Star Trek Beyond (2016)

  • Time: 120 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Justin Lin
  • Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin


The first leg of the USS Enterprise’s five year mission takes them into uncharted territory. There the Enterprise is nearly destroyed and strands Kirk and his crew on a remote planet with no means of communication. Kirk must then work with the elements to reunite his crew and get back to Earth.


  • Star Trek Beyond proves an entertaining if slight third entry into the long-running and hugely profitable franchise. While the gang’s all there in front of the camera, a changing of the guard has occurred behind it. Screenwriters Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman are missing in action with Simon Pegg, who also plays Scotty, penning the script along with Doug Jung. Director J.J. Abrams, still on board as producer, has ceded the reins to Justin Lin, who directed the four best installments of the immensely popular Fast and the Furious franchise.

    On the surface, the alterations appear for the better. Pegg, being a Trekkie of the highest order, crams callbacks, throwbacks, and references to all existing elements of the Trekkie-verse that will tickle both the fanboys and movie buffs. Lin has a keen eye for thrilling set pieces in which the limits of gravity and elasticity of physical space are tested time and time again, and for having a motley crew coalesce into a community powered by the individuals’ respective strengths. Yet they don’t mesh quite as smoothly as one would think – there’s a disconnect that inhabits the entire movie. It doesn’t necessarily prevent one from enjoying the action or the comedy or the consistently appealing cast, but it does dampen the overall experience.

    The crew’s latest mission may be to rescue a crew stranded on a planet in uncharted space where their communications will be disabled, but it’s a mere excuse to loosely structure the film as a remarriage comedy – its central couple verging on separation only to be bonded once again via their latest trials and tribulations. After 966 days in space, Kirk (Chris Pine) is staving off boredom (“If the universe is endless, then are we not striving for something forever out of reach?” he notes in his log) and pondering a job change to Vice Admiral. Spock (Zachary Quinto), dealing with the latest break in his relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and badly shaken by the news of Spock Prime’s death, considers leaving the Starfleet. Both decide to withhold revealing their imminent departures to the other until after they accomplish the rescue mission.

    The routine mission is complicated by an attack engineered by Krall (Idris Elba), an alien warlord who dispatches his mechanical swarm of ships to cripple the Enterprise in order to steal an artifact in Kirk’s possession. Lin delights in staging the frenzied chaos of bodies flying, slipping, sliding, and scrambling amidst the debris and destruction. Scale and proportion stand on shifting sands – the Enterprise dwarfed by the Yorktown space station, which circles around and folds over itself like something out of Inception’s dreamscape; a space ship in freefall, resembling nothing so much as a drop of rain against a jagged mountainside; even the looming species that open the film, wittily revealed to be the size of gremlins.

    In terms of narrative, this allows Pegg and Jung the opportunity to separate the core team as the Enterprise is evacuated and the crew board the escape pods, which sends them scattering all over the dangerous and rocky terrain of Altamid, Krall’s home base. The consequent pairings are mostly a study in contrasts: the slyly quiet charms of Chekhov (the late Anton Yelchin) against the reckless swagger of Kirk; the nerdishly antic Scotty versus the physically superior but equally mentally resourceful Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), the white-skinned, stripe-faced alien with a talent for crafting holographic camouflage; and, most winningly, the literal-minded Spock and the cantankerous Bones (Karl Urban), two sides of the same antipathetic coin.

    Bones may not have the most tactful of bedside manners, but his de facto role as (marriage) counselor to both Kirk and Spock is arguably the most pivotal of all. Of the supporting players, Urban is truly showcased here, his exasperations with those who surround him and the circumstances that surface increasingly comical. He also delivers arguably two of the best lines in the film: “You gave your girlfriend radioactive jewelry? You gave your girlfriend a tracking device,” he remarks to Spock, who has revealed Uhura’s necklace contains an element they can use to track her whereabouts after she, Sulu (John Cho), and other crew members have been imprisoned by Krall.

    Unfortunately, that care and generosity don’t extend to Sulu, who feels more peripheral than ever. He’s confirmed to be homosexual but it’s more a cheap plot device – his partner and daughter are glimpsed briefly, then shown again during the third act when the Yorktown space station on which they reside is menaced by Krall. It’s meant to further engage audience sympathy but because it’s so tacked on, his family is just another set of faces in the crowd. Those broad strokes extend to Krall and Jaylah. One gets the distinct sense that Elba and Boutella were hired more for their personas than to provide any real depth of characterisation. If Boutella, so striking as the blade-legged Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service, fares better, it’s because Jaylah is clearly being positioned to be part of the Starfleet in future installments of the franchise. Unfortunately for Elba, neither Lin nor Pegg and Jung strive to make Krall more than a run-of-the-mill villain and the actor, hidden beneath layers of makeup and prosthetics, is woefully wasted though he does his best to render Krall a physically intimidating presence.

