When I heard that Justin Lin was taking the reigns of Star Trek Beyond after a shuffling of directors, I was a bit apprehensive about this movie. After watching the film (on 4K UHD Blu-ray), I am sold that Lin was the right director for the film – and it shows that he does have good knowledge of the franchise.
Star Trek Beyond finds the crew of the starship Enterprise about half-way through their five year mission. It starts out on Captain Kirk’s birthday and the movie has quite a few quiet moments in the beginning – which both surprising and welcome. The actors, after working together for years have a great chemistry together, which is a little disappointing later in the film when they are all split up.
Kirk is having an existential moment and is debating leaving behind being a captain for something more mundane. But, before he can make his decision an unknown starship shows up at the large Starbase that the Enterprise crew is taking a leave at. The starship’s captain asks for help from the Federation to go to a planet to save her crew. Stuff happens and surprisingly, Kirk does not get his ass kicked in this film as much as he has in the previous two films. The Enterprise does not fair as well though.
The villain of the film is yet-another-forgettable-bipedal alien. His name is Krall and unless you knew ahead of time, you would not know it was Idris Elba under all of the prosthetics and make up until late in the movie. Krall is not even close to being as memorable as the best Star Trek Villain ever (Khan), but he’s not as forgettable as someone like Shinzon (yes, Tom Hardy). His motives were a bit sketchy for me, I will have to watch the film again to see if I can ferret out what his motives were – though it seemed a lot like: Revenge, kill everyone, wraugh!
Of the three reboot films, this one comes close to being as good as the original reboot film in 2009. Beyond is not as drab and self-important as Into Darkness. I really liked that the script for Beyond had more levity than Into Darkness. It kept the film watchable and fun. The action in the film is also exciting (how could it not be, I mean: Justin “Fast and Furious” Lin). And the level of visual effects in this film have taking quite a leap beyond the first two films. The Enterprise battle scene and anything in and around Yorktown Starbase were eye-searingly good. Again, the chemistry with the cast is fantastic. The new addition, Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) is welcomed and I really liked her character – I hope that Jaylah returns in future films as a part of the crew of the Enterprise.
The film is not perfect though. There were somethings that did not work too well. While Lin’s direction and action is kinetic, the use of shaky-cam was a bit much. As mentioned before, Krall really is not that memorable. I would love for the films to start developing an arc for the crew. So far, the three films have, for the most part, been standalone stories that feel like a self-contained “mega episode”. Yes, there are some references to the previous films, but it would be great to give the crew something that lasts beyond the closing credits.
The one throwback to the original film that I loved was “Sabotage”. The use of that Beastie Boy’s song in the first film and now in the third was fantastic.
Did I love this film? Yup. It was fun and funny and a good enjoyable way to spend some time with the crew of the Enterprise. Those still expecting this rebooted movie series to do something like The Original Series will continue to grumble since it is nothing like TOS. But, for me I love the rebooted universe, I love the TOS universe and I accept that they are different and can be enjoyed on different levels.