Directed by Justin Lin
Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana
Released July 22nd, 2016
In 2009 J.J. Abrams successfully rebooted the Star Trek franchise with a new time line and young cast. In 2013 Abrams returned with Star Trek Into Darkness, a follow up that was divisive among fans to say the least. Star Trek Beyond completely ignore the events of Into Darkness (with no mention of magic blood, tribbles, or Alice Eve’s character), and works as a direct sequel to the 2009 reboot.
Having focused his energies in the last year on directing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Abrams remains producer of Star Trek Beyond, but hands the directing reins over to Justin Lin. Lin, known for his work on the Fast and Furious films, brings high octane energy to Beyond’s many action sequences.
“Star Trek Beyond” has more spectacle and bombast than any previous Trek film, and is by far the most action-heavy Trek film to date.
Three and a half years into their five year mission to explore new worlds and boldly go where no man (excuse me, no one) has gone before, the crew of the starship USS Enterprise find themselves on a rescue mission, heading into a deadly nebula in response to a distress signal.
Once in the nebula they lose communication with the Federation, but this couldn’t possibly be a trap, right? RIGHT?
The ambush comes in the form of cool single pilot Galaga-type ships, referred to in the film as “bees.” The bees swarm and take out the Enterprise, making this the umpteenth time the poor ship has been ripped apart. Star Trek fans must love watching the Enterprise get torn to shreds.
Our faithful crew, now separated, crash land on a planet (where they can thankfully breathe freely) that seems to be deserted except for one alien lady. The lady in question is Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), your typical video game action heroine who is skilled in combat and handy with a space wrench.
Jaylah is not an uninteresting character, although we don’t learn much about her other than she’s an orphan and she listens to Public Enemy (as orphans do).
Jaylah helps Scotty (Simon Pegg), Chekov (Anton Yelchin, in one of his last film roles before his untimely death), and Kirk (Chris Pine) while Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) and Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) are on their own miles away. The scenes featuring a stranded Bones and Spock are highlights of the film, as it is always fun seeing oil and water personalities clash.
The villain of the piece, Krall (Idris Elba), is chasing an ancient doohickey that will allow him to strike back after being wronged by the Federation years ago. The question of whether or not the Federation is a positive force in the universe has been raised multiple times in Trek lore, and it seems a missed opportunity for Krall’s quest to be tied to one man being left behind rather than larger galactic ramifications.
It’s nIce to see Shohreh Aghdashloo in a few scenes as Commodore Paris. She’s a great actress and she’s able to bring a real weight to the proceedings. Simon Pegg co-wrote this installment, and as a result Scotty is more front and center than usual. Deep Roy returns as his character Keenser, a little blue engineer that IMBd tells me was in the previous two Star Trek films, although I don’t remember him.
The special effects are grand, with some ship and location designs being reminiscent of the Star Wars prequels. I’ve enjoyed a lot of Michael Giachino’s work over the years, but his score for Beyond misses the mark completely and comes across as an overwrought mess.
Star Trek is arguably more interesting when it’s about characters and concepts rather than spectacle and bombast. Beyond has more spectacle and bombast than any previous Trek film, and is by far the most action-heavy Trek film to date.
Despite watching a fair amount of The Next Generation back in the day, I’ve never been a big fan of Star Trek. Beyond doesn’t make a believer out of me, but if you’re already a member of Starfleet your intergalactic milage may vary.