Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond

Third episode of the reboot series offers impressive action but an unmemorable plot

Star Trek Beyond
Directed by Justin Lin
With Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg. Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana. John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella

The adventures of the starship Enterprise continue with a fairly solid if slightly uninspired story of a rescue mission gone wrong. This is the third film since the series based on a 1960s TV show relaunched into an alternate time line, and the 13th film since Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979.

The crew of the Enterprise arrives at Starbase Yorktown, a giant megacity in space. Captain Kirk, (played again by Chris Pine) is having existential doubts and considering taking a desk job after a failed peace mission. Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) are having a lovers' tiff and Sulu (John Cho) meets up with his family.

This idyll can't last long, and it doesn't. The Enterprise is lured into a rescue mission in a nebula that is much less straightforward than promised. This provides the basis for some well-staged action as the crew fights a series of battles both in space and on land. The action scenes are impressive, and should be with a budget estimated at $185 million.

Many of the best lines of comic dialogue fall to Simon Pegg, as Commander Scott. It is a curious coincidence, as Pegg was one of the screenwriters. But Scotty always was the cast member to provide comic relief as he came up with plans to keep the engines running beyond their design specifications, so it isn't out of character.

The new cast is supposed to be younger versions of the original 1960s TV cast. Spock was played by both Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy in the first two film of the reboot. Nimoy died in 2015 at the age of 83, and appears in a photograph along with the rest of the original crew in this new installment.

Most of the cast is spot on, with Quinto in particular getting Spock's character and Pegg doing a great job as Scotty. Chris Pine as James Kirk has been a bit of disappointment, missing a bit of the captain's egotistical swagger.

Uhura has been updated a bit, as the original role was a bit thin. Zoe Saldana brings a human aspect to the communications officer. Rounding out the major cast, Karl Urban nails the role of Dr, McCoy, forever complaining about the primitive tools he is forced to work with.

The characters playing Sulu and Chekov, John Cho and Anton Yelchin respectively, had little to do in this episode. Yelchin in real life died just before the film was released in an incident involving a rolling vehicle. Reportedly, his character will not be replaced in the next film.

The villain was a bit disappointing. Idris Elba plays Krall, a warrior leader searching for some long-lost final piece of a weapon. It is a fairly one-dimensional role, even if in the end there is a twist. The power hungry alien dictator with a growling voice has been done countless times, and there is not much new here.

There has been a movement to make Idris Elba the next James Bond. He is a good actor, but this time he was a bit lost under all the heavy makeup.

Scoring much better was Sofia Boutella as a rebel on the planet where the action take place. She created a tough and resourceful survivor, a welcome change from the damsels in distress that plague action films. There were some hints she may return in the future, so hopefully we will see her again.

The plot of the film, for all its well-staged action, is a bit run of the mill. The individual action scenes are much more memorable than the overall story of a maniac wanting to dominate the galaxy. It is bit less compelling than the first two episodes of the reboot series.

But that should not bother the diehard fans. In a summer of disappointing blockbusters, Star Trek reliably delivers on it formula of action and comedy, with the familiar cast of humans and aliens managing to work together despite or perhaps because of their differences.

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