Review: 'Star Trek Beyond' Pushes Ahead in Typical But Fun Directions

July 22, 2016

Star Trek Beyond Review

After six complete series on television and twelve (!) feature films so far, it seems a rather difficult task for the Star Trek franchise to go where no one has gone before, boldly or not. There are only so many worlds in which the crew of the USS Enterprise can venture and only so many adventures they can undertake before it all starts to bleed together into a big, sci-fi mess. That's not entirely the case with their latest excursion, though you certainly wouldn't notice on paper. It plays like a one-off, run-of-the-mill story centering on Captain James T. Kirk and his crew, but Star Trek Beyond has something of an ace up its sleeve in the form of director Justin Lin (of Fast 5 and Furious 6 most recently). He keeps the mood light and the action consistent, and, though it's nothing new, the film finds its way to boldly go towards goodhearted adventure.

Kirk, played once again by Chris Pine, isn't so sure he's up for these treks any more. When the film opens he and the crew are in the third year of their latest five-year mission, traveling the galaxy to vast, alien worlds and exercising in as much diplomacy along the way as they are exploring. Kirk finds the diplomat title suiting him less and less, and he questions his placement in the captain's chair as the Enterprise arrives at Starbase Yorktown, a bustling city in the middle of the galaxy.

Before he can commit to the role of Vice Admiral, though, Kirk and the Enterprise find themselves swept up in yet another quest. The lone survivor of a ship stranded in a nearby nebula asks for Starfleet's help in rescuing her own crew, and the Enterprise immediately launches itself into the mission. What they find on the other side of the nebula, however, is anything but a ship needing rescue. A mysterious, alien race led by a warlord named Krall (Idris Elba) attacks the Enterprise leaving it grounded on a nearby planet and scattering the crew around the planet's surface. It's up to the ingenuity and determination of Kirk and his chief officers to overtake the mysterious race and, naturally, save the galaxy from a nefarious threat.

Star Trek Beyond Review

As I said: the adventure is nothing groundbreaking or fresh as far as Star Trek quests go, but screenwriters Doug Jung and Simon Pegg, who also reprises his role here as Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, do a fine job keeping everything lean and breezy. The task at hand is rather surface level with there being little more depth in the main storyline than good guys versus bad guys. There isn't even much room for grey area when it comes to character motivations, and this leaves the question of suspense off the table this time.

Instead we're left with the inner struggles of the Enterprise's crew. Kirk's desire to leave the captain's chair behind him and Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) also debating his position on the ship make for interesting developments on their respective characters, though these conflicts hardly register during the actual adventure. Krall's motivations and his origin aren't even addressed until late in the game, and, by that time, there's no more room for impact on the overall story. But, hey, that's all well and good when the jokes and bouts of excitement are hitting on all cylinders.

Jung and Pegg keep the pacing of the film at a steady progression, and Lin's ability to create interesting shots and exciting sequences of action keep the drawbacks of the film's story at bay. The director utilizes digital effects to craft some stellar, camera movement around the ship's exteriors; and cinematographer Stephen F. Windon creates depth in the smoky corridors and rooms of the starships. It's some of the best lighting within the ships we've seen in the Star Trek franchise since the original films with the original crew. Some of the close-up action is a little too frantic to get a decent grasp of what's going on, a typical side effect of blockbuster action in 2016, but Lin's handle on the bigger picture is a welcome addition to the franchise.

That grip is equally noticeable in Lin's handling of the series' impressive, ensemble main cast. Jung and Pegg's screenplay allows for more of the individual moments that made the original cast so lovely and loveable, but it's Lin who gets each of his actors in their respective, suitable places. Pine's Kirk is brash as ever, and those daddy issues aren't going anywhere. The character has matured over the course of these past three films, though, and the actor's performance follows suit. Quinto's Spock still holds logic in the highest regard, but the comedic moments he's allowed here give the actor a much-needed air of levity. Karl Urban once again brings a familiar cynicism to Dr. McCoy giving his scenes with Pine and Quinto that sense of camaraderie that was always so prevalent with the original cast.

