Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

      Star Trek Beyond continues the story of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew whose ship has been ambushed, leaving them stranded on a strange planet and separated. It is now up to them to reunite and combat a new enemy named Krall (Idris Elba) who is quite familiar with the Federation the crew works for and looks to take it down.

     I thought that the entire cast was quite on their A-game. To me, the two biggest standouts were Karl Urban as the Enterprise doctor "Bones" McCoy and Chris Pine as Captain James Kirk. I loved the comic relief that Urban brought to each scene as well as grounded dramatic support to both Kirk and the character of Spock, played expertly by Zachary Quinto. While Zoe Saldana and John Cho weren't given much to do as Uhura and Sulu, respectively, even they still did a good job with what they were given. Sofia Boutella, who you may remember as the blade-legged henchwoman Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service, has a role as Jaylah, an alien on the planet the Enterprise crew lands on and I thought she was pretty good. She plays someone who is very steely yet with hints of vulnerability and profundity. Thank goodness the cast was very game and worked well off of one another because since the film hinges greatly on its characters and their personalities, if one actor didn't bring a lot of energy, it would've dragged the film down a bit.

      There are a few solid action sequences to be found. But the film manages to successfully be story and character-driven. It's about the crew finding their way back to each other and doing so through sheer tactic and will. The fact that it is so character-driven helps set it apart from other tentpole sequels that came out this year like Batman v. Superman and X-Men: Apocalypse which were all about effects and action sequences with casts so large, it'll have you playing the game of "Count All The Award-Nominated Actors There For A Paycheck."

     One gripe I have is with the scene where the Enterprise is being ambushed. Mainly because the editing was way too frenetic so I couldn't tell what exactly was happening or who got off in what escape pod and whatnot. I did like how it happened early in the film, though, so that it could already kick the film into high gear. Other than that, I have no egregious gripes with the rest of the picture.

     I will say that Idris Elba wasn't able to shine as much as the rest of the cast even though he's the main villain. But that's only because it's difficult to give a layered performance when you're buried under layers of prosthetics throughout most of the picture. I did think Krall's backstory, which I won't reveal, was interesting and I thought that him having attack ships moving together like bee swarms was very cool.

     Overall, Star Trek Beyond is a well-executed and harmonious mix of spectacle and storyline. Even if it isn't packed with action scene after action scene, the film kicks into high gear immediately and its band of actors are a ball to watch. This is some of the most fun I've had at the movies this summer.

Grade: A

Lastly, I just want to acknowledge the late great Anton Yelchin who stars as Pavel Chekov. I have enjoyed your performance in this and in all the other films that you have done. You were, and are, an on-screen treasure and you will be missed. Rest In Peace.