The third chapter in the rebooted Star Trek franchise feels fresh.
Star Trek Beyond is an all around commendable movie that competently side steps the regular blockbuster criticisms.
When the story picks up much of the crew is disenfranchised by their mission to boldly go where no man has gone before. Kirk and Spock both feel spaced-out and desire to live a more grounded life. So they visit a city-ball-floaty-thing out in the middle of outer space in order to have a well-deserved rest-up. But, the moment they settle in, they’re sent back out into deep space to help a shipwrecked crew. Treachery ensues, and the crew of the enterprise finds themselves marooned on a hostile planet.
Yes, it’s a basic story, but it’s clever and handled with levity. Much of this is thanks to Pegg’s superior skills as a writer. He’s proven his worth, writing and staring in genre flicks that subvert the troupes while at the same time remaining loyal to them. It’s a respectable talent to walk such a tight rope.
Take his handling of characters in Star Trek Beyond: They’re all competent fighters and problem solvers. Each familiar face has a personal struggle even if it’s as minimal as a runny nose. And they all deal with these personal struggles without slowing down the story or affecting the overall struggle for survival. I know I’m basically reiterating what a screenplay should be, but a lot of recent high budget productions lack this type of concise storytelling.
Pegg even took the time to develop the “Red Shirts” before they got knocked off, so that their deaths have some gravity. Also, the “Native Rebel Girl” is more than just a two dimensional plot device. She’s got a lot of personality. Sure, she serves the function of helping Kirk jailbreak his crew and escape the planet, but she steals the show in almost every scene. Half of her charm could be attributed to Pegg’s dialogue, but the other half is all Sofia Boutella.
Peg’s story can’t be touted as perfect. Plenty of plot-holes pop up throughout the movie, but none of them swallow up the viewer. At one point they take out the enemies defenses with a broadcast of Sabotage by the Beastie Boys—a truly kick ass and well executed scene. The how of the thing slipped my mind because the spectacle suspended my disbelief.
Lin’s Direction was weaker than Abrams when it came to the action sequences. The initial crash of the enterprise suffered from epileptic cutaways that lost me as a viewer. Also, when they return to the wreck, the scenes were too dark. It’s hard to feel centered in the action when you have no idea what’s happening. One could argue that the action’s kinetic, but it only felt hectic. Otherwise, the direction flowed fine, and the final, aforementioned Beastie Boys music video redeemed the others.
Beyond offers dynamic visuals and landscapes—though I recognized the alien planet as British Columbia immediately. Lin has a couple clever cuts. For instance, one establishing shot blends almost seamlessly from the CGI snowglobe-space-city-thing to an actual sidewalk. The practical effects delighted me. The special make up effects artists out did themselves with a few vibrant characters.
All these smaller attributes work together driving the film forward like the well-oiled machine that it is. And while I can’t be certain, I feel like everyone involved, from the writer, to the director, to the actors and, well… beyond, put their heart into this movie, elevating it out of the realm of a mere popcorn flick. And for that reason, I’d say Star Trek Beyond deserves your dollar.