Tuesday, July 26, 2016

[Review] Star Trek Beyond

Following the fantastically rebooted Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (although I've heard that some hardcore Trekkies have a few beefs with them), Star Trek Beyond doesn't reach the stellar levels of its predecessors or launch the franchise into a new direction, but it's still a fun ride.

966 days into the voyage, and life has gotten a bit monotonous on the USS Enterprise. So it's only logical that the crew embarks on a new mission to an uncharted area in order to save a stranded ship of allies. But in the process, they're forced to face off against an alien military led by the menacing Krall (played by an unrecognizable Idris Elba).

The first two installments of the series succeed largely due to their adept screenplays--wrought with universal conflicts, dilemmas, and narrative layers--and anchored with nicely developed characters and genuine human emotion. They also showcase some solid dialogue of wit, optimistic wisdom, and thought-provoking philosophy. Even when the script pops off a bunch of exposition, the films manage to remain engaging. Star Trek Beyond keeps all of these aspects in tact--just to a lesser extent.

Krall mostly suffers from a severe case of one-dimensional villain syndrome, and it feels like a waste of the great Idris Elba, though it isn't nearly as bad as Oscar Isaac's unfortunate venture as En Sabah Nur in this year's lackluster X-Men: Apocalypse. Director Justin Lin (Fast Five) packs in a robust amount of choppy phaser battles and frenetic spacecapades that come awfully close to inducing motion sickness. Sure, it might capture the turbulent perspective of the characters, but it's a little sloppy and incoherent on the big screen (the motorcycle sequence was cool, though). And the uniquely strong dynamic between Kirk and Spock isn't as compelling this time around.

What the film excels at is its lighthearted humor that hits with precision at a relatively frequent rate. Simon Pegg serves as co-writer, which must explain all the funny banter. It's also really amusing to see Bones getting stuck in situations he wanted no business being apart of. And in an awkward but refreshing bit of levity, the Scotty discovers an old radio device that blares jams like Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" and "Sabotage" by Beastie Boys. The crew refers to it as "Classical" music.

Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoey Saldana), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin, RIP), round out the usual cast and they're as likable as ever. Joining the squad is the butt-kicking, invisibility-utilizing Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). In a welcomed tie-in, the story incorporates a touching tribute to Leonard Nimoy. And thankfully, Anton Yelchin gets a couple sweet moments in one of his last on-screen roles.

In Star Trek Beyond, it's those elements that transcend stars and time that truly shine, embracing the hopeful spirit of placing trust in humanity, and remembering the things that leave a positive impact.

( 8/10 )

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