Trailers suck! “Star Trek Beyond,” for example, had an underwhelming trailer that looked more like a fan-made music video. Good news, the movie’s way better!
“Beyond” takes place two years after “Into Darkness,” and Kirk (Chris Pine) is now contemplating leaving the Enterprise, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is also contemplating leaving the Enterprise, and Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (the late Anton Yelchin), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Bones (Karl Urban), and Scotty (Simon Pegg) are all comfortable in their positions.
They take a side mission to assist an ally in need and are attacked by a diabolical alien named Krall (Idris Elba), who destroys their ship, forcing them to crash on his home planet. With little resources and an unlikely ally named Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), the crew struggle to find a way off the planet.
“Star Trek Beyond” redeems the series of all the cliches, objectification issues, and throwbacks that made “Into Darkness” an underwhelming experience. We’re now back to philosophy on life, death, and science like the series, and intermittent action like the 2009 reboot. It’s the best of both worlds.
The opening scenes with Kirk negotiating with an alien species are both slapstick and engaging, establishing the film’s fun tone. The fun tone further strengthens through the characters.
The second act of the movie takes a buddy comedy approach to “Star Trek” with the crew split into two’s. We have Kirk and Chekov impressing each other with wit, Spock and Bones bickering (and also understanding each other), and Scotty and Jaylah forming a bond over rap music (which, they call classical). Sulu and Uhura are paired together and imprisoned, so not much fun there.
The action is frenetic and masterfully directed, thanks to Justin Lin (the “Fast & Furious franchise), but it doesn’t have Abrams’s suspense factor. Speaking of underwhelming, it’s disappointing that an expressionistic and versatile actor such as Idris Elba is cast as a cliched villain we’ve seen in several “Star Trek” and comic book movies.
Elba works fine with what he has, but he’s not as menacing on screen as Nero (Eric Bana in 2009’s “Star Trek”) or Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch in “Star Trek Into Darkness”). I can forgive that since this movie is more about the crew, their bond, and their logic.
“Star Trek Beyond” is a pleasant surprise and even with a new director and screenwriter, and without Chekov (RIP Anton), the series will still live long and prosper.