Review: Star Trek Beyond Is The Best Of The Rebooted Star Trek Movies
Title: Star Trek Beyond
Director: Justin Lin
Screenwriter: Simon Pegg (written by), Doug Jung (written by), and Gene Roddenberry (television series ‘Star Trek’)
Principal Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin
Summary: The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test
I was a little sad when I realized not only was Star Trek Beyond opening the week I was leaving for Comic-Con International but also that they wouldn’t be screening for critics. I’ve been worried about this movie ever since I saw Star Trek Into Darkness and realized that this directing team had no idea what they were doing. This one was a rushed production and it not being screened for critics screamed ‘bad news’. I was fortunate enough to attend a special screening at Comic-Con which I went into in detail over at Monkeys Fighting Robots. As I said over there this review took a little while for me to do because of Comic-Con insanity and generally trying to separate a movie from an experience.
Star Trek Beyond is the best of the new Star Trek movies that seems to capture the essence of the original series while updating it for a modern audience.
There have been movies that have been “saved” because I went in with such low expectations and I was worried, at first, that this would be more of that. However, I truly believe that Star Trek Beyond is a good movie and not just because I thought it was going to be bad. The thing that has always worked about these movies has been the truly fantastic cast, aside from Chris Pine who has never clicked for me as an actor, and this time they take advantage of it. After the Enterprise is destroyed (it’s in all the trailer so it’s not a spoiler) and the entire crew is separated, we get some great moments from all of the characters. We get a great last performance from the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov when he teams up with Kirk (Chris Pine). Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) also get some great moments but the best comes from Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban).
The danger from recasting classic characters with new actors is that you run into the problem of someone just doing a bad imitation of the original. The cast of Star Trek Beyond does a great job of bringing out the little qualities of their original counterparts while still making the parts their own. We also have a new cast member of Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) who walks into the movie and slips easily into the dynamic of the cast. We don’t get a lot of backstory for her, which is one of the parts where the movie stumbles, but she is a good enough character that they would be silly not to use her again. Her look is interesting and immediately recognizable. I predict this will be one of the big cosplays of the next year.
This isn’t a perfect movie. There are a lot of moments that feel like they were cut for time, like Jaylah’s backstory or explaining how the villain Krall’s (Idris Elba) swarm army works. The script was apparently 180 pages and was cut down to 130 which is a lot of material left on the cutting room floor. When your criticism of a movie is that there should be more of it, that usually is the mark of a good movie. There are a few moments that seem a little silly (even for a Star Trek movie) such as the dirt bike but it more or less works in the context of the story. There are a few plot holes you need to just hand wave away, such as Krall forgetting where something major is located, but they are minor grievances.
Star Trek Beyond is the first of the new Star Trek movies that seems to have truly found its footing. I could even recommend that you can ignore the first two movies (the plot of Star Trek Into Darkness isn’t even acknowledged) which is probably for the better. The great cast and even better score finally have a movie worth seeing and being a part of ; it’s just a shame it took two strikeouts for us to get here.