Star Trek Beyond: A Review

Posted: 08/01/2016 in Uncategorized

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Despite my trepidation over the previews and “fast & furiosy” fears, this latest Trek run was remarkably good. Solid acting, very good action sequences and a deeply unexpected plot twist made for a truly good experience overall.

Simon Pegg’s artistic comedic flourishes were evident in various sequences, particularly the Bones McCoy (Karl Urban) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) moments. It is notable that this is the first run since the “reboot” of sorts that doesn’t reference original source material. There is a wonderful homage to the original cast including a touching arc involving the elder Spock, the late great Leonard Nimoy. The splendor of space odysseys is mirrored by the remarkable boredom and unrest one must occasionally face with such journeys. There is a goodly bit of depth and profound reflection, particularly as regards the alpha and omega of the series, namely Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock.

The film, however, does not become mired in heaviness as the fan complaints of the previous two films apparently reached the right people. There is an inordinate bit of levity and fun in “Beyond” thanks to the writing skill and comedic chops  of Mr. Pegg (Montgomery “Scotty” Scott). All characters gets due screen time and the introduction of a new character, Jayla (Sofia Boutiella) is a palpable hit. She is fleshed out and gels well with Mr. Scott and the Captain whom I will forever remember, thanks to her, as “James T.” Her chemistry with Scotty and then Kirk occurs organically and as such is duly rewarding. Her performance in this film in my mind assures her an ongoing role should the franchise continue as is.

While the action including a motorcycle sequence assault on their enemy was top notch, it is the human, character driven moments that define this movie. The Bones/Spock dynamic is heavily explored. The conversations between the two in which the implied respect they have for one another is given voice just work. Bones making Spock laugh is genuine; a beautiful, naturally obtained moment. The revelation that they aren’t all that different underneath is well presented. McCoy’s mocking Spock for his gift to Uhura (Zoe Saldana) was pretty damn funny, citing that he gave her something that was both “radioactive” and a “tracking device”. The facial, head shaking segments by McCoy sell it all wonderfully. The good doctor’s  advice on dealing with “earth women” is equally funny. McCoy’s scene with Kirk in which he swipes Chekov’s liquor for a birthday toast with the Captain yields “Who would have guessed, I thought vodka too..” The friendship which began in “Enterprise” is now entrenched and infinitely watchable on big screen.

Kirk finds his way to back to his true purpose via a pairing with Chekov (Anton Yelchin) in this run. This works as Chekov is more the voice of reason, while Kirk resumes his role as adventurer and man of action. Yelchin’s final performance for this franchise brought the optimism and wry intelligence both the man and character were known for. Uhura is paired off with Sulu (John Cho) who work together to undermine the villain du jour, Krall (Idris Alba) and get warning of his imminent attack  back to their “Yorktown” colony. Cho’s Sulu is again an mvp player particularly as regards the groups eventual departure from the planet. His personal family moments were nicely handled and gave his character a a bit more gravitas.

The moments with Uhura and Krall worked as well as she attempts to reach him or at the very least determine his motivation. His reference to the “Frontier” on repeated occasions provides a clue to his origins and motivations which eventually pays off splendidly. Elba’s performance gets a bit lost in the prosthetics; though his later sequences with Kirk do illustrate his genuine talent. For all his criticisms about his “Heimdall” role, I find it odd he would even take a part where his appearance is for the most part subsumed. Krall was a decent villain but assuredly did not reinvent the wheel. For the numerous complaints about “Into Darkness” which I argued was one of 2013-14’s best films in one of my earlier reviews, Cumberbatch’s “Khan” brought it with both a physically impressive and emotionally resonant performance. Just sayin’.

What allows this movie to stand out, however, is its standalone nature. The first two “Enterprise” and “Into Darkness” drew heavily upon source material and this was unavoidable as the two films were essentially a relaunch. With this latest film, the crew are their own animal. The chemistry between the core group is now earned and seamless. The tone was lighter, the outcome never really in doubt, but that’s okay. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and honestly the use of the Beastie Boy’s biggest hit as a means of tackling their technologically superior foes was top tier. ‘SAAAAABBBBBOOOOOTTTTAAGGGGE” indeed. You can’t help but smile when the crew rides off into battle and neither can they. Jayla’s proclamation that it is “her music” which she likes “because of the beats and the shouting” plays twice and kills both times it does.

There will hopefully be more Trek films to come. The final spoken word sequence was superb and very much set the bar for Trek’s resurgence as a viable film franchise. The handling of the original group’s legacy was given due homage and was perfectly delivered. Star Trek Beyond takes its place among the better Trek films, proving itself to be simply outstanding and well worth your time.

 

 

 

 

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