Star Trek Beyond — a review

It appears that Comic Con didn't go as well as they had hoped.

It appears that Comic Con didn’t go as well as they had hoped.

Imagine my surprise, when watching Star Trek Beyond, that it wound up being an extremely well-made, enjoyable movie. That probably doesn’t sound very fair, as if I went into the movie with very low expectations, but consider the evidence. The previous Star Trek film, Into Darkness, just wasn’t very good on so many levels. Aside from being a very badly done remake of the far superior Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Into Darkness just didn’t “get it” when it came to the Star Trek characters, particularly Kirk, played here by Chris Pine.

There was a scene in Into Darkness where Kirk found himself completely flummoxed by an enemy ship that wiped out the Enterprise’s engines and weapons systems. As the Enterprise sat there, helpless, while the enemy charged up its main guns to wipe them out, Kirk turned to the bridge crew and said that he was sorry for letting them down.

The Captain Kirk that I grew up with on the original Star Trek series, played by the charismatic William Shatner, was a fighter. I don’t mean that he was a soldier, or a warrior (which Kirk himself once freely admitted to being), but a fighter in the sense that when the chips were down, Kirk just kept right on going. When it looked like the entire universe was out to get him, James T. Kirk could be counted on to damn the torpedoes and keep sailing right onward. He would never just give up, and that was why I found the quick and easy surrender of Chris Pine’s Kirk so disheartening.

Aye, I see the problem now. And you say his name is King Kong?

Aye, I see the problem now. And you say his name is King Kong?

Apparently, the writers and the director of Star Trek Beyond “got it”, because the Kirk that’s presented here in their film is far more the fighter who’s willing to take ballsy risks, just like Shatner’s Kirk did. It’s no spoiler that the Enterprise goes down (and in spectacular fashion, in a scene that’s thrilling to watch), leaving the crew stranded on an alien planet where they’re kept caged by Krall (Idris Elba), a warlord who seeks to pick a fight with the Federation. The crew members who are still on the loose, like Scotty (Simon Pegg, who co-wrote the script) are being ruthlessly hunted down–but in Scotty’s case, he comes across Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) an alien woman who gives him shelter in a very unlikely place.

Star Trek Beyond is easily the best of the JJ Abrams-produced Trek films, which began with the Star Trek film reboot back in 2009. While the first two films were directed by Abrams, Beyond is directed by Justin Lin, who makes this Trek voyage an assured, confident ride that is just as comfortable dealing in character issues as it is in the broad action scenes. Lin is a confirmed Star Trek fan, and it shows in his lovingly staged shots of the Enterprise in motion, some of which are almost works of art in their own right. It’s rare to see CGI being used so well in movies, and Beyond is one of those films where the effects shine very brightly without overpowering the story.

The cast is also very good, with the stand-outs being Karl Urban as the ever grumpy Dr. McCoy, who’s partnered on the planet with Zachary Quinto’s injured Spock. Their chemistry is superb. And Sofia Boutella is a welcome addition as the engagingly feisty Jaylah. It’s also very bittersweet seeing the late Anton Yelchin here, doing his customary splendid job as the affable Chekov. Star Trek Beyond is a fitting film to be released during the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek, not just because of its adoring tributes to the original cast that are sprinkled throughout its story, but also for reviving the essence that made Star Trek work so well that it lasted for half a century and hopefully beyond. –SF

The USS Intrepid –a kitbashed starship model

The Intrepid, the most intrepid of ships.

The Intrepid, the most intrepid of ships.

I have a new Star Trek kitbash model done. It’s the USS Intrepid.

It originally had four engines on the back; I closed up the center engine section to create more leg room.

It originally had four engines on the back; I closed up the center engine section to create more leg room.

It was originally an Enterprise-B model kit, but I got rid of the secondary hull and the neck and put the main warp engines directly under the saucer.

The 'Fins' on the engines can be used to scrape the paint off of any enemy ships.

The ‘Fins’ on the engines can be used to scrape the paint off of any enemy ships. Just kidding.

I used the model’s shuttle bay section by putting it on the bottom of the saucer. The piece that goes behind the shuttle bay entrance is a piece from my spares box.

I also built a handy stand for the ship.

I also built a handy stand for the ship.

The “radar” dish in the back was also taken from the spares box–it’s from a larger scale USS Enterprise. I also moved the torpedo launcher to the top of the rear superstructure, so the ship will have some added punch.

The Intrepid races to put out another "fire" that's sprung up.

The Intrepid races to put out another “fire” that’s sprung up.

I imagine this ship to be a specialized, short range craft that could do longer range missions if required. –SF

The USS Mystic — a kitbashed starship from Star Trek

The USS Mystic

The USS Mystic

So one day I was looking at my model kit of the NSEA Protector, the starship from the fun flick Galaxy Quest, and realizing that, as much as I loved the movie, I really had no desire to build this model of the ship.

