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Star Trek: Beyond

Justin Lin, who directed four of the seven “Fast and Furious” movies, is behind the latest “Star Trek” offering, and there are definitely times “Star Trek Beyond” feels like Fast and Furious in Space. The way Lin turned those basically empty action movies into stories about a makeshift family vastly improved them.  He brings that same intent to “Star Trek,” and it’s pleasing a lot of Trekkies, who care more about the crew than they do about the plot.  The last installment, “Into Darkness,” was blasted for being Star Trek karaoke — the actors were wearing the uniforms of Kirk and Spock, but the heart and soul was strangely missing.  Those fans should feel listened to. There’s plenty of banter and character moments, and that old hokey feeling is back again.

In “Star Trek Beyond,” it’s the close bonds formed from sailing through the vast reaches of space for years on end that motivate the characters. When the film begins – more than halfway through the original five year mission – Kirk is thinking about giving up his captain’s chair for one attached to the ground, but he can’t bring himself to tell his bestie Spock – who is also, privately thinking about leaving Star Fleet.

The crew embarks on a hastily assembled (and poorly thought through) rescue mission, and disaster strikes, because of course it does. Lin clearly has a lot of fun tearing the good ol’ USS Enterprise into pieces, but is he aware that this isn’t the beloved ship’s first death? It actually happens pretty often in the Star Trek movies, and so I think some of the shock is lost on us.  It was on me anyway.  The crew ends up stranded and separated on an unknown planet, (well, the members of the crew whose names we know – the rest end up killed or captured) and it’s up to Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scottie and Chekov to find each other, find the prisoners, and get back home before the bad guy can get the MacGuffin and destroy the world, because he hates peace and freedom.  And because that’s what bad guys do.  The climactic moment is pretty cool, in that it incorporates the Beastie Boys’ second-best song “Sabotage” directly into the action (there’s that Lin touch again) but also pretty lame, in that it’s basically “blah blah technospeak we’ll blast some music at them and that’ll defeat them.”  I can’t imagine a single soul in the theater understanding how or why that was going to work, but hey, it looked cool.

I liked “Into Darkness,” and I like it a lot more than “Beyond.” I guess I’m not that big of a Trekkie, because I’ll take an exciting plot over an extended TV episode in a blink.  And that’s what “Beyond” feels like – an extended episode of the original series, with better CGI effects. Nothing ever really feels at stake here; regardless what happens, you never doubt that the crew will reunite, the ship will be rebuilt, and they’ll be back on their mission as if nothing ever happened by the time the credits roll. From a filmmaking perspective, “Star Trek Beyond” has everything a fan could want, except an ounce of ambition.

 

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Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

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