I think it is safe to say that Star Trek Into Darkness wasn’t what most people expected in the follow up to the 2009 reboot film. Even though I enjoyed the film and found a lot to get behind, I was still disappointed that the movie went in the political thriller direction. For the third film in the franchise I was hoping the writers would get us into actual space exploration with the adventures and moral quandaries that tie to it. The first good sign was that the third film was going to take place during the five-year mission into deep space. The first concerning sign was that it was going to be directed by a man known for his work on the Fast and Furious franchise. Maybe this film was going to go a little too far Beyond.
About half way into the five-year mission into the frontiers of space and Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is feeling a bit of malaise. He struggles to live up to his father’s famous heroism. It is as if all the exploring isn’t yielding anything new for the crew. To top it off, his birthday is just around the corner. Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) tries to cheer the captain up with some fine liquor and the prospect of docking at the impressive new star base: The Yorktown.
While at the Yorktown the crew is contacted by a survivor of a downed survey mission deep in a mysterious nebula not too far away. Kirk gathers his people and hurries off to help. While exploring the nebula, the Enterprise is attacked and decimated by a swarm of alien vessels. Most of the crew is captured and brought before a being called Krall (Idris Elba) who is crafting a dastardly scheme to wipe out the Federation presence in space – and he’s going to start with The Yorktown. It is up to the Enterprise crew to work together with a new ally, Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) to figure out Krall’s plan and stop it . All the series regulars return to their roles including Spock (Zachary Quinto), Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Checkov (Anton Yelchin) and Scotty (Simon Pegg). Will this be the Enterprise’s final Star Trek Beyond?
- Includes some great moments for the crew, especially Spock and McCoy
- Sports impressive visual effects and sound design
- The action scenes are well executed
- Focuses so much on action that we lose the wonder and scope in the story
- Some may find the 20th century touches to be too distracting
- Feels obligatory instead of special
This film is a solid entry in the franchise, but never rises to more than that. The acting is very good as usual, and the main crew has some great moments of interplay. But the main antagonist and his plot aren’t terribly interesting, although they provide some interesting thematic elements. Overall it is the rigid focus on action over all else that hurts the film. It keeps Beyond from being all the memorable or engaging. Not a bad film, but a hollow one.
Scores(out of 5)
In Depth Review
|Take a good look now, because she isn't going to look this good for long.|
We weren’t going to get a true adventure of the Enterprise on her mission. I wanted to see something like a supersized episode of the series, but with major impacts to the crew and even the Federation. It didn’t have to include an antagonist at all (I would have cheered if it didn’t’), but it would pose a challenge to them and force them to work together to solve the problem. Or maybe the outcome wouldn’t be quite what they hoped. They could have taken an existing episode of The Original Series and adapted it, twisting it for the new timeline. Or they could have come up with something original and intriguing. Elements of this do happen in Beyond, but not in the way I hoped.
|I think the little guy just photobombed this screenshot.|
When it comes to the visuals, Star Trek Beyond brings us some really amazing stuff. As a whole the revamped series has done a great job with the visual effects. This film goes for some really dynamic and interesting sequences that require a lot of impressive visuals to pull them off. You have The Yorktown itself, a sprawling space fortress encased by a clear sphere. It looks spectacular, and when we get some close up travel sequences through it near the end, all that detail and work really comes through.
|Nice shot of The Yorktown through the Enterprise view screen.|
Where the visuals really step things up a notch are the creatively conceived and executed action scenes.Star Trek Beyond is packed with them and they offer plenty of wow factor to the film. The attack and destruction of the Enterprise is unlike anything we have really seen in Star Trek before (and admit it we’ve seen The Enterprise destroyed quite a few times now). They fluid motion of the swarm as they rip the ship apart is really something else. Later in the film while Kirk and Chekov search the downed Enterprise saucer for key information another action scene erupts. This one ends with the mammoth saucer flipping over as its thrusters fire. It creates a constantly moving and dangerous battleground for our heroes, and a smashing doom for one of our villains.
|Um... yeah, this is a thing that happens. Did they learn nothing from the|
dune buggy incident in Nemesis?
