There might not be a more fun movie-going experience this summer than the sci-fi adventure film “Star Trek: Beyond,” which sees Chris Pine return for a third go-round as the iconic Captain James T. Kirk in a role made famous by William Shatner.
Several years into a deep space mission, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are tasked with rescuing the crew of a wrecked ship on an uncharted planet, until the ship is destroyed by a mysterious villain named Krall (Idris Elba) and most of the Enterprise’s crew is captured.
For much of the film, “Star Trek: Beyond” feels more like a fancy television episode with intense and picturesque special effects rather than an elevated theatrical production and the film drags slightly in the middle third as a result.
In reality, the difference between the first two “Star Trek” reboot films and “Beyond” is the difference between “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Fast and Furious 6.” Or in other words, the difference between directors J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin.
Abrams left the “Star Trek” franchise after two successful installments to breathe life into the next generation of “Star Wars” films, paving the way for blockbuster action director Lin to take the helm.
Lin’s directorial approach focuses on style over substance and “Beyond” feels incredibly flashy as a result. It should come as no surprise that the best scenes in “Beyond” are the action sequences – Lin’s bread and butter developed over four “Fast and Furious” installments.
While the “Star Trek” franchise works best as an ensemble piece, Pine has the ideal charisma and cavalier attitude to lead the team as Kirk. “Beyond” doesn’t require Pine to flex his acting muscles very much, but he finds a way to maintain the pretty refined character developed over two prior films without getting in his own way too much.
The real stars of the show are Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban in their love-hate relationship as first mate Spock and medical officer ‘Bones’ McCoy. The film’s script co-written by star Simon Pegg, who plays engineering chief Scott, peaks in scenes between Spock and McCoy. The unlikely pairing makes for some of the film’s funniest moments as well as most of its best dramatic ones as well.
The reboot “Star Trek” films have been defined, in part, based on strong performances from veteran character actors in the main villain role. Following Eric Bana and Benedict Cumberbatch, Elba is a fantastic choice to play the nefarious warlord Krall, though it’s unclear whether Lin knows exactly what to do with him.
Elba is nearly unrecognizable as Krall buried under mounds of makeup, which limits his ability to emote using facial expressions and takes away a key part of Elba’s acting arsenal. Given the bland way in which his character is written, Elba does a solid, yet unmemorable job as the baddie with a grudge to settle.
“Beyond” also features a touching homage to Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock, who passed away following his final turn in the role in “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” It’s fair to expect a similar homage to Anton Yelchin, who died in a car accident shortly after filming his scenes as Chekov in “Beyond.”
The film also has a much lighter, family friendly tone both in cinematography and storytelling than the brutal previous installment “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” Though it sits firmly in the PG-13 rating category, the third “Star Trek” film is a much more inviting film for younger audiences unfamiliar with the franchise’s rich television and film history.
“Beyond” is a more than worthy entry into the “Star Trek” film franchise canon and without a doubt the most exciting summer blockbuster film so far this year. While it doesn’t quite have the same substance as the other two reboot entries, “Star Trek: Beyond” has more than enough style to keep the Enterprise’s engines running for quite some time.