First Word: Star Trek Beyond has top rate acting talent. Director Jeremy Lin also handles the action scenes quite well. However, like a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces don’t fit, “Star Trek Beyond” jumps between giant action set pieces lacking context, nuance, and expositional background. The narrative is a sloppy mess.
Synopsis: (7) Chris Pine matures into the role of a responsible Captain Kirk who is starting to question just what it is they are doing out in space; he is also toying with the idea of a career change. Vacation time is cut short, though, when the Enterprise is asked to deal with a distress call. They set off to a faraway planet where they encounter a literal swarm of some unknown aliens who seem hell-bent on their destruction. In time-honored fashion, the Enterprise is destroyed, the crew is scattered and forced to consider their mortality, purpose, and just how they are going get out of this problem. There are plenty of fast-paced gymnastics from the crew, but the film, ironically enough, works best in the quiet, more contemplative moments. Kirk is grappling with the fact that he is about to become older than his father ever lived to be and the idea that he is now unable to measure himself against George Kirk, is unsettling. Kirk is eventually pitted against Krall (Elba is mostly unrecognizable under the make-up), who forces him to consider where he fits into Federation structure. Spock (Quinto) discovering the passing of his alternative self creates a poignant and elegant memorial scene to Leonard Nimoy. While it is bittersweet watching the late Anton Yelchin figure out the plot as clever, ever-enthusiastic Chekov. Bones (Urban) is the voice of reason to everyone else’s fantastical ideas, while Scotty (Pegg) provides the laughs and Uhuru (Saldana) keeps everyone sane and grounded. Every member of the command structure gets a chance to show off their action skills, though it does get into Fast and Furious territory toward the end. On the planet they meet Jayla (Boutella), a young castaway working hard to get away from the big, bad swarm. We eventually discover the plot completely hinges on a tiny Macguffin of sorts and if you really question it too much, there are holes to be discovered.
Cinematography: (8) Star Trek Beyond has great CGI work. Jeremy Lin excels at action sequences (Fast and the Furious Franchise) and that shows in this film. This movie has many issues however the direction, make up, and overall CGI work were not part of the problem. Idris Elba costume work makes him almost unrecognizable.
Characterization: (6) Many critics and fan boys say this film has a deep connection to the original Gene Roddenberry television series, but I would staunchly disagree with that statement. The original series did such an excellent job developing its characters. This film did not. A sad example arrives via the late Anton Yelchin’s underdeveloped role as Chekov. The essential Star Trek character is squandered beyond belief. He’s reduced to a few overheard, throwaway, one-liners. Idris Elba is also terribly wasted in the villainous roll of Krall. By the time the movie gets around to Elba’s big scene, it’s too little too late. What a waste of awesome talent. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Sofia Boutella, and Anton Yelchin all give inspired performances that get shoved under the rug of a movie lacking a developed narrative arc. With its five contributing scriptwriters, “Star Trek” feels exactly like the by-committee screenplay you’d expect from so many chefs in the kitchen.
Conclusion: Star trek Beyond lacks the characterization of many of its previous iterations. Still, the script is funny. The film is tauter, but less uptight than Into Darkness and it charms you along in old-school Star Trek fashion with its emphasis on teamwork.