The latest Star Trek movie pulls us in with great ferocity and it never lets go. “Star Trek Beyond” makes an excellent case for the franchise as it celebrates its 50th anniversary going back to the original television program. With the third in the new Star Trek movies, first launched by director J.J. Abrams, we have reached a point where we can afford a touch more subtlety. And, having explored the Kirk/Spock dynamic rather thoroughly, it’s a good change of pace to turn a bit more focus this time around to Scotty. Yes, Simon Pegg, as Scotty, comes away one of the big winners this time around. Pegg co-wrote the script and, it may come as no surprise, he found a lot of new wrinkles in which to place his character.
By and large, this latest Star Trek film continues with an action-heavy plot. What it tries to do is deliver on some of the less flashy aspects to the franchise and it does a fairly good job of that. You do get a generous amount of banter between the characters. You do get thrills and plot twists. But, even more than action, what a movie franchise of this caliber can always use, considering its stellar cast and resources, is more compelling content. Ease up on the warp drive, breathe in and out, and allow the story and the characters to engage with the audience. But, hold on, I do think this movie is quite engaging and it is not without its thoughtful moments.
Now, this is what is going on right. First, you’ll have a good time with Chris Pine as Captain Kirk. He’s grown with the character. He remains very credible, the guy you want to follow and root for. You get every bit of gravitas you’d expect as Kirk rallies his crew: “We’ve come to understand there is no such thing as the unknown, only the temporarily hidden.” Early in, we follow Kirk down a corridor during a quiet moment. He ponders to himself, “The more time we spend out here, the harder it is to tell when one day ends and the next one begins. It can be a challenge to feel grounded even when gravity is artificial.” Ah, those are the type of nuanced moments of reflection we want. Actually, a little more in and we have a marvelous exchange between Kirk and Bones McCoy (Karl Urban) over some bourbon they found in Chekov’s locker.
What J.J. Abrams aimed for all along was a high wow factor. And that is definitely in place here. It’s very useful to critique a movie within context. That said, as far a providing an all-ages wow factor, this movie is off the charts. Honestly, a lot of what we want is an ultimate razzle dazzle contemporary version of the original show. This is exactly the sort of thing that a big studio is designed to do. The opening sequence, for example, is the gold standard. Kirk walks into an exotic looking chamber. High above is a council of elders made up of imposing gargoyles. Kirk thinks he’s there for a simple ceremony until he’s subjected to harsh questioning by the tribal leader. Things turn ugly and CGI mayhem ensues. It has just the right touch of humor, Kirk swagger, and element of surprise.
This movie is definitely not to be taken for granted. At the end of the day, yes, this is an adventure with an imposing villain, Krall (Idris Elba), and his legion of deadly fighters. You can count on the original show on steroids in that regard. But there’s more to it as well. Running throughout all three latest installments is a grounded storyline: Spock (Zachary Quinto) struggles with survivor’s guilt after his home planet of Vulcan was destroyed. And he finds in Lt. Urhua (Zoe Saldana) a compelling human connection. Perhaps more powerful than his connection to Kirk. We seek a good balance in these kind of movies and, overall, this Star Trek movie delivers. And, if we keep asking for more, that’s alright. This is Star Trek we’re talking about after all.
“Star Trek Beyond” is available on DVD and Blu-ray as of November 1st. And, if you’re a Seattle local, you can always stop by Video Isle and pick up a DVD or Blu-ray rental at Seattle’s best video rental store. Visit them right HERE. And visit them on Facebook right HERE.
6 responses to “DVD Review: STAR TREK BEYOND”
i can understand why someone would like this movie, i had a tremendous amount of fun while watching it though it displays the same problems the other rebooted movies have; in that they’re only satisfying on a surface level. the moment i dig deeper into the films the facade of quality quickly disappears. Take this film for instance, what in the story convinces Spock to stay with the Enterprise? his interactions with Kirk and Uhura are extremely limited due to the enterprise being blown up and the crew separating, then when they do meet up the plot and characters are focused on defeating Krall. There is very little character development for the majority of the movie, and instead we get explosions. It satisfies as summer fun, just like the other two.
btw thanks for the fave on one of my posts, i always appreciate people reading my stuff! Cheers
Quite valid points you make. I’m glad that these movies are out there but folks do appreciate nuanced character development and this franchise hesitates on that count. We get only hints of it, like in filling a quota. The movie does give quite a lot of screen time to a new character more action than anything else, Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella. She’s a good character but is mostly crowd-pleasing filler. All that said, the movie is a fun ride.
fair enough, i liked the movie as a popcorn flick as well.
Yeah, I good popcorn flick is worth something.
Excellent review Henry (I reviewed the film myself back in July), I loved all of the character moments and it really felt like the original series in a lot of ways – some of the action was a little visually hectic (far too much shaky cam) but made it all the more exciting.
I was also pleased with all the little nods and references to the original series – especially that line from Kirk you quoted about there being no such thing as the unknown, lifted straight from “The Corbomite Maneuver”, one of my all-time favourite episodes!
Indeed, there is a lot to enjoy here, including Easter eggs. A lot has been said about the muddled treatment of the movie’s villain, Krall. I think, overall, he’s a great villain. But I could have used some more exploring of the gray area he was dealing with. Thanks, Chris.