Movies: Star Trek Beyond

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Idris Elba
Directed By: Justin Lin
Written By: Simon Pegg & Doug Jung
Paramount, 2016
PG-13; 122 minutes
4.5 stars (out of 5)


I'll start with the cons. (Khans? No, wait, that's something else.) I'm sure Justin Lin does great work with those Fast & Furious movies, though I've never seen one (I'm not into cars). But his camera direction makes me motion sick at times. It's as if he can't ever not have the camera moving, even when it's not necessary. And while I can appreciate that there is no up or down in space, I'd like not to feel like I'm on a Universal Studios ride when I'm trying to watch a movie.

And besides all the motion, there's the editing that is so fast and choppy that one can't really tell what is happening. There are moments in this film that are truly lovely, but they go by so fast one can't enjoy them.

There is also a brooding streak in this movie shaped by Kirk's opening narration via meandering log entry as he contemplates his career trajectory and his wallowing a bit over the fact that his birthday is the same as his dad's death day. Meanwhile, Spock feels burdened by a self-imposed obligation to procreate and extend the decimated Vulcan race and has his own musings of mortality upon learning of Ambassador Spock's death.

Finally, Uhura and Sulu get somewhat short shrift in this outing. But I understand that there simply isn't time in any one "episode" to give everyone a lot to do.

Those are my only major beefs with this latest Star Trek sequel. The pros outweigh them. It's a tightly written script that, after a bit of setup, moves quickly. The aforementioned brooding is mostly sidelined in light of ongoing action, which is just as well. There is the right amount of humor and the supporting characters are engaging.

The story goes something like this: the Enterprise docks in a newfangled outpost called Yorktown. When a distressed alien arrives asking for assistance, Kirk and his crew are sent off on yet another adventure. But they meet their match and then some in the person of Krall who is after a device that was on the Enterprise. Not clear how he knew it was there, but it's possible I just missed that bit. And it's very lucky for him, too, considering he's been searching for it for ages. But whatever. No time for that when there are crew members to rescue and Krall to stop from destroying Yorktown.

Elba as Krall makes a much better Khan than that last movie. But then again, Eric Bana as Nero was a better Khan, too. I understand why they did what they did with Into Darkness—going cold rather than hot with the Khan character—but it failed. In Beyond all the mojo is up and running once more.

Sofia Boutella as Jayla was also a standout.

Good use of rock and roll music. In fact, my six-year-old son had asked prior to going to the movie whether there would be any "epic music" in it. He was not disappointed.

I was glad to be able to indoctrinate my kids into Trekdom with this film. The "twist" isn't much of one—anyone paying attention can grasp it almost the moment the elements present themselves—but the entirety hangs together in a satisfying way. For the most part. And it moves so fast, you don't really have time to think too hard about it.

In short, highly entertaining. Which is all I demanded of it anyway.

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