Then you have the escape of The Franklin, the battle against the swarm and the final threat of Krall on board The Yorktown. These action scenes occur one after the other and give us so many different and exciting visuals that it really is impressive. We have never seen Star Trek tackle this kind of action before, hell even Star Wars would be hard pressed in this comparison. The finale involving shifting gravity with Kirk and Krall facing off is really handled well, and ratchets up some nice tension.
|The villains lair has a very interesting look.|
Matching the visuals is the sound work. Everything here sounds like Star Trek as envisioned in the modern age. Added to it are all the action-oriented sound effects. That means plenty of explosions, metal ripping, ships zipping by and phasers firing. We get some great rumbles as The Franklin attempts to take off. The swarm provides some of the most dynamic sound of the whole series. It’s just a real treat of sound design and Beyond’s action focus gives us plenty to chew on.
|Bones knows that Spock is in serious trouble when he sees the Vulcan smile.|
Sadly his theme for Jaylah isn’t all that interesting. It feels pretty light and never makes much of an impression. Giacchino gives it a couple of full-throated renditions during the film, but most of the time we hear it in fragments. I wasn’t even aware she had a theme until I got the score and heard the suite version of it.
|"Sorry Krall, you're uglier than Thanos."|
The best new material is for the star base Yorktown. Here Giacchino takes a page from James Horner and creates an almost romantic track for this location. It is lovely and can be adapted with choir to have an impressive power behind it. Giacchino gets to use the theme as bookends, and it provides a bit of a respite from some of the more bombastic action tracks. The performances of The Yorktown theme are the highlight of the score and well worth seeking out on their own.
|She doesn't look at that friendly here, but she is one of the good guys.|
The cast of Star Trek Beyond nails the roles, with the material they are given. Pine feels like a more mature and in control Kirk, closer to the version we are familiar with in the series. He adds a weariness to the part that is much different from what we saw in the previous films. The rest of the cast fills in the parts we are familiar with; a bit more time is spent with Scotty and his interaction with Jaylah. We also get some wonderful sequences with Urban’s McCoy and Quinto’s Spock with the banter that we expect between these two based on their interaction in the original series. It makes me realize how much I missed that kind of dialouge in the previous films.
|"Uh, you're not gonna hurt me with that, are you lass?" "Only if|
you keep calling me lass."
Idris Elba is fine as Krall. The part doesn’t give him all that much to do other than threaten and glower for the bulk of the film. When we finally get his backstory and the film allows Elba to do some more with the role it is almost too late. By that point the film is moving at breakneck speed and can’t afford to slow down to allow Elba’s talents to shine. In some ways it is a thankless role and one that just about any good actor could have handled, no need to get one of Elba’s talents. I’m guessing there was more to the character before rewrites and editing whittled him down so much.
|"Ok that is a little too strange for a strong new world."|
For a lot of fans the script to Beyond didn’t really capture much of the spirit of Star Trek. But what defines Star Trek is different for many fans. Instead it felt like the creators were looking for a new audience with this film, one that was more focused on over the top action set pieces and cool characters than the wonders of space exploration or a thematic look at the human journey. I’ve seen some folks accuse Paramount looking bring in big audiences in from overseas (specifically China, going by the huge Chinese corporations credited in the opening of the film) and thus reworking the script to suit the potential new audience.
|Star Trek doughnuts! You'll love 'em!|
A good example of this is the destruction of The Enterprise. It was included for a number of reasons. First because the Enterprise was destroyed in Star Trek III, and since this is the third film of the new series, there is some interesting symmetry there. Second, it made for an amazing action scene. Third it would raise the stakes in the narrative, making it nearly impossible for the crew to escape the planet.
|Um, you dropped a little something back there.|
Beyond does do some things right. It gives us a few moments of character interplay that works great. We get a thematic core about the power of unity and cooperation versus hate and divisiveness. You don’t really get more Star Trek than that. It gives each character a moment: to save the day, or come up with a clever plan, or be a key actor in their scene. And yes, it has some impressive sci-fi spectacle moments that are hard to top.
|And Kirk crashes the Franklin too. Just keep him away from star ships!|
On some level the movie is entertaining, and fun popcorn entertainment at that. It does have nods to all the previous films and even to some of the episodes from The Original Series (I’m looking at you HUGE GREEN HAND). Director Justin Lin did an outstanding job with the action scenes. They are some of the best of the series and he creates a great pace for the film. It never slogs, it balances the humor and surprises pretty well. He never really lets up off the gas once the swarm attacks the Enterprise, and yeah, that is an impressive feat.
|See! The huge green hand from "Who Mourns for Adonais"!|
|"So, who is up to save some whales?"|
|Had to include this nod to the poster to Star Trek: The Motion Picture.|
Enjoy this review? Click an ad and support this blog.