ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
Trek was never my bag. I was always content with my “Star Wars” and my “Lord of the Rings” growing up, when I finally sat down to watch episodes of “Original Trek” and “The Next Generation” my response was “eh, it’s ok.” My finally checking out Trek was after seeing the first reboot in 2009, which my mom had voiced interest in (apparently bigger on Trek than I was).
Trek ’09 isn’t high art, but it plays fine. I’ve seen it on cable a few times over the years. Like everything else from this property, it goes in one ear and out the other, but in a much different way from other Trek properties.
“Star Trek: Beyond” has more elements in play that one would associate with Star Trek. It has a slow pace to its plot, an emphasis on exploration and world building, different from Trek ’09 and “Into Darkness”, which emphasized action. There is plenty of action in Beyond, however, enough to avoid a comparison to harder, headier sci-fi.
There’s enough smarts so that the viewer can feel their intelligence isn’t being insulted, and enough action so that they don’t feel bored. A criticism could be applied here that Beyond is too eager to please its audience, but it all gels fine. The film is rarely dull, and often satisfies with resplendent spectacle.
Captain Kirk and Co. accept a request to escort an Alien through a treacherous nebula. They are assaulted by an alien with mysterious motives named Krall (Idris Elba). I shan’t spoil too much. What appeals to me about “Star Trek: Beyond” are a lot of the technicals. Krall is not a CGI alien, in fact most of the time it looks like director Justin Lin has him in a rubber suit.
Some may find it antiquated, but I appreciate the thought of the filmmakers in doing this. I also had a hard time really getting to understand Krall’s motives, because up until the end of the movie his motives, and overall character, seemed muddled. What they reveal about him at the end of the movie is interesting, but I yearned for it to have been explored more, either in the movie proper or in more additional scenes.
If I have any criticisms, it’s that Beyond doesn’t offer any engaging character work until the last 30 minutes when Krall’s tragic backstory is elaborated on. There seems to be a lot of this cast going through the motions, which I suppose is pretty typical for a 3rd movie. Spock and Uhura’s relationship troubles strikes a dull note, and seems robotic. The cast is just doing some of the things that worked last time, and you don’t always notice this lack of energy.
Oftentimes you don’t notice because the spectacle is so friggin spectacular. That scene in the trailer where Kirk gets beamed up while riding a motorcycle? It looks magnificent on the big screen. The space battles are great, and it’s nice that these space battles are in a movie with some atmosphere and at least a little bit of decent character work.
“Star Trek: Beyond” is the perfect movie to see during the summer, you don’t need to engage with it too much, and the little you do have to engage with it leads to a stimulating experience for the viewer.