Star
Trek Beyond is the epitome of a perfectly light, fun, summer
blockbuster. The first entry directed by Justin Lin is (mostly) a huge
success for a series that desperately needed to recover from the gloomy
and convoluted ‘Into Darkness’. Lin (with help from writers Simon Pegg
and Doug Jung) brings a lot of his strengths from the massively
successful ‘Fast and the Furious’ series to the franchise. The emphasis
on the diverse ‘family’ of the crew to the creative action set pieces
that are a staple of that series fit well into this new incarnation of
Trek, even if it diverges from the oftentimes philosophical leanings of
Roddenberry’s original series. Beyond doesn’t reinvent the wheel for the
reboot series, or sci-fi films in general, but it does put characters
that we’ve come to love in new and exciting match-ups with one another
in a somewhat slight, but fun adventure.

Up
above, I said that Beyond is a ‘light and fun summer blockbuster’,
which, (kind of hilariously) a lot of Trekkies take issue with. I agree
that the original show, and definitely later series like TNG or DS9,
had a lot more on their minds than action set pieces with
one-dimensional villains. Q was as multidimensional as they come!
(Sorry.) The series’ explored big ideas and large-scale ethical
dilemmas, largely in part due to the constraints put on them by TV
production budgets. Yes, I agree it would be great to have the series
explore these concepts more, but that just isn’t as realistic in the current world
of modern Hollywood blockbusters. What we have in these new movies,
(barring Into Darkness) are fun new takes on those classic characters,
and finally in ‘Beyond’, the idea of strange new worlds, and the
mysteries that come with exploring the final frontier.

Why
I also said above that it’s ‘mostly’ a success, is because it’s kind of
just a high budget 2-3 episodes of a show. It doesn’t really
feel like a big Star Trek movie event like Abrams’ 2009 entry did. To me
that’s a good thing and a bad thing, because I love that it feels more
like the original series than any reboot movie yet, but inherently it
didn’t really blow me away like the 2009 movie. Another area of weakness
for me was the loss of Abram’s visual energy and action direction.
While Lin certainly has earned his action-directing chops, few working
filmmakers plan and orchestrate action like Abrams. His camera hovered
around with his usual ADHD energy and the geography of his action scenes
were easy to follow and track. Lin leans a bit too heavily on the
heavy-cutting shaky cam style for me, but the pure creativity of some of
his set pieces make up for it.

I
won’t go into the plot too much, but I can safely say that Idris Elba
is hugely underused as the villain ‘Krall’. He’s giving it his all, as
usual, but the script doesn’t give him enough to work with until later
reveals, and by that time it’s too late into the movie to really sell
it. I like the later plot developments a lot, but they can’t help but
feel under-cooked. One thing that isn’t under-cooked however, is the great
character work we finally get in Beyond. Abrams has his strengths, but
nuance with characters would not be one of them. Lin lets the actors
breathe a little bit (mostly at the beginning) and the incredible cast
brings their all, per usual. Karl Urban and Chris Pine in particular are
better than ever, and it’s great to see Anton Yelchin having a blast as
Chekov. I’d watch this cast in dozens of more Trek adventures, if Lin
decides to follow the trend of his previous F&F movies and make sequels
until the end of time.

That’s
about all I’ve got on Star Trek Beyond. If you liked the previous
movie(s) then you’ll dig this one, or if you just want a fun escape from
the apocalyptic fiery hellscape that is 2016, it ought to do the trick
as well. Coming up soon, I’ll be checking out ‘The Killing Joke’, based
on the best Batman story ever written in my opinion, and I’ll probably
catch Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad at some point after. Will I write
about them? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m very lazy. I’ll
definitely do a summer wrap-up though, because I’ve seen a ton of movies
this summer and want to write some thoughts on them. As always, thanks
for reading and check back for more reviews soon!

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