For the full Movie Bears Podcast review of ‘Star Trek: Beyond,’ check out the video below! Read on for our mini-review of the film.
‘To boldly go where no one has gone before’ may be the mission of the Starship Enterprise, but this is not the destination charted for ‘Star Trek Beyond.’ The latest installment of what has been dubbed the Kelvin-verse (previously, the Abramsverse for director JJ Abrams), ‘Star Trek Beyond’ borrows heavily from the story structure of the original series by telling an episodic adventure that reveres the status quo. This is both a good and a bad thing; those who felt like the first two films in the rebooted universe strayed too far from the source material should find solace in a film that more accurately ‘gets it.’ However, the episodic nature of the film slightly diminishes what would other be outstanding character arcs.
As with any review of a Star Trek film, the first and most obvious place to lay praise is on the cast, which collectively knocks it out of the park for a third consecutive outing. Once again, Chris Pine (Captain Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (‘Bones’ McCoy), Zoe Saldana (Lieutenant Uhura), Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Sulu), and Anton Yelchin (Chekov) prove that they were perfectly cast for their roles, and are a delight every time they appear on screen. As was true for the original series, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy do the bulk of the heavy lifting, as the major interpersonal dynamic storylines revolve around how these three interact with one another.
If there is one criticism to level against the characters, it is that Saldana, Cho, and Yelchin have less to do here than they did in previous films, often feeling like they are included in scenes only to round out the cast. This is particularly heart-breaking when remembering that Anton Yelchin tragically passed away this year, and we won’t see him in another of these films. The filmmakers couldn’t have known, but still, it would have been nice if his final Star Trek film featured a more integral role.
We’d be remiss in not mentioning the standout performance of the film, the one that seems to be taking the internet fandom by storm. Newcomer Sofia Boutella plays Jaylah, an alien who joins the Enterprise crew for the second half of their adventure and, frankly, steals the spotlight. We sincerely hope that this franchise finds ways to include her in the series going forward.
When it comes to big-budget action blockbusters, ‘Star Trek Beyond’ leaves a bit to be desired. The first act of the film features large, extended action sequences that are dimly lit and feature excessive shaky cam. Simply put, it is often hard to determine which characters are taking which actions during this sequence. This is a shame because director Justin Lin is most well-known for the ‘Fast and Furious’ series of films, a series which prides itself on its action. Once ‘Star Trek Beyond’ changes locations to a setting with better lighting, Lin’s talents begin to shine, especially in a well-choreographed and engaging second act fight scene.
‘Star Trek Beyond’ isn’t a perfect film, but it wears its flaws on its sleeve and outweighs them with even stronger positives. Even if the stakes feel a bit weak and the villain is ultimately forgettable, the film injects enough silly, heartfelt, and fist pumping fun moments to make these concerns dismissible. Most importantly, it understands what makes its iconic characters tick. Any Star Trek fan would be sabotaging themselves by skipping ‘Star Trek Beyond.’
Written by Will Lindus, Movie Bears Podcast