Star Trek Beyond REVIEW

Written by Jeffrey Schimmer

 
Sofia Boutella as Jaylah

Sofia Boutella as Jaylah

 

I am a Justin Lin guy. I think the Fast and Furious series has gotten better with him at the helm. I am a Simon Pegg guy. Hot Fuzz is a masterpiece. So all in all, I am underwhelmed by the combined effort of the two.

Star Trek Beyond is the third in the "Kelvin timeline." Three years into a deep-space mission, a reflective Kirk ponders the futility of the Enterprise's mission. So, when an opportunity for a search and rescue mission in an uncharted nebula is presented to him, he jumps on it. As the Enterprise enters the airspace of the new planet, they are besieged by a new enemy. Outgunned, they are separated and an overwhelming assault. They must come together, uniting with a new ally, Jaylah, to defeat the leader of this mysterious force, the imposing Krall.

The script isn’t sloppy. It is smart and plays well in isolated scenes. But the grand design of the plot let me wanting. An example is the opening scene. Parts of it tie in pretty well later, introducing the MacGuffin as well as many of the central characters. But the aliens depicted in the scene never reappear. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, just emblematic of how the movie plays out. Certain themes (mortality, unity vs conflict, meaning of family) are touched on without being fully explored. 

The most egregious offense to me was the humor. There are funny bits. Jayla has a lot of these moments. But the scenes between Spock and Dr. McCoy were forced, with little chemistry. All the individual performances are great but like the film, when ties together are a little underwhelming. 

There are smart things going on. A motif in the film is a swirling camera move, often used to introduce a scene with Krall, the main antagonist. It uses the camera to underline character traits. Jayla is fun as well. She is the true protagonist of the film, and I wish they had taken a risk by introducing her sooner at the expense of reintroducing us to the crew of the Enterprise.

While I appreciate much of what the movie is striving for, it strikes be a little shallow. It never explores the deep ideas while also glossing over some film logic. Kyle Smith of the New York Post gives a good example: "Things just click into place when needed, as when Kirk commands Scotty to rev up a busted old spaceship, Scott says it’s impossible, and 14 seconds later everything is ready to rip."

Go for the thrills, but don’t expect much else.