She's been known to make the kessel run in faster than 12 parsecs!

She’s been known to make the kessel run in faster than 12 parsecs!

I was thinking about putting it up for sale online, and had even thought about just throwing it out. But then I saw that I also had an un-built model of the USS Enterprise-C, from Star Trek, it gave me an idea.

Available for diplomatic missions, special rescue assignments and for slapping the crap out of the Romulans.

Available for diplomatic missions, special rescue assignments and for slapping the crap out of the Romulans.

Why not combine the two ships into one? Build the Enterprise-C, but give her the engines from the Protector. The result is the USS Mystic, a test bed that the Federation build for a completely new engine system.

The pool and spa areas are available for use to everybody...except the rotten Romulans.

The pool and spa areas are available for use to everybody…except the rotten Romulans.

Because it’s an experimental ship, it has the designation NX-3000. The USS Excelsior had NX-2000, so I thought I’d raise it by a thousand.

"Let's see what's out there..."

“Let’s see what’s out there…”

I like the new look. The Protector’s engine section makes this starship look like it wants to soar.

"To boldly go..."

“To boldly go…”

The lighted areas of the ship you see the in last two photos were ‘lit’ in Corel Photo Paint. –SF

My scratch-built/kit-bashed Klingon Ship

Back about six or seven years ago, I decided to take the plunge into scratch-building model kits with this ship.

Klingon warship, circa mid 22nd century.

Klingon warship, circa mid 22nd century.

The main body is a plastic pill bottle, the neck was taken from parts from a 1/48 fighter (I think it was the transmission).

The base was also scratch-built

The base was also scratch-built

The front hull, along with the main engines and the superstructure on top of the main body were all scratch-built by me.

Apoxie sculpt was used here, as well as some bits and pieces from the parts box.

Apoxie sculpt was used here, as well as some bits and pieces from the parts box.

I was trying to create an early version of the Klingon warship that might have been seen in Star Trek: Enterprise. It looks a little rough–I would now use something other than a bottle because it was made of soft plastic–but it still holds up nicely.

Steer clear of the exhaust!

Steer clear of the exhaust!

And that big red impulse drive engine on the back? That’s a cap from a deodorant container. Always use whatever you got on hand!

Qapla' man!

Qapla’ man!

The USS Seer–a starship with a big dish

The USS Seer "sees" you.

The USS Seer “sees” you.

I reworked a 1/1000th scale model kit of the USS Enterprise into the USS Seer, a long range scanning vessel that can pick up stuff from really far away, thanks to the big dish on its back.

No tribbles allowed.

No tribbles allowed.

I cut off the neck between the saucer section and the lower body, and then lowered the pylons to the twin engines so that they stuck straight out. I figured the dish would be so powerful, that the ship that carried it would be reconfigured so its normal operations wouldn’t interfere with the dish.

We can hear the flapping of a butterfly's wings...from across the galaxy.

We can hear the flapping of a butterfly’s wings…from across the galaxy.

Since I dropped the saucer, there was no room for the regular deflector dish, so I placed it on the edge of the saucer itself.

To boldly eavesdrop where no man has eavesdropped before….

To boldly eavesdrop where no man has eavesdropped before….

I figure this was used during the Prime Kirk era.

The USS Dauntless

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I completed another model kit, this one a kitbash of the Enterprise-C.

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The Dauntless is my third model of this class vessel, and I always painted the hull white. This time I decided to paint it in Winter Blue, which shows up in all the pictures as…white. Go figure!

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She’s a heavy cruiser meant for boarder patrol, spacestation defense, and all around scout-class vessel.

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With twin torpedo launchers on both ends of the saucer, she can deal with any threat that comes along. Lean and mean. Just how it should be.

Star Trek Enterprise NX-01 Refit Ship

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I was in the mood to just build something straight out of the box, so I built this NX-01 model kit from Star Trek: Enterprise.

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It’s a small kit, but still nicely detailed. There’s a new secondary hull underneath the saucer section. The series took place about a hundred years before the Kirk era, and this new design is supposed to reflect moving towards that result.

02

I decided to make a “scene” with the ship by blackening out the background and drawing in stars. And presto: instant outer space scene.

space

The USS Chatham on patrol

I build model kits to sell, and recently I built a Star Trek starship for a client that required me to use one of the engines from a USS Reliant model that I had in storage. This worked out well, but it left me with a starship kit with only one engine. What to do? I did this:

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She’s the USS Chatham, a single engine short range starship that’s built to protect planets or spacestations.

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I was pleasantly surprised at how easily this ship adapted to being a single engine vessel. I took the torpedo bay from the Reliant roll bar section and placed it on the forward saucer.

09

She can’t stand up on her own, so I slapped together a U-shaped stand out of styrene sheet.

space

The Chatham goes to full warp as she investigates reports of a Klingon raider ship in her sector.