Star Trek Beyond Review

This time around, though, Zoe Saldana's Uhura, Anton Yelchin's Checkov, and John Cho's Sulu are allowed to play their respective characters with some added development. Though there is definite room for each of them to be established further, what we're given here is well enough for the single mission they're on in this movie.

As far as wastes go, though, Elba's Krall is a character screaming for much more. The actor is buried under mountains of prosthetics and makeup to create the lizard-like warlord, but even this shouldn't be enough to hide the actor's performance underneath. It does. Elsewhere Sofia Boutella does all she can with her performance as Jaylah, an enigmatic alien with striking facial features who is stranded on the planet along with the Enterprise crew. It isn't enough as Jaylah is given little backstory and even less to do aside from being able to hold her own in the action sequences.

These missed opportunities aren't enough to make Justin Lin's Star Trek Beyond a complete waste of time, though. The new writers and director do a commendable job delivering a fast-paced, entertaining entry into the Star Trek saga that is sure to continue on well past its planned five-year mission. The feeling that the film could have been something more notwithstanding, Star Trek Beyond does its duty in providing a good amount of space adventure and an even bigger dose of comedic relief. The blip it leaves on the franchise radar is an undeniable one. It just isn't very deep.

Jeremy's Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Follow Jeremy on Twitter - @JeremyKKirk

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Reader Feedback - 35 Comments


This is good. I didn't expect much but it sounds worth the price of admission.

Jon Odishaw on Jul 22, 2016


I thought it was very much worth it. Liked it quite a bit.

Scopedog on Jul 22, 2016


Well I'm just on my way to it now!

Jon Odishaw on Jul 22, 2016


Is it explained why Krall hated so much the Interprise crew?

tarek on Jul 22, 2016



Steven on Jul 22, 2016


Hopefully it isn't a Khan ersatz.

tarek on Jul 22, 2016


Nah, it isn't. 🙂

Scopedog on Jul 22, 2016


sigh of relief. ;D

tarek on Jul 22, 2016


I find the irony amusing that a "Kirk" wrote this review. But seriously, great review! No spoilers and a solid critique of what worked and what didn't. Well done! I'll probably matinee it...

RAW_D on Jul 22, 2016


Star Trek. I just don't get it. Never have. Yet here it is. Again. Amazing. Lucky for those that like it though. I guess.

Bo on Jul 22, 2016


god you sound like a douche

Bob on Jul 22, 2016


Just because I don't get Star Trek? Really? Who's the real douche here, man. Grow up!

Bo on Jul 22, 2016


Not because you don't "get" Star Trek, but because you sound like an asshole about it. Calling it "low brow" and insulting people who enjoy it doesn't make you sound intelligent, Bo. It makes you sound like a douche.

Bl00dwerK on Jul 24, 2016


Well, that's just your opinion, whoever the hell you are with a silly name like that...and your opinion hardly matters to me and is in fact quite worthless. Why? Re-read my original post...all I said was that I didn't get it. That's all...and that those that liked it were lucky. Why all the silly name calling and immature outrage over that? Yes, my reaction to those silly name calling immature replies was that it is what it is...which is low brow, appeal to the lowest common denominator of the mass audience with the herd mentality. Now, if you have a problem with that it means that you are either unwilling or don't possess the intelligence to see that that is the truth. It's a money making endeavor geared to the lowest of the lowest common denominator of the herd and succeeds. That's a fact. Nothing wrong with liking trash, simplistic junk like this. What's wrong is not knowing that's what you are watching and taking offense when someone speaks the truth about it. That's just an uneducated, immature position to take displaying a frightening lack of sophistication. I can't be troubled by people who react to me from that position that they might be 'insulted'. I didn't insult anyone with my original post, yet received numerous replies attempting to insult me. It's just dumb. They can't insult me; those with the unsophisticated and immature name calling rude and disrespectful level of intelligence. I notice that you don't take issue with their posts. Why is that? Are you one of them? They, and you, bring it on yourself with your silly, immature reactions to someone who doesn't like the kind of trash that you do. Get over it and grow up. There are plenty of those that share your distorted perceptions. Take solace in them and stop biting off more that you can chew attempting to engage with someone who is much, much smarter that you. And to lower myself to the 3rd grade level of mentality you all enjoy by name calling someone a god that's so childish...but takes one to know one, righto? Cheers.

