Okay, so I find myself torn. Sitting through the third installment of the rebooted Star Trek franchise, I had delightful visions of Star Trek Into Darkness dancing through my head. I came to a conclusion, this movie proved decidedly more two-faced than its predecessors. While it checked all the boxes as summer movies go, this writer can’t shake the disappointment resulting from a number of notable problems which plague the action-packed, sci-fi epic.
The film follows the crew of the USS-Enterprise, stifling from the constraints of being roughly three years into their five mission. Captain Kirk is bored having to wear the same shirt everyday (not kidding, it’s a shot in the film). He’s so done that he has even applied for a Starfleet Vice Admiral position (Never a good sign when you’re Captain Kirk). Everything is thrown into flux when the crew is sent back out into space while on a refueling and provisioning stop to save the crew of a missing ship, lead by the thinly developed Kalara (Lydia Wilson– Domhnall Gleeson’s little sister in About Time). One thing leads to another (no spoilers!) and the Enterprise finds itself crashed on an alien planet, with part of its’ crew in the clutches of Krall (a horrendously wasted Idris Elba).
This writer had no idea it was possible to waste the talent of Idris Elba, but this movie manages to do it. The character of Krall falls into Ronan the Accuser territory. There was some real potential for some interesting character work, but the script completely misses the mark. As the audience, we don’t learn anything about Krall, with questions only being answered in the last quarter of the film, and even still most of his motivations are left unclear (at least to this writer).
Compliment sandwich time! The cast is in typical form, and there is amazing banter between the group. Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto are particular stand-outs, as are Anton Yelchin and Simon Pegg. The cast benefits from the witty writing of Simon Pegg, and it’s clear that as a group they get along incredibly well. The chemistry of the main cast lends itself to a number of the film’s fun moments, which are its’ primary strength.
(Subjective portion coming up… no hurt feelings, please):
However, this writer has to ask, what happened to Uhura? Was Zoe Saldana working on another film at the time? The film’s treatment of the character, who has pretty prominent in the first two films, seems to have drifted back to the old days. We primarily see Uhura sitting behind her desk, all mini-skirts and go-go boots, doing little more than getting captured, and watching the male characters do things around her. The character is allowed two moments of notable agency (again, spoiler free!), but those seem lacking when compared to her involvement in the earlier installments.
The film has four (relatively underdeveloped) female characters. Uhura (who functions as little more than Spock’s (less fun) girlfriend in this film), the most interesting is Jaylah (Sofia Boutella– probably best known to audiences as the knife legged assassin from Kingsman: The Secret Service), Kalara and Ensign Syl (relative newcomer Melissa Roxburgh). All four seem to serve very little purpose (for two of them, the most memorable part of their characters is to die). Having a ship drop on you… ouch. Perhaps we can call this part of Star Trek, but coming off the last film when Saldana and Alice Eve (when her character wasn’t changing her clothes) had a lot more to do in the narrative, it certainly jumped out to this writer.
(Subjective portion over)
Now for something good (like I said, compliment sandwich!). Visually, the film was stunning, and combined with director Justin Lin‘s action movie background, the movie was a treat for the senses. And I guess, as a movie released in the dog days of summer, what more can you ask for. The space battle sequences are amazingly well done, and stand-out as some of the most interesting in the relatively young history of this rebooted franchise.
All in all, Star Trek Beyond (as a late July, summer release) does exactly what it should. It’s a fun, visually interesting, summertime action film. However, it does have its’ fair share of problems. If you can put those aside (as a number of members of my viewing group did) you’ll have a lot of fun.
My verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
(We’ll miss you, Anton!)
Have you caught it yet? Thoughts?