Star Trek Beyond promises us one thing going in, a departure from J. J. Abrams’ direction. It of course delivers more, but my main concern was what kind of adventure are we in store for? For too long now I hear complaints from longtime Trekkies upset over the direction of the first two films. Most notably, many dismiss the second film as blasphemy. Rightfully so, but as a new fan to Star Trek I find myself quite fond of Into Darkness (review here). However, with Star Trek Beyond longtime Trekkies are singing songs of praise about this one. From what I hear, they love how closely it reminds them of the old television series. Therein lies the problem for me, but more about that down below.
Star Trek Beyond officially becomes the thirteenth film in the Star Trek franchise, and third in the reboot fashion. It logically follows the events in 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. However, this time out the main difference is the fact that Justin Lin inhabits the director’s chair. Justin Lin is no stranger to action movie fans having done four Fast & Furious films. So rest assure that you’re in good hands here in the action department. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho and Anton Yelchin all return. However, Star Trek Beyond marks one of the final film appearances for Yelchin. He sadly died in a car accident a month ago. Legendary Star Trek veteran Leonard Nimoy also passed away during pre-production of this film. Newcomers to Star Trek Beyond include Pacific Rim‘s Idris Elba and Kingsman‘s Sofia Boutella.
Star Trek Beyond has only officially been out for three days now, and so far the film is a winner. Not only has the box office number been strong, but the film reviews well with the populous. Moviegoers praise the movie for its performances, stunning visual effects and its tributes to Yelchin and Nimoy. When we last left the crew of the USS Enterprise they were to embark on a five-year voyage. In Star Trek Beyond we pick up three years into this voyage. The crew briefly stops at Starbase Yorktown to replenish supplies and partake in some much needed R&R. Yes, this is where we learn about Sulu’s (Cho) um…sexuality. It’s also where we see James T. Kirk (Pine) having the same old conundrum. He’s still trying to find himself, escape his father’s shadow and discover what makes him tick. Yawn, right?
Don’t fret because it’s not all about James T. Kirk. Spock (Quinto) and Uhura (Saldana) are up to their marital-like spats and Scotty (Pegg) is cracking us up as usual. The rest break does not last long. Before we know it Kalara (Lydia Wilson) appears and tells of her stranded ship’s troubles. To help her out the crew of the USS Enterprise agree to fly in uncharted space through the nebula. Beware! The rescue attempt is actually an ambush. As you see in the film’s trailers, massive swarms of ships, led by Krall (Elba), tear the Enterprise apart. The ship crashes to a planet, surviving crew are round up like cattle and James needs to find himself quickly. You picking up what I’m dropping? Only teamwork is going to save the day now.
Before seeing it this past Friday Brandon Peters texted me saying how much he loves it and hopes I will. I should have taken that text with more concern. However, I knew he was just being friendly and thoughtful. After experiencing Star Trek Beyond for the first time I realized how much DNA it shares with Iron Man 3. Sadly, Iron Man 3 is one of my least favorite Marvel films. Knowing that doesn’t bode well for Star Trek Beyond for me then, huh? No, it does not. It’s that all is broke and make something out of scraps that makes Beyond feel like Iron Man 3. That’s not a bad thing, but come on. This is a Star Trek film. I want space adventures, not a film stuck on a terrestrial planet. The story felt grounded and that’s a bad thing for me when we are talking science fiction, but I digress.
It feels funny complaining about the terrestrial aspect of Beyond. That’s because the opening alien planet scene was among my favorite in the last film. The whole disintegration of the USS Enterprise so early on in this one bothers me too. It feels like a cheap rehash of Into Darkness. It was too much, too soon for me. The other aspect of Star Trek Beyond, which I found lackluster, were the characters of Krall and Jaylah (Boutella). The latter’s performance was nothing compared to how iconic and exceptional she was in Kingsman: Secret Service. I want more from her than this shallow, undeveloped character we were given here. I just can’t put my finger on it just yet, but Krall did absolutely nothing for me. Perhaps another viewing on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is in order for me. I felt no sympathy for or understand his plight of what made him the evil man he was. Even his exit was unmemorable for me. Good riddance!
I also made mention of this up above. There are the fans who go on and on about saying how closely this one resembles an adventure form the classic television series. Why exactly is that a good thing? This is a movie! I want it to feel like a movie, not a television show. I get the homage and throwback to classic adventures, but what kept me in the game here is the same formula as the first two entries. I’m a sucker for the chemistry of this cast, albeit less funny this outing, and the zany action sequences. The visuals and action sequences throughout here are nothing short of spectacular. I don’t know how they made that many swarming ships, but Krall’s force was quite a remarkable visual feat to behold. Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” always manages to put a smile on my face too. It’s quite entertaining they way they creatively brought this one into the game here for the third time now. However, what happened to Alice Eve’s character? I saw her leave on the voyage three years ago. Remember? Ha ha.
All in all, Star Trek Beyond is a good time to be had at the movies for the families. If I may make one recommendation though, I suggest checking it out in 2D. The fast paced action and post conversion 3D job had me leaving the theater with a splitting headache. In my opinion, there was too much onscreen for your eyes to ever adjust to. That’s just my two cents. As not a longtime Trekkie fan, what do I know? Nothing! However, I do know this. Blasphemy from the hardcore fans cast aside, Into Darkness is my favorite of the reboot films thus far followed by the 2009 entry. Take that for what it’s worth. Enjoy the ride and watch out for that crash landing!
Star Trek Beyond
Is Playing Nationwide Now!