Movie Review: 'Star Trek Beyond' a Bold Step Forward

Movie Review: 'Star Trek Beyond' a Bold Step Forward

Star Trek gets all rough & tumble in this latest incarnation, brought to the screen by Justin Lin, who previously helmed four instalments in the diesel-fueled Fast & Furious franchise.

It’s a tighter, more-focused feature than the last two films in the franchise, directed by J.J Abrams, who defected to the Star Wars empire, and written by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (Orci, who was initially slated to direct this instalment, was alleged to be a 9/11 truther who snuck conspiracy theories into the last movie). 

And Beyond is decidedly faster. Maybe too fast. Lin was an unusual choice to replace Abrams, and Trek fans outright rejected the film’s first trailer, which blasted the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage over scenes of sci-fi action.

But his Star Trek movie is loose and fun and while it may no longer resemble the 1960s TV series, it’s a serviceable summer blockbuster in a 2016 season that desperately lacks quality in that department.

Biggest asset here: the central core of classic characters, firmly established by new actors in the previous two movies, who here get a settle into their roles and let plot take center stage.

Chris Pine may still be no William Shatner as Captain Kirk, but he’s now closer to that iconic portrayal than before: no longer the impassioned bad boy seen in the first movie, he’s now a reasoned, charismatic leader able to breathlessly whip his crew into action.

Even better is Zachary Quinto’s Spock; the actor reigns in the Vulcan’s over-the-top, illogical portrayal in the previous movie into subtle comedy, and deadpans his way through the movie’s most amusing moments.

In Beyond, Kirk and Spock are both torn between staying with the Enterprise and launching into other career opportunities; Kirk advancing through intergalactic politics and Spock going to Vulcan to help repopulate his home planet.

We want them to stay aboard, of course, which makes the ultimate theme of Beyond a little strange. The movie seems to be saying that it’s better to stick with what you know and like than to reach for new challenges.

What might be their final mission on the Enterprise ultimately finds the crew abandoned on an alien planet with a fellow refugee – Sofia Boutella’s colorful Jaylah, a welcome addition to the proceedings – and a foreign race led by Krall (Idris Elba), whose been luring starships to their demise for the usual reasons.

Supporting crew members Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) don’t get a whole lot to do here, but each has a scene or two to develop their characters. Co-writer Simon Pegg, on the other hand, has written himself into more screentime as Scotty.

But Beyond’s greatest casting asset – as in the earlier two movies – is Karl Urban’s Bones. He spends most of the storyline alongside Quinto’s Spock, and the interplay between the two of them is the film’s biggest strength.

While Beyond, despite the change in screenwriters and director, doesn’t exactly thrust the franchise into new territory, it’s the kind of old fashioned one-off adventure that plays out like an extended episode of the classic TV show. Minus the usual galaxy-threating finale that is obligated to close out blockbusters like this.

But on that level, it’s a rousing success.

Star Trek Beyond was one of the final films for Anton Yelchin, who was tragically killed months before its release; the movie is dedicated to both him and Leonard Nimoy, who passed away last year. 

Note: this review originally appeared on Expats.cz

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