The Star Trek franchise delivers the eventual third installment, once again promising audiences to go where no man has gone before. Justin Lin takes over as director replacing J.J. Abrams, delivering a summer blockbuster as ordered.
Fortunately, there’s no overuse of lens flares and canted angles. You get a sense that The Enterprise is a space-venturing ship on a mission like any sea vessel on an expedition, which makes this third installment more Trek-y than any of the two installments before it. While it does inject themes of sacrifice, peace, and unity, there is no shortage of action scenes. Star Trek: Beyond has creative spins on old school action – space dogfights, hologram decoys, and a scrappy rescue mission.
As you would expect from the director of the Fast and Furious franchise, the plot explores the crew’s dynamic rather than just focusing on Kirk. The main cast is paired off with different characters and everyone is given enough screen time. The cast does well as expected, including new villain Idris Elba.
As the movie progresses though, it becomes obvious that Star Trek halfheartedly commits to its promises and marches to the same old beat.
Starfleet has unwittingly created another megalomaniac in search of a weapon of mass destruction McGuffin. The U.S.S. Enterprise promptly crashes into another planet. There’s plenty of visuals here to keep you distracted, but the editing can be chaotic at times.
The movie explores the main casts’ dynamic in a middle section that grinds everything to a halt, but there’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before (except for Gay Sulu).
The captain has an existential crisis but mostly he’s bored. At some point, he rides a motorcycle and approves of the Beastie Boys. Spock and Uhura’s relationship is on the rocks. The Vulcan and Bones get paired together instead. Scotty lands his zingers without missing a beat.
They go up against Krall with the help of Jaylah, but the one-note villain doesn’t have much to do and given a paltry found footage reveal.
While Krall represents a theme tackled in the original series, big ideas give way to standard blockbuster fanfare. In fact, you can see some Fast and Furious influences here – USS Franklin might as well be some souped-up once junkyard car blazing through the streets accompanied by a hip-hop soundtrack driven by a rough and tumble hero with unresolved daddy issues and a loyal crew.
In the end, Star Trek: Beyond doesn’t go beyond any farther than its previous installments. The franchise doesn’t have any intentions of contemplating the mysteries of the universe and challenge our ideas of what we know about outer space.
It’s a polished enjoyable summer blockbuster for viewers who aren’t looking for anything else.
Star Trek: Beyond
Star Trek: Beyond doesn't go boldly farther than any of the previous installments and recycles favorites, but it's enjoyable enough as a summer blockbuster.