Saturday, July 23, 2016
Movie Review: "Star Trek Beyond"
At the start of Star Trek Beyond, the Enterprise crew is midway through their five year mission, and such a long stretch in space has worn down the crew, in particular Captain Kirk, played yet again by the exceptional Chris Pine. Of course this movie doesn't wallow in soul searching for two whole hours. These characters search their souls as they embark on a propulsive adventure in uncharted space, getting separated on an unknown planet by an alien warlord named Krall, with the crew of the Enterprise having to find each other and reunite in order to stop the threat that Krall poses to the Federation.
This time about, because J.J. Abrams had to direct a little movie called Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he serves merely as a producer, and Fast & Furious director, Justin Lin, takes over as director. As well, the screenwriting duo of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are no longer writing the franchise, with the same going for producer and Into Darkness screenwriter, Damon Lindelof. The new writing team of Simon Pegg (who once again portrays Scotty) and Doug Jung, prove that they know these characters inside and out. In a great many ways, the Enterprise crew is more faithful and lively here in terms of dialogue and characterization than they've been in any of the alternate timeline movies thus far, with Karl Urban's Bones getting the vast majority of the movie's best lines. Plus, Pegg and Jung deserve huge props for creating the new character Jaylah, a resourceful, tough as nails alien portrayed by a butt-kicking Sofia Boutella. Add on top of that Lin's action movie pedigree (especially in a scene where a swarm of bee-like spaceships bore into the Enterprise to tear it apart), and you get a very solid Summer blockbuster that is fun and action packed, but seems to be missing the special ingredient that made this movie's two predecessors so special to me.
Honestly, I can't quite put my finger on why I feel this is the weakest of the three Trek movies in the alternate timeline. The energy is there, the cast continues to surpass the cast of the original series in my opinion, and there are plenty of fun moments to be had. So why do I feel this way? For me, I think it's two reasons. One, I think Idris Elba's bad guy, Krall, never gets enough explanation to how his strange powers work and how he amassed this large army to make him as strong of a villain as he could have been. And two, the movie simply lacks as many awesome, fist pumping, spine tingling moments as the two directed by Abrams. Part of this goes back to a slight disappointment I have in Michael Giacchino's musical score. I love Giacchino, and his themes for Star Trek are some of my favorites he's ever written, so for me to not feel like he utilized his themes as well as he had on the two previous movies, makes me sad. Of course, this is really me being a nitpicky fanboy, because as far as this movie being just a fun standalone adventure movie, there hasn't been any other blockbuster this Summer quite as strong as this one.
Star Trek Beyond simply made me smile for the vast majority of its two hour runtime. When watching this movie, you get to spend two hours with characters you love, all getting along and working together towards a common goal. This is a rare feat in most of these team movies nowadays, as is evidenced by Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman. For some odd reason, most moviemakers think we want to see our heroes arguing and fighting one another, but Beyond makes a strong case for unity above all else. None of the conflict in Star Trek Beyond comes from the relationships between the characters, and that is just a refreshing change of pace in this day-and-age where so many people the world over can't seem to ever agree on anything. While this is an action adventure movie, the future of Star Trek feels even more like a utopia than it usually does in this one, and I for one would love to live in the world of Star Trek. Honestly, I believe that's the true hallmark of great sci-fi or fantasy. Is it a world so fantastic I'd want to live in it? In this case, the answer is a resounding yes, especially as long as Kirk and the Enterprise crew are around to save the day.
I give Star Trek Beyond an 8 out of 10!