Star Trek Beyond

Directed by: Justin Lin

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, and Idris Elba

The summer box office season hit a bit of a slump.  While animated fare has been plentiful and dominant, there have not been enough “must see” movies this summer.  Independence Day: Resurgence, Tarzan, etc. were not enough to get me excited about this summer season.  Audiences were waiting for an event movie, and Star Trek Beyond has filled that void to an extent.

James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is successfully helming the USS Enterprise on a mission. Captain Kirk, however, is having an existential crisis.  He joined the Federation in part because of his father’s legacy as a captain.  Now that Kirk has been in space at length, the endless journey has begun to feel routine, boring and pointless.  Meanwhile, Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Lieutenant Uhura have recently ended their relationship.  Since his planet was destroyed several years ago, Spock feels duty bound to continue the Vulcan race and thus, he had to end his relationship with Uhura.  The crew lands at a space base, Yorktown, to resupply and take stock.

While the crew is at Yorktown, a space refuge drifts to the base.  She claims that her ship is stranded on a distant planet in the nebula.  The nebula is so dangerous that the USS Enterprise is the only ship advanced enough to navigate through it.  Kirk immediately volunteers and the USS Enterprise is dispatched on a rescue mission.  However, when they arrive at their destination, a mysterious enemy, led by Krall (Idris Elba), attacks the USS Enterprise.  Kirk and the crew are overwhelmed in the onslaught and the Enterprise crashes on a nearby planet.  Separated and in danger, Kirk, Spock and the crew of the USS Enterprise must find a way to defeat the mysterious Krall and save the world.

With Justin Lin at the helm, Star Trek Beyond is fast-paced and generally stays true to Trek lore. Written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, the film is heavy on humor and trademark catch phrases. Since this is the third film in the franchise reboot, Pine, Quinto, Saldana, Karl Urban, and the  cast feel like old, familiar friends.  Moreover, new energy was added to the cast with Sofia Boutella as Jaylah.  Boutella, fresh off of the success of Kingsman: Secret Service, delivers a badass performance and is a welcome addition.  The narrative of the film is solid and should leave most fans generally satisfied.

However, I suspect that the film’s current score on Rotten Tomatoes has more to do with the lackluster summer blockbuster season rather than the quality of the film.  I had some major issues with Star Trek Beyond.  As an initial matter, Lin’s direction is somewhat chaotic.  Although the space action sequences were visually incredible, some images were so frenetic that I could not actually see what was happening.  The jumbled camera shots diminished the impact of some of bigger moments.  Furthermore, the big plot twist at the end was predictable and telegraphed fairly early in the film. 

My biggest issue with the film, however, is the misuse and underutilization of Idris Elba.  Elba’s plot and his character are not fully developed.  In its predecessor, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan shredded scene after scene and was utterly compelling.  Elba’s Krall had a phenomenal entrance to the film, but then dwindled behind the alien mask and weird motivations for his villainous plots.  I think the filmmakers could have done a lot more with this character and perhaps that would have elevated the film from just a solid installment in a franchise to something more groundbreaking.

I would be remiss if I did not note that Star Trek Beyond is dedicated to stars who passed after the film was made: Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin.  The Yelchin tribute in particular is moving given his youth and wonderful talent. With Anton Yelchin’s recent passing, his larger role in the film is definitely bittersweet.

Star Trek Beyond
earns a strong 0.06% rating.  The film does not shine as brightly as its predecessors, but it has given the summer box office an “event movie” jolt.