To say this review is belated would be an understatement, considering that Star Trek: Beyond is well into it’s third week. But alas, my end of summer craziness is behind me and I’m about to unleash a fury of articles and a brand new podcast to my legions of fans. Or at least all 29 of them.
Star Trek: Beyond (see trailer) is the third film in JJ Abrams re-booted Star Trek franchise, honoring the traditional characters of the original TV shows and movies while being portrayed by a new cast, such as Chris Pine portraying Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock, among several other great new additions. While the first two films in this franchise have been overall pleasing to the masses the new Star Trek has still garnered its fair share of controversy. One complaint being that many avid Star Trek fans don’t like the new style, arguing that the original content was more cerebral and relied less on epic explosions and action packed fight scenes and more on wit, intelligence and good old science-fiction. After jumping from the Enterprise to the Millenium Falcon, JJ Abrams, who also directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, abandoned the directors chair this time around, instead acting as producer. In turn, Justin Lin of the Fast and Furious franchise helmed the captains chair as director for the third installment.
While I can’t say this Star Trek: Beyond provides insight into the complex intricacies of space that films such as Interstellar offer, this new Star Trek does attempt to use the philosophies of a futuristic society to convey life lessons, something the original Star Trek’s did quite well. I do emphasize the word attempt. Either way it was nice to see this franchise invoke a staple of its past success.
As always, Star Trek is visually stunning and I’m sure the new installment is sure to makes fans of the originals salivate at the idea of today’s special FX being incorporated into the films they loved. The action scenes were fun and and fast paced but honestly fell a little flat to me at times. Still, this film offers the excitement you need if you’re in the market for a good popcorn flick. The story in Star Trek: Beyond was engaging enough but overall I was left with the feeling that narratively this film was a mess. I was hoping we wouldn’t get another Spock/Kirk story line that highlights their uncertainties about their roles on the Enterprise and their relationship with each other. Not that I feel like those ideas aren’t worth exploring but the first two films explored those themes very well and I felt it was time to move on. Thankfully the Kirk/Spock existential quandaries serve as more of a side story this go around so it was tolerable. I did love that this film explored other relationships on the Enterprise team, such as the tumultuous friendship between Spock and Bones. Not to mention this film did a great job of showing that the Enterprise carries more people than just the main characters and not just canon fodder in the lower levels of the Enterprise. This film gave us the sense that the Enterprise is a community, thus giving more weight to role of Captain Kirk and the decisions he and the team have to make. Uhura, Scotty and Sulu all get their fair share of screen time and narrative, however it was disappointing that Chekov, portrayed by the recently deceased Anton Yelchin didn’t get as much screen time as I would’ve liked. To be fair this film was surely completed at the time of his untimely death and the entire team did a phenomenal job of honoring his memory.
As far as the villains go, I’m still confused. I’ll refrain from going to far in depth for the fear of giving away a huge plot point and major twist but I’m still trying to figure out exactly what the motive and intricacies of the villains backstory. I know what the villains were after but the WHY is still confusing to me. While the antagonists in this film are above average for a blockbuster franchise and Krall certainly is a quintessential Star Trek baddie, this film fails to live up to the villainy produced by Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Khan in the previous installment. Even though the motives of Krall and his team of warriors are vague they are still stronger villains that that of Nero and his crew in the first installment.
One last bright spot is a new character by the name of Jaylah, portrayed by Sofia Boutella. Jaylah’s character has a backstory that’s as murky as the villains, however her chemistry with the current cast makes her a welcomed addition to the story. Exciting fights scenes have you rooting for her instantly ans despite her odd appearance Jaylah is still sexy as hell. Hopefully Jaylah can be featured in future installments unlike a another female character introduced in the previous film Star Trek: Into Darkness. Alice Eve’s character Carol Marcus had a pivitol role in Into Darkness but was strangely absent in this film. Something I found very puzzling.
Overall Star Trek: Beyond in my opinion is the weakest of the re-booted films but not by much and is still a very adequate addition to the Star Trek franchise. Since its release it has been announced that a fourth installment is already in production and that Chris Hemsworth, who briefly played the George Kirk, the father of James Tiberius Kirk, back into the fold. An interesting decision considering that he…well watch the first 15 minutes of Star Trek (2009). Star Trek: Beyond is currently in theaters with an 84% score on the Tomato-Meter.