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Star Trek Beyond (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond


Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim, Lydia Wilson, Deep Roy, Harpreet Sandhu, Melissa Roxburgh, Anita Brown, Doug Jung, Danny Pudi, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Greg Grunberg and Jeff Bezos.

Screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung.

Directed by Justin Lin.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures.  120 minutes.  Rated PG.

“Space: the final frontier.  These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.  Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

That five-year mission has now officially reached 50 years.  Of course, the new movie Star Trek Beyond has little in common with “The Man Trap,” the first episode of the original series to air on September 8, 1966, other than character names, accents, and a similar-if-highly modernized spaceship.

Star Trek Beyond is the third film in the recent reboot, started by JJ Abrams.  Of course, when Abrams flew away to take over the Star Wars reboot, and his second Trek film – Star Trek into Darkness – ended up being a critical, popular, and fan disaster, you could be excused for not expecting another chapter in the continuing saga.

However, whether it was needed or not, here it is, co-written by actor Simon Pegg (who also plays Scotty) and directed by Justin Lin (of Fast & Furious films fame).  The change behind the captain’s chair has somewhat changed the vibe of this entry in the series: Lin’s wham-bang action stylings replacing Abrams’ nostalgic sense of wonder.

And yet, strangely, in some ways this movie feels the most like one of the episodes of the old series yet: particularly the scenes of the crew, wandering lost in a mostly deserted rocky planet (watch out, unknown crewman in the red uniform!).  The scenes on this planet feel like the old Star Trek location of Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, and at the same time the rocks often feel like the cheesy old papier-mâché boulders that the original series used so often.  However, rather than feeling corny, it feels like a sweet homage to the original series.

Sadly, the storyline also feels a little small, like the old series shows.  There is nothing wrong with that per se, but Star Trek Beyond is one of the rare Star Trek movies that feel like they were filmed for the small screen.

This is particularly surprising, because the movie starts off with a real bang.  A swarm of thousands of kamikaze alien ships literally destroy the Starship Enterprise by slamming into its sides.  It’s kind of a stunning visual to see the Enterprise literally torn limb from limb after all these years.  In the past it always sustained some rather bad damage, but you knew it would be rebuilt and made even better.  This time there is no going back, you may as well start over from scratch.

Sadly, the movie has to start from scratch from there, too.  Much of the rest of the movie are just a handful of surviving crew members running around a barren planet with a group of killer aliens led by Idris Elba chasing them down.

It’s all fine enough, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before in the Star Trek universe.

If they bother with a fourth film in the Star Trek reboot – which honestly, I sort of doubt will happen – they may want to try to do something new.  After all, Star Trek is all about the frontiers.

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2016 All rights reserved. Posted: November 1, 2016.

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