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Review - 'Star Trek Beyond'

Review - 'Star Trek Beyond'

I loved J.J. Abram's first film in the Star Trek reboot franchise. I also enjoyed the majority of 'Star Trek Into Darkness'. The Kahn stuff didn't bother me at all which is probably because I never really was a huge Trek fan to begin with. I felt like both of those films had a strong emotional core, but didn't really explore the nether-regions of space. 'Star Trek Beyond' is the opposite. This film lacked most of the emotional weight and simply had fun travelling to a distant world and wreaking havoc.

In 'Star Trek Beyond' the enterprise is sent on a rescue mission after a single escape pod reaches the space station they are docked at. A survivor named Kalara claims that her people are being held captive by a tyrannical leader named Krall. Once they reach the location, they are ambushed by Krall and his army and the crew is separated on the planet and have to find a way to survive and escape.

This new 'Trek' is really like an extended episode of the show, there's even a line from Kirk himself that alludes to this idea. It's just too bad this episode wasn't one of the better episodes. It's good, don't get me wrong, even great at times. I just didn't feel nearly as engaged in the proceedings as I should have been. I felt completely immersed in the first two films because the characters were going through life-changing and sometimes life-threatening shifts. In 'Beyond' I never got the sense that anyone was in danger or that anything shocking was going to happen. I guarantee you that once they release the fourth film in the franchise, you could watch the first, the second and then the fourth and not realize a third one existed. That's because the characters really don't progress much, and they end in pretty much the same position that they started. 

All of the characters are still as great as they ever were, though I wish they interacted on more meaningful levels like they did in the previous two films. There are a lot of quips in this one. A lot. At least they're funny though, unlike half of the jokes made in 'Ghostbusters'. Bones, played perfectly by Karl Urban, gets the most laughs here. The villain, played cunningly by Idris Elba has a cool look and is suitably intimidating, but there's not too much to the character and when the layers are peeled back I still didn't really care, in fact, his arch and resolution was a bit disappointing to me. We're also introduced to another new character named Jaylah; played by Sofia Boutella. She's, well, awesome. I absolutely fell in love with the look and personality of this character and I hope she sticks around for the next film because she really was one out of a few great things about this film. 

Sadly, we lost two actors between this film and the last one: the young and ambitious Anton Yelchin who lovingly played Chekov, and the legendary Leonard Nimoy, who obviously played the older, alternate reality version of Spock. It was nice to see that they gave Yelchin his biggest role in the three movies yet in this film. The tribute moment to Nimoy was also touching and well-implemented.

Though the story isn't quite as strong or memorable in this film, it is very fast-paced. There's not a dull moment that I can remember, I just wish there were more pensive and thoughtful moments between the outbursts of action (which there's a lot of). The action is well-staged and in-focus, and the choreography and various set-pieces are well-conceived. The finale stumbles a bit with some way-too-generous helpings of CG monotony. I never doubted that Justin Lin would be able to deliver on the action side of things, so no surprise there. There's also a few nods to the Fast and Furious franchise with some ludicrous characters-flying-through-the-air antics.

Another aspect 'Beyond' nails is the score. There's more of an emphasis on the original Star Trek score and plenty of nostalgic nods to the original themes. Even though this crew didn't actually do much exploration, the score made it feel more adventurous. This of course is all due to virtuoso composer, Michael Giacchino. 

'Star Trek Beyond' is a good movie, but unfortunately it's not a great one. This falls mainly on that fact that I didn't feel an emotional punch in this film; it's a fun action romp with spirited characters. I still think Justin Lin is fully capable of making an even better, more thoughtful 'Trek' film and don't want to see him go. He's the kind of the director that takes a bit of time to warm up, but once he's there, he's 100%. I would recommend seeing this film solely based upon the fact that it's a good time, just don't expect much more than that. 

Written by Rhys Paine on 7/30/1990

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