Star Trek Beyond
2016, PG-13, 122 min. Directed by Justin Lin. Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., July 29, 2016
Captain Kirk (Pine) is bored. A regular Angela Chase, he fills his Captain’s log with long sighs. Three years into a five-year assignment steering the starship Enterprise hither and yon across the galaxy, it’s all just become so ho-hum, so humdrum for him. I’m right there with you, James T.
Kirk’s ennui breaks when the ship crash-lands on a distant planet, scattering the actors into micro-hives of ones and twos, in a blow to the ensemble cast’s collective chemistry. (They’re better when they’re all buzzing together.) Competent but heavy with dutifulness, the script by Simon Pegg (who co-stars as engineer Scotty) and Doug Jung (who cameos as Sulu’s husband) puts everyone in a place on this rock and gives them a purpose – a reason to go from point A to point B. But there’s none of the joyful, swashbuckling sense of adventure evinced in the film’s predecessors, nor a compelling case made for the stakes: Supervillain Krall (played by Idris Elba, regrettably covered in rhino-hide-like prosthetics) is a real drag, and his superweapon, the Abronath, sounds like something jaunty and tartan Scotty might pick up in a Highlands gift shop.
This third film of the franchise reboot is the first to be directed by Justin Lin, who took over the Fast & Furious series in 2006 and promptly sent down the assembly line four superjuiced machines of loving mayhem. (He replaces original Trek reboot architect J.J. Abrams, who in the Hollywood game of franchise musical chairs hopped to another Star with last year’s The Force Awakens.) Lin’s F&F films are operatically dumb, which is what makes them so much fun; maybe if Star Trek Beyond were stupider it wouldn’t feel like such a chore. Or maybe he just doesn’t have a feel for the material yet. Lin lavishes his attention on the massive-scale stuff – the space warfare, a Federation ship under construction, and, in the film’s freshest bit, a hand-to-hand combat scene turned hurly-burly when gravity revolts. But the human scale – the tending to these tiny animate beings we’ve been watching for 50 years – feels less carefully considered.