    For all its faults, Star Trek Beyond is a nonetheless fun confection, proffering a parade of distractions for pure escapist entertainment. Sometimes it’s enough to get the job done.

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  • RATING: (☆☆☆½ out of 5)


    IN BRIEF: This latest version is literally more focused when on the ground than in the air.

    GRADE: B-

    SYNOPSIS: The USS Enterprise goes on another rescue missionto thwart evil.

    JIM’S REVIEW: Let me begin my review with a confession: I have never been a Trekkie. As a teenager, I never quite understood the cult following that grew into a nationwide phenomena. The T.V. show had laughable effects, its plots strained credibility, and the acting was merely adequate, except for Leonard Nimoy as the beloved Commander Spock. The positive sci-fi message for me had an opposite effect on me.

    The film franchise has been a mixed blessing for me. Although vastly improved in its special effects department, and its casting upgraded, the big screen versions provided fine entertainment values with the popcorn as further enticement. The late two outings, under director J.J. Abrams, were the series’ most highly successful ventures…well-made sci-fi yarns rather than yawns. (In fact, the 2013 film, Star Trek: Into Darkness, was terrific entertainment and made my Top Ten list for that year.)

    Star Trek Beyond begins with our captain, James T. Kirk, filled with self-doubt and aimless, lost in his own thoughts and contemplating if he wants to continue his space duties. That is, until he is given a rescue mission which interrupts his unwarranted sulking. So it’s off he goes, past the second star to the right, with his faithful crew who are also going through their own personal dilemmas.

    This year’s final entry, (who am I kidding?), under the capable but less imaginative director Justin Lin (of Fast and the Furious fame), brings his trademark fast and furious style to these proceedings, with a full adrenaline rush than almost ruins the film whenever the action set pieces come into play. Most sequences are dark, murky, and choppy, with the majority of the action obscured by frenzied editing and jumpy in-your-face photography by Stephen F. Windon. The film seems caught in its own warp speed, unable to settle down to tell its tale. When an action film cannot show the action, something is off. (Director Lin is far more successful in the film’s quieter moments.)

    Fortunately, the film does have its assets: The CGI and set production is consistently strong. Its upside-down city (of Louisville? What a lame name!) is fun to observe, although it owes a lot to Christopher Nolan’s visionary film, Inception. The acting is fine and its cast highly likable. The literate script by Simon Pegg (Scotty in the film) and Doug Jung, involving the personal relationships of the USS Enterprise crew, is far more interesting and complete than all the crash and burning mayhem surrounding them. The humor and gentle remarks are particularly refreshing and add volumes to the characters.

    Chris Pine and Zachary Quito reprise their parts and continue to bring nuanced layers to their roles. Karl Urban is a standout as Bones, and Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho,and the late Anton Yelchin give strong support. Sofia Boutella plays a new character, Jaylah, and makes her a memorable addition to the series. However, Idris Elba as the villainous Krall is a second-rate baddie than never achieve true menace status. He’s mean but meaningless as well.

    Star Trek Beyond, the third of its newest entry and Chapter 13 in the entire film series, is not bankrupt of clever ideas but the movie plays it too safe. It doesn’t boldly go where no film has gone before. It still entertains, but it is more of the same, with less of the style and charm that has gone before it. Like its brooding lead character, Star Trek Beyond gets lost in space a bit before reaching a satisfying conclusion.

