Coming off Star Trek Into Darkness, the newly revitalized Star Trek Franchise had a lot of good will to regain in many fan’s eyes and for the most part, Fast and Furious Director Justin Lin’s Star Trek Beyond brings a breath of fresh air along with a solid action packed script from Simon Pegg and Doug Jung.
Within the film’s cold open, we find our beloved crew on the journey we were promised at the end of the first film. The crew has become a functioning crew, but beyond that a family that is attempting to make a difference throughout the galaxy. Kirk (Chris Pine), who is still channeling a hybrid performance of his own and that of William Shatner, is entertaining as ever the narrative thrusts us into a peace offering that quickly goes awry in a very comedic way, only adding to the charm of the character.
Once back on board the U.S.S. Enterprise, the crew is given equal screen time to catch us up as to how everyone has grown, including a sequence that allows us to see into what it’s like living on a space ship on this type of mission. The crew is populated in a co-ed fashion that illustrates equal living space between all genders, species and races. It’s a harmony that we will also see in the film’s climax which is a space hub of sorts which allows for serious stakes and suspense.
Chekov (Anton Yelchin), James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Sulu (John Cho) feel comfortable in the skin of their respective characters aboard the Enterprise and watching them communicate never gets old. One of the strengths of this film is the new partnerships that form.
After the Enterprise is destroyed, we see new factions made with McCoy (Karl Urban) & Spock (Zachary Quinto), Kirk & Chekov, Sulu & Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and Scotty with newcomer Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). The crew is given ample to do in this installment and it’s satisfying to see them in the field alongside their unlikely sidekicks. Anton Yelchin will be a main focus for many members of the audience because of his untimely passing, and while that’s admirable, you’ll find a kid who was having the time of his life on screen and it’ll bring a tear of joy to your eye. Kirk and Chekov have more action than the other’s but it’s action that moves the plot along and not just for action sake.
Spock might be one of the biggest criticism against the film, as his performance just isn’t on par with his previous two outing in the pointy ears. The make-up artist also may be to blame as Spock’s signature hair due was all over the place throughout the film and very inconstant from shot to shot. Thanks to Karl Urban as Bones, the most entertaining of all the returning characters, Spock’s scenes with his fellow crew-member allow for something we’ve never seen before to shine from his character, levity as Spock is given the role of the straight-man in their two man show through the odd terrain of an alien planet.
Krull (Idris Elba) is not a one note villain as you might expect after seeing Nero, the pissed off Romulan played by Eric Bana in 2009 and Benedict Cumberbatch’s mystery box Kahn retread, but Idris actually has his own arc. You understand the things that made him the way he is and that’s including a fun twist on the lore of what makes up a Star Trek alien-like character. His character is vengeful, but in a way that parallels themes that Kirk himself are facing in life.
Uhura and Sulu are another unlikely pair and this one doesn’t have as much to do than the other’s however it’s great to get them to play off each other. They actually have more to do before they meet up, including a kick ass scene allowing Zoe’s Uhura to get rough with some unwanted attackers on the Enterprise. Sulu is strong in his own right and his skills come in handy especially during a specific set piece involving a new ship and gravity. Both character have key moments that will take your breath away.
Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah is a stand out due to her uniqueness. She not only has a freaking awesome gas weapon that can instantly freeze, (it’s a sci-fi world, just go with it) but she’s been surviving all this time on her own thanks to her technology prowess and keen intellect. She’s truly the stand out of the entire film thanks to her charisma on screen and with the team we already know and love. Remarkably, there isn’t a love interest for any of the characters in this film that dangle in peril and for that, the film should be applauded.
Montgomery Scott “Scotty” (Simon Pegg) brings humor and suspense in small places, and is used sparingly but wisely in the overall narrative. It’s the relationship that he builds with Jaylah that really brings heart to the film and helps you invest in the battle going on while being crash landed on the alien planet.
Director Justin Lin brings his style of action over to this franchise that doesn’t upset what has come before but it doesn’t exactly hit the right note either. It’s somewhere in the middling area as something about it just feels rushed. This film does have more some spectacular stunts that I hadn’t seen in any Star Trek film before, including an anti-gravity scene that is astounding and for that I’d say his stunt-work was a success.
Overall, the latest installment to the rebooted franchise starting with JJ Abram, who is a producer on this film, is solid and for the most part original, even though it feels like you’re watching something more inline with the original tv series. The tone and the characters really make you feel at home if you’re a fan, and while there are some shortcomings in the visual effects, make-up and direction, you’ll leave the theater with a smile on your face.
Star Trek Beyond blasts into theaters July 22nd.