Bo on Jul 25, 2016


It's not just my opinion. There have been other comments besides mine.

Bl00dwerK on Jul 25, 2016


Ah, safety in numbers...I see. My point exactly and how these movies appeal to that mentality. That's the herd sheep...gathering together to seek safety as they are too frightened to go it alone and hate, hate others that do not join the group. It's just ignorance and it ain't bliss as the old saying goes. You take care now. I wish I could say it's been a pleasure....but you know...I don't take great pleasure trying to reason with the safety in numbers herd mentality. You all misunderstand so very, very much. A sad thing indeed. I'm sure you're a nice person, or like to think of yourself as such...I wish you well as you move through life huddle within the masses.

Bo on Jul 25, 2016


I don't care if you like Star Trek or not. My point is you're an asshole.

Bl00dwerK on Jul 25, 2016


So what? I don't care what you think. Why would you even entertain that thought? Of course, I am not an asshole as all that really know me would attest to. It is pretty typical of lame people on the internet that find comfort in labeling people smarter than them assholes. You might want to think about growing up and accepting that there are many people smarter than you and they will not only disagree with you concerning movies, but just about everything else. Live with it and quit behaving like an asshole. Really. Look in the mirror to see the real asshole. You could't be more wrong about me, and that too is typical of the herd mentality. Always wrong. Always embracing a distorted perception to suit their insecurities. Now, enough. I wish you well, but this is seriously beneath me...all over Star Trek movies. It's embarrassing.

Bo on Jul 25, 2016


If you don't care what I think stop responding. Don't follow the herd.

Bl00dwerK on Jul 25, 2016


My god, you people are such immature morons. How the hell do you live with yourself? Ignorance is indeed bliss. Who'd of thought it? Cheers!

Bo on Jul 25, 2016


I guess you thought it since you're the one who posted it.

Bl00dwerK on Jul 25, 2016


Well, I have had enough, that's for sure. I am flabbergasted at the low level in which you continue to being in the 3rd grade again...and it's just gets worse and worse and now it just doesn't make sense. You poor damaged creature, but I bid you farewell and wish you well...lost soul that you are....good wishes...I mean you no harm even as rude and crude as you are, but this has become pathetic.

Bo on Jul 25, 2016


Thanks for playing!

Bl00dwerK on Jul 25, 2016


You're welcome...but how come I feel dirty? gator....

Bo on Jul 25, 2016


You must be real fun at parties.

Alexandre Goyette on Jul 23, 2016


Yea, I've seen this same retort many times here. What do you guys do, go to school to learn to post such silly and childish statements. Really, what does that mean? Of course I'm fun at parties, but the parties I go to are populated with very intelligent and sophisticated people and we all have a great deal of fun. Come on, Alex. This crap ain't Birth of a Nation or Citizen Kane or The Godfather low brow fodder for the masses. If that is upsetting to you then you need to get a grip and reevaluate your aesthetic tastes. And stop being offended when someone might not share your same low brow tastes. Cheers.

Bo on Jul 23, 2016


So what's your thing then? Star Wars? And whats your beef with Trek? Not trolling, just curious....

RAW_D on Jul 23, 2016


Thanks for your reply and question. At least it's an intelligent query. I've no beef with Trek. I just don't get it and all the attention it's gotten through out the years. That's all. I don't get ballet either, but appreciate the art form. I don't get Opera either, but again, appreciate the art form. Nothing more than that. Is that upsetting to some too? My There seems to be a lot of immature guys here that like this mass audience appeal kind of thing that have a very difficult time with those that might not share their taste for this type of thing. I chalk it up to insecurity and immaturity and low self esteem. I could give a blast if people don't like the things, movies, etc., that I do. Of course, I'm a grown up, mature and intelligent man with a degree of self having a bit of fun. Which was what I was doing in my original post and even stated it was lucky for those that like Trek that these things keep coming out. What's with all the anger around not having a taste for this kind of thing. It ain't Citizen Kane or Apocalypse Now for chrissakes! Oh well, tough to deal with mentalities that are such as those of children playing in the 3rd grade sandbox during sorry...just having fun. Thanks again, Raw...I appreciate your intelligence and hope I've answered your question to your satisfaction. Do you like these Star Trek movies? If so, why? I'm not trolling either. I too am curious....

