Hot Take: Star Trek Beyond is one heck of a ride. The pace and humor balance the stakes which, as always, are incredibly high. It’s a blast.
In a summer full of unnecessary sequels and reboots, Star Trek Beyond is both a sequel and reboot that finds a way to rise above that feeling of pointlessness and delivers an experience that is loads of fun and very different than any previous Star Trek but, at the same time, very familiar. It also pulls off the rare feat of making a 2 hour run time fly by to where you only realize how long it is when you look at your watch as the credits roll.
One knock on the film might be its lack of character development. However, it isn’t like we’re unfamiliar with the characters at this point. What it lacks in character development, the movie makes up with a legitimate action flick with an uncomplicated, straightforward plot that acts as a vehicle to deliver wall to wall intense action. Co-written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, a comedy writer and episodic television writer respectively, the earmarks of what both do best are ever present. Pegg’s comedic knack is especially present as there are enough moments of levity to balance out the intensity of everything unfolding on screen. Directed by Justin Lin, known for his work with the Fast & the Furious series, the film benefits from someone who knows how to deliver a well-paced action movie.
As for the cast, the familiar crew returns and no one looks to be phoning it in. An unrecognizable Idris Elba steps in as the villain Krall although that voice is hard to mistake. Sofia Boutella also joins the cast as Jaylah, an alien ally who helps the crew of the Enterprise try to put a stop to Krall’s evil plan of wiping out the galaxy. While the stakes are high for the crew’s mission, the plot is somewhat breezy when it comes to the familiar characters as very little changes for the crew. The effects and action pay off on the big screen but the plot and character development will have some decreeing Star Trek Beyond is just a lost episode of the TV show that somehow mistakenly made it to the cinema. While not of that camp, I’d have to agree they might have a point but this one is too much fun to pass up.
Star Trek’s mission is to boldly go where no one has gone before. Star Trek Beyond attempts that mission by delivering a fresh and different experience that other Star Trek iterations have decided against. Even better is the fact that it accomplishes what it sets out to do which is entertain the heck out of you.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
While the jury is still out on whether this franchise has another mission left in its current reboot as the box office figures roll in, Sofia Boutella should have a place on the crew of the Enterprise if the crew is asked back to deliver another cinematic experience. It’s a challenge to tinker with the familiar but Jaylah seemed to fit right in with the crew.
- Balancing Comedy & Action
Star Trek Beyond is both funny and action packed. Part of the reason is due to what feels like a committed and willing cast who never once seems to be phoning it in but there’s also some expert writing present and never a moment where one element tries to dominate the tone.
- Karl Urban
There are few secondary characters as fun as Chief Medical Officer Leonard “Bones” McCoy and trying to fill the mighty large shoes of DeForrest Kelley isn’t easy but Urban does so and then some. Typically, someone from the crew shines above the rest in every movie and it’s almost always the Captain (whether it be Kirk or Picard) or Spock but in Star Trek Beyond, “Bones” is the one to watch.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- More Lost Episode than Cinematic Masterpiece?
Star Trek Beyond is a very good movie but one could argue it didn’t need the big screen to achieve its mission. It’d be hard pressed to justify such a massive effects budget for a television episode but plot-wise, there’s a case that can be made against this making to the multiplex. I’d disagree but would have to concede they may have a point.
- A Throwaway Villain
One thing Star Trek has been known for is memorable villains. From Khan to the Borg, the multiple incarnations have almost always delivered a villain that stands toe to toe with the storied crew. In Star Trek Beyond, there are times where Krall makes an impact but, for the most part, there is something missing. Other than it being Idris Elba under all that makeup, Krall isn’t very compelling.
- Damn that Trailer
There’s build up to a great moment in the movie that is somewhat spoiled if you remember one of the trailers. If you haven’t seen all of the trailers or don’t remember them much, that’ll help your viewing experience.