MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Star Trek Beyond’

Written by J.T. Johnson

4-stars

DIRECTOR: Justin Lin
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Stephen F. Windon
WRITERS: Simon Pegg, Doug Jung
MUSIC: Michael Giacchino

“Star Trek” and “Star Trek Into Darkness” are movies that I’ve really enjoyed. Yes, they did drift away from the more philosophical stories of the earlier films and TV shows, but they were great action-packed sci-fi adventures. Yet surprisingly, it is the flick from the “Fast & Furious” director that somewhat brings the series back to its roots.

No, it does not skimp out on the action. That’s still there, too. However, at the core of the movie is a story about humanity and who we really are in the vastness of the universe. When we open up this particular yarn, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) describes the emptiness he is feeling over three years into the Enterprise’s five-year mission.

He wonders what’s the point of exploring at all since the universe is so big that there’s no way humanity will ever cover it all. These feelings of emptiness have him considering a Vice Admiral promotion in order to get away since Admirals don’t really fly. Meanwhile, our threat finally arrives in the form of Krall (Idris Elba) and his swarm of alien ships.

While escorting a survivor back to a planet on the other side of a nebula, the Enterprise is ambushed and destroyed. The crew escapes the ship, but most of them are captured by Krall. Now, it is up to Kirk, Scotty (Simon Pegg), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban) to rescue the missing crew members.

The big change with this movie is that it breaks the “big ship vs. big ship” formula of the first two films. Yes, there are some great moments featuring the Federation and alien ships, but most of the action takes place on the planet where Krall and his people live. There are also a couple of clever twists in the story that add meat to the story’s themes of humanity’s place amongst the stars.

The performances are fantastic as the entire crew of this particular Enterprise easily slip back into their roles. Highlights include Pine’s Kirk who is more the introspective thinker that William Shatner’s version was in the original films. Quinto also has to take a look at what Spock’s place is in this particular universe and Urban’s Bones provides ample support for the character and their differences also provide a few chuckles along the way.

Elba as Krall is a good enough villain, but honestly, I must admit that I might not remember him in the series’ massive rogues gallery. He serves the story well, but there’s really not enough there to make him stand out in the same ranks as Khan in “Star Trek II” or the Borg Queen in “Star Trek First Contact”.

The movie does take a moment to really get started. The opening sequence, reminiscent of the one featured in “Into Darkness”, is nice but not particularly memorable. Then, they take quite a bit of time establishing Yorktown, a massive Starfleet base that Bones refers to as a snow globe in space.

Beyond the little bit of drag and a villain that is not really all that familiar, this new film is worth the wait. Not only does it bring back the action of the first two films in this softly rebooted series, it manages to capture a bit of the spirit of the earlier films and TV shows.

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