Star Trek: Beyond (2016)
Star Trek: Beyond (2016)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.

Release Date: July 22nd, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Justin Lin Actors: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Lydia Wilson, Melissa Roxburgh, Anita Brown

 


 

C

aptain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) attempts to deliver a peace offering from one alien species to another, but the episode goes terribly awry. Wearily, it’s just another day in the fleet, working for the United Federation of Planets. About three years into a five year mission, as his ship and crew continue to travel further away from Earth, Kirk begins to question what exactly they’re trying to accomplish; is it some endless goal, like the very reaches of space itself? He wouldn’t be too far off, considering that the premise of “Star Trek” lends itself to perpetual adventures with a seemingly random array of extraterrestrial entities. Technically, they’re tasked with searching for new life forms, with whom to establish firm diplomatic ties; but the mysteries of the universe are never so simple or agreeable.

Aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, Kirk governs a dependable crew of Starfleet officers, including his right-hand-man Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto), Doctor Bones (Karl Urban), Lieutenant Uhura (Zoe Saldana), engineer Scotty (Simon Pegg), and many other integral bridge members (such as Sulu [John Cho] and Chekov [Anton Yelchin]). But when Kirk is assigned a new mission – to rescue an alien crew stranded on an uncharted planet, which requires navigating through a hazardous nebula – the Enterprise encounters an unknown species of hostile invaders, led by Krall (Idris Elba), who will stop at nothing to obtain a secretive artifact called the Abronath. And the casualties and damage from this assault are tremendous, threatening the most feared of circumstances: the abandoning of the ship.

The film starts with some unconvincing computer-animated creatures (in an unrelated, comic relief skit), which is something of a departure from the many television series and theatrical movies prior to this latest endeavor. Typically, “Star Trek” inhabitants are humanoids: people in elaborate makeup and costumes. So the use of quadrupedal monsters rarely appears fitting in its worlds. Fortunately, Krall’s species returns to the classic design of men and women in ornate armor and extensive facial prosthetics, which works nicely with the massive sets and props and weaponry.

As anticipated, there’s a significant amount of action, not only with the initial attack on the Enterprise, but also with continual confrontations, such as shootouts, with the enemy. Sadly, the tension is fleeting, especially when the majority of these sequences are so heavily augmented by CG that any genuine stunts disappear in the visual chaos. This focus on a nonstop, fast-paced frenzy leaves little time for a motive – something Krall desperately needs to give him weight as a villain.

As the plot unfolds, it carries a familiar sense of spontaneity, with problems devised and then solved thanks to a touch of jargon and just the right technician for the job. Additionally, following one of the most recognizable staples of the franchise, a large ensemble of main characters are mostly impervious to harm, almost miraculously surviving death and destruction (and eventually ignoring wounds) – while nonessential personnel inevitably become demonstrations for the antagonists’ evil. Plus, English remains a predominant language even on remote planets. In the end, the various resolutions and solved mysteries hold little resonance, particularly since none of the characters are all that interesting and the script seems more appropriate for a television episode rather than a two-hour feature film.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10