Star Trek Beyond
Justin Lin's Stark Trek Beyond will please avid Trekkies with its thought-out script and return to space exploration, but fans of Abrams' previous two entries might not find enough spectacle and action to keep their attention.
Star Trek Beyond might be the best Star Trek of the reboot films in terms of a well-written script that perfectly manages to balance the action with sci-fi, bringing in tons of new alien creatures and worlds into the latest adventures of Kirk and Spock. It’s also the most confusing, struggling to define its intentions by focusing on too many characters in too little of time.
Sure, J.J. Abrams‘ films weren’t the most airtight and dense, but at least he managed to capture the relationship between Chris Pine‘s Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto‘s Spock almost perfectly.
Their chemistry helped drive the first two films, while the extended cast sort of sat in the shadows and occasionally provided solid bits of important information.
Star Trek Beyond almost puts Kirk and Spock’s relationship on the back-burner, while Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) get their chance to shine.
It’s an odd complaint of mine to discredit Beyond for focusing too much on other characters, despite the first two films giving us plenty of Spock and Kirk, yet Beyond feels slightly disjointed because of this shift in character focus.
J.J. Abrams is known for shooting big action spectacle almost effortlessly, with lens flares and swooping cameras panning to the soft sounds of composer Michael Giacchino. Abrams achieved success with his Star Trek films by creating something that was more adventurous and action-packed and while most fans of the original series and movies shunned Abrams’ adaptions, I welcomed them with open arms.
This leaves Justin Lin‘s Star Trek Beyond feeling slightly cold. Sure, the script tackles far more than both of Abrams’ films combined, but it does it in a slow manner that’s far too focused on making sure to cram as much new alien lifeforms and technology as possible.
Lin shoots for the stars and comes up with a film that truly does expand the Star Trek universe beyond the known stars.
But then he drops the ball when Idris Elba‘s Krall comes into the picture and gives us yet another safe “chase the bad guy” scenario with an end reveal that’s almost as predictable as the third act that leads into it.
Elba seems to be having a fine enough time behind all of that make-up and CG, but most of his performance consists of grunts and bitter one-liners as his role is simplified to that of “the bad guy” that does bad because obviously it’s bad.
He’s given no real context or importance, despite taking down the entire crew.
His army looks cool and functions in a rather bad ass manner in the film, but Krall as a character is simply a pawn-pusher that could’ve been so much more.
Beyond does manage to add a little bit more importance to Scotty and Bones. Finally, Karl Urban is put to good use as Jim’s other right hand man and best friend. Watching the two discuss Jim’s father and Jim’s own uncertainty as a Captain feels sincere and earned, while Urban also manages to stretch his comedy chops when working with Quinto’s dry, yet amusing Spock.
The entire cast and crew is on point this time around, with focus being evenly divided up among all of the core crew members. I mentioned earlier how the lack of focus on Spock and Kirk sort of ruined this one for me, which is true, but I will say that the script does a fine job detailing the characters and Lin captures every character beat and moment with a thoughtful eye. I just personally felt that it didn’t work as strongly as the relationship between Spock and Kirk in the previous two films.
The film really does feature a top notch script with some excellent character development, but I’d be lying if I said that Abrams’ action isn’t missed. Justin Lin is a gifted filmmaker and he shows true promise behind the camera on Beyond, but there’s less spectacle and less popcorn-ness this time around.
I’m sure most longtime Star Trek fans are going to absolutely want to toss me over a bridge for thinking and saying these things, but I honestly prefer Abrams’ first Star Trek film.
Into Darkness was a messy follow-up, but at least it felt like the proper continuation, despite the worst Khan reveal ever.
Beyond attempts to go boldly where the other two haven’t gone before and in doing so almost robs the film of that familiar feeling. It feels like a completely new chapter in this franchise and sadly I’m not as much invested as I once was.
Maybe another viewing will soften the blow or maybe I just wasn’t cut out for the Star Trek world? As it stands, Star Trek Beyond is an okay summer sequel that steps up its writing game, while at the same time changes the underlining feel of these modern Star Trek films.
I’m still looking forward to seeing Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew explore deeper into space, but only now I’ll be approaching the sequels with a little more caution.