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  • It’s hard to imagine a series of films this successful based on a TV series that only made it to three years because of fans demanding it. I signed a petition back in college to keep Star Trek on the air but the next year it was cancelled and I just accepted it. I never had been wrapped up in the characters or stories but now, fifty years after it all started, I’ve seen all the episodes and movies and my son knows them all by heart. What keeps this franchise going? Movies like this one, Star Trek Beyond. They may not be fabulous acting and the script may be more than tad derivative but the movies are well done and entertaining. What more do you want for a humid summer day.
    When Simon Pegg was asked to write the script, the production company had thrown out the original written by Roberto Orci and they would not allow him to see Orci’s script so he could come up with fresh eyes and ideas. I have no idea what Orci originally wrote but Pegg did a great job using humor without losing the suspense. His characters are consistent with what we know they will be like in the future without looking cliché.
    Director Justin Lin has kept a pace that almost loses the characters and story it is so fast using blurred pictures and dark sets. It becomes difficult to follow who is doing what to whom but Lin maintains visuals that don’t allow the viewer to fall in some gap and not be able to follow the story. Still a lot of jiggly cameras often doesn’t convey anything more, sometimes, than jiggly cameras.
    This cast is the young group and they do their job well. We see their older characters taking shape. Chris Pine as Kirk is a little hesitant but then he goes for it. Zachary Quinto’s Spock is dealing with both sides of his nature. Bones played by Karl Urban is taking on the vocal mannerisms we know so well. John Cho’s Sulu is destined to be a commander. Pegg plays Scotty with a clear trajectory to the older Scotty. The only problem is the death of Anton Yelchin who played Chekov. Because these movies are prequels to the originals and Chekov is very much in the originals, the actor will have to be replaced or some strange rationalization is going to have to be used. Zoe Saldana is very much in the mold of the later Uhura, more pretty face than thinking character.
    With all these good guys we are left with only the bad guys to find something new and Idris Elba as Krall plays the villain with what seems to be a single minded evil until you get to know him. Elba is, unfortunately, covered with so much make-up that his face isn’t as expressive as he can make it but his voice drips evil.
    I give Star Trek Beyond 4 gravity defying space stations out of 5. We can predict before the movie starts how it is going to end but it’s still entertaining as we watch how they get out of one problem only to fall into another.

  • “Cut the throat.”

    Although I’ve seen a considerable number of episodes of the television series Star Trek at a young age, I’ve never felt like a real Trekkie. It fascinated me, but not to such an extent that I’d greet everyone in my daily life using a Vulcan salute. When the next generation Star Trek episodes started (with the charismatic Captain Picard), I was even less interested and existence of this series faded for me completely. Three years ago I saw “Star Trek Into Darkness”. And to my surprise this was already the 12th motion picture with the Enterprise still boldly going where no man has gone before. It really didn’t blow me away. It wasn’t so adventurous as in the television version where they repeatedly discovered new civilizations. Probably it has something to do with nostalgia.

    But to be honest, “Star Trek Beyond” made a huge impression on me with his breathtaking images and great action scenes. I was even a little bit moved by the scene with the Flagship Enterprise gradually being reduced to a pile of scrap metal. Seeing this legendary spacecraft lying completely destroyed on the planet Altamid, really hurts. But it’s common for every Star Trek episode that they find a solution to resolve the impossible situation. The same applies to this film. Although there were a few moments when it felt a bit exaggerated. But I have to say that the images from the Space Station Yorktown, the attack by Krahl’s swarm and the crash of the Enterprise were stunning and impressive. Yorktown is a spherical space station (with the look of a snowball according to Bones) with an ingenious gravity system. A futuristic-looking artificial planet which resembled what we saw in “Elysium” and “Interstellar”. And it’s populated by all sorts of races and creatures. And I must admit, the fantasy of the creators is still alive and kicking when it comes to creating alien species.

    Relocating the field of action to the surface of the planet Altamid was a smart move. The breakup of the crew in different groups and their attempts to regroup was a refreshing idea and contributed to the build up of tension. The warlike Krall (Idris Elba) has only one goal. And that’s destroying the United Federation of Planets by using the Abronath biological weapon. A weapon designed by his ancestors who lost control over this destructive weapon. Despite the immense layers of makeup, Idris Elba managed nevertheless to show an appearance full of expressions. Krall looked as threatening as ominous. The most exciting and fascinating character was that of Sofia Boutella as the alien Jaylah who can stand her ground in confrontations and also has some technical skills. What stood out were the various humorous situations and dialogues. Simon Pegg’s contribution I suppose.

    What bothers me the most about a movie like “Star Trek beyond”, is the casualness when solving certain issues. The technical (unintelligible) lingo is being used again at that moment. So, warpspeed isn’t functioning anymore? No problem. They’ll momentarily redirect some energy from the warp core to the impulse engines. Want to bring the compressors from a wreck back to life? One well-aimed shot with your laser gun will take care of that. And during a chase at the speed of light, a problem occurs that needs a quick solution. Again no problem. A blueprint is projected (and I guess they know its content by heart) and before you know it a ready-made solution is being offered . But isn’t this part of the charm of a legendary phenomenon like Star Trek? Otherwise they never could have gone boldly where no one ever set foot before!

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