REVIEW: Star Trek Beyond
Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…a bold, entertaining spectacle…
It’s an interesting time for Star Trek. With the science fiction franchise celebrating a half-century since beaming into American living rooms via the latest cathode ray tube technology, the little-sci-fi-who-could has amassed an impressive six television series (yes, we are including the animated series) culminating in 523 hours of sci-fi glory with an all-new anthology series from Hannibal showrunner, Bryan Fuller, premiering in 2017. But while hardcore fans might argue that Trek’s rightful place is on the small screen, the franchise in recent years has found new life theatrically thanks to J.J. Abrams, whose reboot of the Star Trek universe in 2011 opened up both the mythology and the relevance of a series heavily steeped in nostalgia.
And that’s where Star Trek Beyond does well in paying tribute to the past fifty years, by deftly questioning its own relevance in today’s cinematic landscape via introspective character arcs that hold their own against the onslaught of visual effects, protracted action sequences, and a ball-tearing soundscape oddly, but effectively headlined by The Beastie Boys classic tune “Sabotage.”
Avoiding spoilers, Star Trek Beyond picks up three years into the crew’s five-year mission of exploring deep space, quickly establishing a burnt out crew going through the motions. But when the Enterprise, heading out from the Federation’s shiny new space station on a search and rescue mission, is attacked and destroyed, Kirk and his team, including a feisty alien castaway by the name of Jaylah, find themselves facing an enemy hell-bent on tearing apart the ideals of the Federation itself.
As with most Star Trek movies, on paper the synopsis seems simple enough, but the beauty of Star Trek has always been its ability to touch on big social themes, and Star Trek Beyond is no exception, tackling the current social and political divides between liberals and conservatives, the theology of terrorism, and, of course, the stalwart Star Trek mantra of acceptance, tolerance, and inevitable change.
Helmed by Justin Lin, whose directorial efforts on Fast And Furious saw that franchise reach new heights, Star Trek Beyond delivers a bold, entertaining spectacle designed to push the rebooted franchise into new territory. But the film isn’t without its flaws, most notably in Idris Elba’s protagonist, Krall, who has all the attributes of being a superb villain, but the actor frustratingly isn’t given the opportunity to truly engage with the role. Thankfully though, Star Trek Beyond has far more wins than losses thanks in part to Simon Pegg’s handling of the script, which is peppered with very funny moments (including the film’s opening scene) and which honours the franchise’s fifty-year milestone with numerous nuanced references to past films and characters, including the now controversial outing of Sulu and a subtle homage to the original cast.