Star Trek Beyond.
This is the third Star Trek film in this new universe, following up what I consider to be two great entries. I know Into Darkness is divisive, but I loved it. This movie changed directors and seems to have shifted tone quite a bit as well, with a strange first trailer using the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” Is this a worthy installment in the franchise?
The whole gang is back. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) takes charge, with his buddies Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and Chekov (the late Anton Yelchin). We’ve got a new mysterious ally (played by The Kingsman‘s Sofia Boutella) and a new mysterious enemy (Idris Elba under quite a few layers of makeup).
We join our crew as they’re just past halfway on a 5 year trek into deep space. They’re suddenly attacked by a threat that absolutely demolishes them and separates our team, who must now figure out a way to survive and regroup.
When I look back at the past two movies, I really only remember moments with Kirk and Spock. Here, we luckily get some great moments with the other characters (most notably Karl Urban’s Bones). We see small splinter groups of characters we’ve never really seen interact, so they get some interesting quiet moments.
The quiet moments are rare though, because this movie goes a million miles an hour and doesn’t slow down. Director Justin Lin (known for some of the past Fast and Furious movies) injects some vibrancy here, with some incredible massive action sequences. This is a true summer blockbuster and will likely entertain people who found movies like Independence Day: Resurgence to be a little too slow for them. The action here is constant.
It’s also plenty of fun, assuming you can set aside some gaping plot holes and confusing leaps in logic. There are some jokes, some romance, and plenty of shootouts to keep most people entertained.
What doesn’t work?
This is by no means a perfect movie. Some might even say it’s not a good movie, but I found it entertaining enough to teeter slightly towards good.
Everything is balanced. The movie is nonstop action but that action is sometimes a letdown. Everything is fast and a blur. The spaceships are all so fast, you can’t really decipher any sort of detail. The hand-to-hand fights are full of shakey-cam and quick edits, lacking much impact. You’ll also notice that the camera is constantly tilting. It’s the new lens flare. The camera is always veering left or right, hoping to somehow trick you into thinking the ship is moving or that the onscreen argument is somehow much more dramatic. You can’t not notice it now.
The two new characters are also balanced. Boutella’s new female alien lead Jaylah is intriguing but ultimately falls into the “damsel in distress” role more often than I would’ve expected for a badass warrior woman. The biggest disappoint is Idris Elba’s Krall. His motivation is flimsy and only revealed in the climax, leaving you somewhat apathetic the whole movie leading up to it. He also does some weird things that don’t really make sense, seemingly to justify a fun twist. He’s not a strong villain.
And while some characters get leading roles, including Bones and Scotty, others get pushed aside (Sulu and Uhura mostly).
The movie’s fun but if you’re paying close attention, you’ll have plenty of things to pick apart. The action is fast and fun, but the editing lessens the impact. Some characters get substantial roles, while others get completely sidelined. Our new characters look amazing but both characters are fairly superficial and, in the end, fairly disappointing. However, if you want a fun popcorn summer blockbuster, you’ll find that here. Just don’t think too hard about it.