MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Star Trek Beyond’ prospers in small character moments and big action
“Star Trek Beyond” is a fitting name for the third installment of this new imagining of Gene Roddenberry’s visionary view of the future.
Not only does the film go into the exploration of one’s self and promotes this expansion past meaningless violence as a united front, but it went above and beyond my expectations as an overall film.
This chapter jumps forward years into the five-year journey the crew embarked on at the end of the last film, “Into Darkness,” with “Fast & Furious” franchise regular Justin Lin in the director’s chair.
Kirk, played by Chris Pine, is questioning himself as captain of the Enterprise. He feels stagnant, wondering about his place in the hierarchy and pondering existential questions about himself and his father.
He’s not the only member of the crew going through an emotional struggle, either.
In the wake of the destruction of his planet and the death of his mother, Spock, played by Zachary Quinto, finds his focus shifting to the rebirth and revitalization of the Vulcan race.
The point is driven home via an eloquent and respectful tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy early in the film.
The action really kicks into motion once the crew docks at a newly built Federation space station for resupply. The crew takes on a rescue mission in a nearby nebula at the urge of a refugee aboard the station. There they are ambushed by the menacing Krall, played by Idris Elba, and crash land onto the planet below, splitting up the main crew.
This film is built on the pairing of sets of characters; this dynamic has upsides and downsides.
The upside shows many character pairing we haven’t seen in the previous two films. Kirk and Chekov, played by the late Anton Yelchin, spent a good portion of the film together and played off one another pretty well. Yelchin’s performance was excellent, but came on a melancholy note knowing it was one of his last roles on the big screen.
Scotty, played by Simon Pegg, meets up with a new character to the franchise, Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella. She is the latest in a long legacy of sexy alien chicks to grace the “Star Trek” universe. Her and Scotty also play well off one another, with Pegg giving himself plenty of funny lines to deliver as a co-writer of the movie.
But of all the characters to be matched up, the odd couple of Bones, played by the always wonderful Karl Urban, and Spock tops them all. The two have a clear and established distaste for each other, which plays out as my favorite on-screen dynamic between the characters. Their interactions provided some of the hardest laughs throughout the film.
Understandably, those multiple pairings leave sparse time for much else in the two-hour run time of the film. The aforementioned major downside is in the lack of time for some of the other characters.
Uhura, played by Zoe Saldana, and Sulu, played by John Cho, are both criminally misused here. The two are basically non-factors in the film, which is a damn shame considering the acting chops of both Saldana and Cho. The two are only touched on during the few and far between character development sections for Krall. All the other characters get moments to shine, while Uhura and Sulu are designating to bench players.
Speaking of character development for Krall, it’s simply not enough. While Krall and his fleet of highly organized ships are threatening, I can’t help but feel Elba wasn’t given enough to work with here. While Krall’s motivation for what he’s doing makes sense, other things, such as his powers, go unexplained and unexplored. Krall felt like a half-baked villain, one with heaps of potential that should have been better capitalized upon.
I like this chapter of the new “Star Trek” story the most out of the three so far. The film works on nearly every level, moving the plot along with fun action, snappy dialog, and a formula we haven’t seen in this franchise yet.
The pairings work so well due to the rich characterization and development of the main Enterprise crew. If the main cast wasn’t written as strongly as they are, the whole film would have collapsed in on itself like a black hole. Instead, the previous two films set the framework and keystone for this, allowing a wonderfully constructed adventure to take shape beyond the stars.