks so similar to Padme, and mimics her throughout the film. After all, we are never sure who is who for the majority of the movie, so you wouldn’t realize it was a different person until you rewatched it.

But still, why do we forget about Sabé?

She is forced into the most dangerous position: to pretend being a queen on the run who has to make command decisions while protecting the real queen. She not only has to make decisions at Queen Amidala which have unbelievable diplomatic weight, but has to try and interpret what the real Amidala intentions through nonverbal communication, all the while knowing that she is there solely to move the target to her back- that she could be killed at any moment.

Then, if that was not enough, when they retake the palace after the invasion, Sabé willingly puts on the mask of Queen Amidala once again, and distracts their enemies who chase after her. She certainly knew that would likely be her death, and she did it anyway.Thankfully, we see her at the celebration afterward, so we know she survived, but… geez….

How amazing is Sabé that she would continue to risk her life like that without recognition of her efforts?

sabekcikingbutt
Beating the Viceroy while wearing heavy clothes and a headdress. Yeah girl. Get it.

She is truly the real hero of the movie, and I would have loved to read a book completely from her point of view, where she tries to remain stolid while her emotions are certain wrecking her from the inside out. She must have been filled with fear of doing the wrong thing as she does not have Amidala’s ambassadorial experience, or being killed any second. Even more terrifying is the idea that her ruse will be discovered, and her beloved queen will suffer for it as much as she would.

I can imagine a woman in turmoil, feeling embittered that such a burden should fall onto her, but desperate to carry the weight for a leader she loves. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I realize I care about what she’s thinking and feeling than anyone else in the movie.

Except Obi-Wan Kenobi. But again, I’m Kenobi-trash, so that’s just going to be priority number one anyway. But still, to me in her short amount of screentime, I feel she is more complicated, and interesting than Annakin’s desire for power, or Qui-Gon Jinn’s… what was his motivation again? Just be a good jedi? Ugh, boring.

So…. Disney? Can we have a book about her, please? I’ll volunteer as tribute if you need someone to write it.