Cocktails And Movies Review: “Star Trek Beyond” – New Director, Same Stellar Track Record

by Mike Reyes

Make no mistake, Star Trek Beyond goes to great lengths to prove that this 50 year old still has some impressive moves.

With a story that pays homage to, rather than flat out remake, some classic Trek movie story beats, Star Trek Beyond is a bold step into the future for a franchise celebrating its 50th anniversary. The new sequel takes advantage of having Fast & Furious director Justin Lin at the helm, as well as writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung wordsmithing the whole thing, amounting to a lot of new talent involved behind the camera on this third voyage of the starship Enterprise. And the best part is, you can’t tell the difference at all!

In the midst of their five year mission in deep space, the USS Enterprise’s crew is suffering some stereotypical ennui. Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) are experiencing some complications in their relationship, Kirk (Chris Pine) is having an existential crisis, and the rest of the crew are dealing with their extended stay in space in their own ways. All personal matters are put on hold though, after a re-supplying stop has entangled the crew in their latest mission: the investigation of a rather perilous nebula that’s hiding the deadly Krall (Idris Elba) and his secret plan to wreck havoc on the Federation.

Star Trek Beyond Sledgehammer

With Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, the famed science fiction franchise rebooted itself in a way that was both daring and yet safe. The safety angle was only further heightened in the first sequel to J.J. Abrams’ modern incarnation, as the resurrection of Khan turned Star Trek Into Darkness into a film that seemed to signal a franchise bent on retreading the classics. Thankfully this isn’t the case, as Pegg and Jung’s story of no-fat spectacle hits hard and fast, with an original menace looking to take down the Enterprise and her crew. Come to think of it, Krall is probably the darkest Star Trek villain to be seen for some time in the movies. While there’s still plenty of humor to be had, Star Trek Beyond knows when to make you laugh, and when to go for the more sinister angle.

Of course, the entire crew of Star Trek Beyond continues to breathe new and exciting life into the classic characters that they have embodied. This time though, we are treated to several separate stories that feature some interesting combinations of crew members. If you’d ever wondered what a buddy action / comedy between Spock and McCoy would feel like, you’re about to find out in practice as they’re paired up for a majority of the film. It’s these compartmentalized stories that make the narrative for Star Trek Beyond all the more fun, as the various components and characters work towards an eventual reunion that really takes advantage of the moments it has everyone in the same room.

Also, in a time when people love to complain about how worthless modern villains are, Idris Elba’s Krall is a pretty inspired choice in baddie, as his eventual plot feels like something done in one of the worst Star Trek films ever, Star Trek Insurrection. As a matter of fact, if there was a combination of films that Star Trek Beyond feels like it’s cribbing from, it’d be Insurrection and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. This isn’t a knock against the film, rather a reverent reference to the older Trek films that helped lead the way to Star Trek Beyond. Though here’s hoping that Elba gets some time off from playing the heavy soon, as he’s proven to be one of the most menacing figures at the box office this summer, between this role and that of Shere Khan in this summer’s The Jungle Book. Though Krall’s storyline does lead to one of the only gripes about the film, as a third act reveal involving his backstory really should have had more development throughout the film.
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Most impressively, director Justin Lin reminds the audience why he’s still a man in demand after redefining The Fast and The Furious franchise with the third entry in the series, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift. In fact, it’s clear that while Lin has a vision that’s unique to Star Trek Beyond, he’s so good at knowing what a franchise needs that he can slip in without notice and keep things going. Even an inspired musical cue that highlights the film’s most impressive action sequence is something that J.J. Abrams had done in his first Star Trek film. The only difference is, Lin’s Beastie Boys moment outdoes both of its predecessors tributes, as well as ranks with the best action moments of the brand new reboots. With a keen eye for action, Lin gives the new Star Trek universe some of its most eye popping stunts yet.

With action that continues to please our inner adrenaline junkie, and a storyline that questions everything the Star Trek universe stands for, Star Trek Beyond defies the expectations of fans. The film keeps the spirit of old Trek alive, while at the same time giving it a well received fresh coat of paint. It’s everything a summer movie should be, and more.

My Rating: 4/5