“Star Trek” was given new life thanks to JJ Abrams, and after finishing “Star Trek Into Darkness”, he went on to do bigger things; namely “Star Wars: the Force Awakens.” Fans were subsequently left wondering if a third Star Trek movie would ever see the light of day, and if it did, who would take the helm of the U.S.S Enterprise in Abrams’ absence? That responsibility ultimately fell to Justin Lin, a name far more synonymous with “The Fast and the Furious” franchise than “Star Trek.” Having directed the last 3 sequels in the “Furious” series, I have to admit that I found him to be a rather unorthodox choice for directing a film series such as this. Needless to say I had my concerns, but could he surprise us all–that’s what were about to find out in this review.
Three years into their 5 year mission, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew are feeling the weight of exhaustion from their extensive travels in space, but things then take a change for the worst after the U.S.S Enterprise is annihilated during a surprise attack from a dangerous new enemy, Krall (Idris Elba). Now the Enterprise’s crew is randomly scattered across an alien planet, and Kirk and his trusted comrades must fight against impossible odds to bring the crew back together again, and stop Krall from attacking the United Federation of Planets, starting with the nearby Starbase of Yorktown.
Every director has his/her own distinct style, little touches and additions that have become their signature trademarks. Tim Burton loves dark gothic fairy tales; M. Night Shyamalan loves twist endings; and Justin Lin likes to make high-octane action movies a la “Fast and Furious”.
Consequently, “Beyond” feels like a “Star Trek” movie on full throttle, and is a fast paced, flashy, Beastie Boys blasting ride that is intensely focussed on keeping things simple yet sensationalized, rather than exploring the extra depths and meanings of the plot. Everything in here looks and feels different from the Enterprise crew we knew and grew to love in the previous installments. While it’s true it’s the same cast, same attitudes and characters as before, much like Kirk feels at the beginning of the film, everyone seems tired and worn out with the ensuing movie then a cinematic shot of redbull; meant to jack everything up for a more extreme outing into space.
Visually, it certainly makes a spectacular splash worth your time and money; the destruction of the Enterprise from a million smaller ships, and the crew’s brilliant use of musical warfare in retaliation are some of the film’s finest moments. Speaking of the finer moments, no one has them quite like Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto as Bones and Spock. Their chemistry together brings a hilarious and well-crafted new dynamic to these characters that has rarely been seen before. Meanwhile, Sofia Boutella is an excellent new addition as the alien warrior Jaylah, and though limited by his onscreen time and simplistic motivation, Idris Elba gives it his all and proves effort can make even the most generic of roles prove meaningful and memorable. Everyone else does an acceptable job, not too bad but not as good as they have done before.
The problem with “Beyond” is that it feels like a tacked on sequel rather than a proper continuation. It’s just like what happened to the “Mummy” franchise when Stephen Summers left the series and “Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” was spat out by Rob Cohen. It’s the same people, same story, but it feels like what it truly is: a series hijacked and driven into unoriginality by a disappointing director’s choice. “Star Trek Beyond” is enjoyable, without a doubt, but it certainly feels less than what it could have been. The cast worked as best they could within the confines of such a “fast food” flavored script, but even with its few shining moments, I still feel this director was the wrong fit and gave an improper and inadequate feel to the movie.
I give “Star Trek Beyond” 2 and a ½ stars out of 4.