Review by Bronzethumb

Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond

Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond

"All you need is love." Bear with me on this one.

 


The USS Enterprise is three years into her extended deep-space mission, but toll of isolation and monotony is nothing compared to what befalls the crew on the far side of a dangerous nebula, on a planet littered with lost technology, and at the hands of the mysterious alien warlord known as Krall. Captain Kirk and his crew must battle merely to survive, let alone thwart Krall's impending attack on the Federation, and doing so means facing up to their fears, their pasts, their legacies and the very ideals that have taken them to the final frontier.

 


 

At the end of the last decade, much was made of the fact that JJ Abrams, the new helmsman of the Star Trek franchise, wasn't big on Star Trek. He was openly more of a Star Wars fan, and he very consciously brought that pulpy, adventure-y aesthetic to what was usually seen as a more cerebral, intelligent franchise. The first result – 2009's Star Trek – is a rollercoaster experience, a brightly-coloured action-adventure with as much in common as Top Gun and the original Star Wars as with any of the ten films that had come previously.

 



Star Trek Into Darkness is where the worm turned for JJ Abrams. For all it gets right, that film drips with insincere homage, the call backs to the franchise's past obfuscate the great performances and deep themes, and it all comes back to one simple idea: love. JJ Abrams has never loved Star Trek. When he made the wonderful The Force Awakens, there is a passionate reverence, a deep affection guiding his hand that's plain for all to see, but he never loved the Star Trek franchise and as such, he never understood how to truly use those elements he references.

 

 


 


The same cannot be said of director Justin Lin and screenwriters Simon Pegg and Doug Jung. From the opening scenes, Star Trek Beyond is wearing its love of the source material on its fashionable new sleeve, and that influence seeps into practically every frame of the film. The opening scenes have a contemporary sensibility to the pacing and humour, and yet it's easy to feel like we're watching an episode of the original series, where the crew face philosophical quandaries as often as physical ones and try to spread the Federation's message across the stars.

 



Even elements of the plot feel like they've been drawn from classic Star Trek, as do particular scenes and character beats, but Pegg and Jung understand how to evoke the iconography of the franchise without merely rehashing it, and Lin focuses on delivering the most engaging version of any given scene rather than the most familiar. One of the film's best dramatic scenes, coming early in the film, faithfully recreates an iconic moment from The Wrath of Khan, but that's only obvious in retrospect because first and foremost, it functions as part of Star Trek Beyond.

 

 


 


That same scene also gets at the film's title and the creative team's mission statement: rather than try to replace or recreate the original series, they're trying to go beyond. When Chris Pine's Captain Kirk ponders how he compares to his father and about his age, it's a reminder that in 2016, Chris Pine will be the same age that William Shatner was in 1966; both Kirk and Star Trek Beyond are considering their place within the franchise and how they can measure up.

 



Pine isn't the only actor who gets some real moments to shine. Beyond splits the crew into pairs and small groups for much of the running time and mines the unexpected combinations for all they're worth, most notably the great dynamic between Zachary Quinto's Spock and Karl Urban's Dr. McCoy. Most characters get a chance to take both the heroic spotlight and the dramatic one, even Sofia Boutella as Jaylah, who is fun and energetic even if she's a bit too little reminiscent of The Force Awakens' Rey.

 

 


 


The film is not some bastion of perfection. It needs to function as a summer blockbuster, and sometimes the Trek elements can rub awkwardly against the slam-bang adventure sequences. There are some pacing hiccups in the middle act as we transition between groups of characters, where Lin struggles to find an even keel. Of the characters, Chekhov winds up with the most insubstantial role, made doubly sad because it's tragically Anton Yelchin's final performance. And meanwhile, the phenomenally talented Idris Elba is wasted on the role of Krall, a guttural snarler with slow, broken speech. He's a physically imposing presence, but Elba never gets a chance to really act in the part.

 



Yet even while the execution of Krall is disappointing, his function feeds back into the very Star Trek idea of a cerebral conflict, as his belief in strife and individualism is challenged by the Enterprise crew's belief in unity. It's yet another meditation on the ethos of Star Trek, and on Gene Roddenberry's dream of a utopia where peace comes from understanding, where strength comes from teamwork, and where all you need is love. That love is key, because even though Star Trek Beyond is a fun, exciting summer blockbuster adventure, it's a cut above the Abrams' films because it loves being part of Star Trek.





Our Grade:
A
The Good:
  • Star Trek Beyond has a love and reverence of the source material, and almost feels of a piece with the original series
  • Justin Lin has crafted a fast-moving, fun and exciting space adventure
The Bad:
  • Idris Elba is wasted in the role of Krall
  • The middle act has stuttered, inconsistent pacing

Bronzethumb is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @Bronzethumb

Review by - 7/24/2016 4:36 PM774 views

Your Responses

TigerClaw
TigerClaw
CONCURRING OPINION

Grade: A+
I saw the movie over the weekend and loved it, I think its the best Star Trek movie yet, Way better the Into Darkness, I highly recommend everyone to see this one, you won't be disappointed.

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