Bo on Jul 23, 2016


Ah! Well, different strokes, different folks. And opinions are like armpits, everyone's got them and they usually stink if they're not our own. I myself have never really been a fan of the Star Trek franchise previous to the reboots. I appreciate what it did for science, and that a lot of technology was born out of what was shown in the series, but to me, it was always just kind of "Meh." The reboots are enjoyable for their sense of adventure and "swashbuckling" sensibilities. They're not perfect by any means, but they serve their purpose for escapism. And while I enjoy more serious and art films from time to time, I find as I get older, they tend to appeal to me less and less. I guess there's enough realism in the world for me, and I prefer the more fantastical and surreal big budget films (when they're good). For me, Star Wars has always captured my interest more than Star Trek, as it was more focused on adventure and the characters, rather than the political and scientific aspects of the mythologies.

RAW_D on Jul 25, 2016


Thanks for your very intelligent and well stated reply, Raw. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this kind of reply and discussion. Not much to say as you made yourself very clear as to how you feel. I understand the getting older and how difficult films of a realistic nature can be in the world which we live in today. I have never been able to find 'escape' from viewing movies that appeal to the mass audience's need for escape through entertainment. It usually depresses me as it's so simplistic and usually maudlin and sentimental that I feel worse than I did that's just me. On the other hand, when I see films made by artists who are commenting on the world around them and they do it with intelligence and talent I feel pretty good knowing their are still those among us that are like me and are attempting to deal with the world and not attempting to escape from it or make money helping people escape from it. Again, that's just me. I appreciate your current stance and desires for the movies you like now. That's cool. Not for me to judge. I just cannot seem to be able to do that. That's cool too. At least it is to me. Take care and thanks again for the intelligent and respectful exchange of view points and perceptions concerning movies. I enjoy doing that.

Bo on Jul 25, 2016


Two of my favorites as of late: WhipLash and HER. Those movies were refreshing and amazing. Don't get too many like that these days....

RAW_D on Jul 25, 2016


Yea, I liked Whiplash although I'd of never allowed a man to treat me like that dude. I played high school football and our coach was pretty heavy, but not like that! plus, we won our state championship for the first time in our school's history so it was worth it. But that was it for me. I've never allowed anything close to that since and our guy spread it around. If you did your job your were okay...and I was one of the stars so he left me alone. Whiplash was an interesting movie though, but don't you think the guy was a bit of a prick and went a little over the line? say the least? I like the Miles Teller kid and look forward to watching more of him. HER, not so much. I've never been able to get thru the darn thing! stroke and all that. Cheers. Oh...p.s. The latest film I really, really liked was The Drop with Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace and Matthias Schonerarts. Just a great, gritty, dark movie that fired well on all cylinders.

Bo on Jul 25, 2016


I had a teacher in HS that was like J.K. Simmons when teaching GEOMETRY. I put up with it then. I encountered a similar professor in college and I stood up for myself and almost got kicked out. I got a standing ovation from the class though. But yeah, I wouldn't tolerate that ridiculousness. I saw most of The Drop, but stopped watching because I felt like it was going to end badly, and I would end up hating it. Stellar cast and acting!

RAW_D on Jul 26, 2016


Thanks for the reply, Raw. Glad you stood up to the prof in college...and got a standing's funny. Now, let me understand saw most of The Drop but then stopped?...because you thought it might end badly?, my....actually, it wrapped itself up very well indeed and you missed some really good work, scenes, etc. Like when the cop, played by the wonderful John Ortiz, says to Hardy...'no one sees Bob coming, do they Bob'? Great line, great reaction from Hardy, great way to sum up what the whole picture and the Bob character was really the ending scene between Hardy and Rapace is nice too..very subtle...very different and unusual. I can't believe you stopped watching a movie as good as this one!! I've never heard of such a thing. You might, and I am not one to say one way or another, but you might want to view it again and watch THE WHOLE THING this care. Cheers!

Bo on Jul 26, 2016


Didn't like the trailers that much...but the review changed my mind will catch it tonight itself!nn

Rahul R on Jul 24, 2016

Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.




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