Star Trek Beyond (2016)
Directed by Justin Lin
With Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, Karl Urban and Idris Elba
Fast and Furious director Justin Lin takes the Captain’s chair for Star Trek Beyond, the third installment in the rebooted timeline of Kirk, Spock and co, during which the USS Enterprise is sent on a dangerous search and rescue mission. Co-written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, the film is a hollow, shop-fitted Star Trek experience for a theme park crowd, complete with all the proper ingredients and nothing new in-between.
While Beyond is every bit as slick and action-packed as J.J. Abrams’s incarnations, it’s also locked in their cycle, seeking little originality and worse, insists on telegraphed plot points that are explained with eye-rolling exposition, moments before they occur. While much of the character interplay is fun (Karl Urban being the pick of the bunch), the writing does nothing to make the Trek universe a more interesting place, rather, what should have been a bold leap into the unknown is more akin to jogging on the spot for two forgettable hours in the company of expensive CGI.
After an intriguing opening and a thrilling first act set-piece involving the Enterprise, the film hits a huge middle act slump that it never quite recovers from, as the story increasingly behaves like a bland rehash of a recycled Star Trek TV show. With a one-note baddie in tow, Lin is working with a story that is widely bereft of genuine peril (even when perilous stuff happens) – join-the-dots cinema, playing all the right beats and cues in a way that never challenges and seldom excites. It’s Star Trek by-the-numbers – safe and tidy in its determination to not stray from a certain path. While the idea of Trek playing it safe might be enough to satisfy some, it does nothing for the its future, and ultimately puts a question mark next to the overall health of the series.
If you like your sci-fi fantasy loud and inflated, Star Trek Beyond is a snack that might temporarily fill a hole. Many of the latter action sequences are boring and repetitive as character development is kept to a bare minimum in favour of stuff blowing up and all the things you knew were going to happen…happening. A par for a much loved sci-fi series that has always thrived most on the small screen…and should boldly go there again to find new life.