Star Trek Beyond

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I’m not a Trekkie. My older brothers loved the original series, had all the toys, and various trading cards. I hated the cheesiness of the show and felt it was goofy. Yet when they made the movies with the original cast in the ‘80s, they were fun enough. With the reboots in the late 2000s, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. With this, the third film of the reboot, I was a tad disappointed. The movie didn’t feel like one of those summer blockbusters, but like one of those episodes from the original series.

J.J. Abrams, who directed the last two Star Trek films, is now just the producer. He handed the reigns to Justin Lin. He’s the guy who directed four of the Fast and Furious films and many times, this felt like one. There were so many action sequences that bored both my girlfriend and I (and she’s a big fan of Star Trek). At one point, Chris Pine gets on an old motorcycle to help with a rescue. I leaned into my girlfriend said, “Did he just turn into Steve McQueen?”

I was looking forward to this installment, after finding out Simon Pegg (engineer Scotty) co-wrote the film. His involvement with Nick Frost in Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, and one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a decade — The World’s End — really made me eager to see what he did. Unfortunately, there were smaller doses of humor than I anticipated.

The film starts off with a funny bit involving an attack by aliens, with Captain Kirk hinting at retirement. There’s also something going on with Spock, and we get the feeling he might be disappearing, too.

Here are a few of the disappointing things. Idris Elba, one of the best actors working today, was the villain Krall. Yet they have him covered in lizard-like makeup. Why? His motivations also seemed a bit odd.

The Federation starbase. It would’ve looked cool, if we hadn’t seen a similar one in Guardians of the Galaxy, Minority Report, and one of the Star Wars films.

That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to like. We’ve heard a lot about how Sulu is gay. It was very subtle and sweet how they worked that into the script. It was a mere scene at that starbase where he puts his arm around a guy that shows up to greet him, with a young daughter in tow.

And although Elba didn’t work (despite his menacing voice), the kabuki-face painted alien warrior Jaylay (Sophia Boutella of Kingman: The Secret Service) was terrific. You always chuckle when Scotty calls her “Lassie.” Although, with her doing so much ass-kicking, you wonder if Zoe Saldana was standing around the set saying, “What am I, chopped liver? What’s next, a red shirt for me?”

It was sad watching Anton Yelchin as Chekov, since he died in a recent car accident. He wasn’t given a lot to do, other than go over-the-top with his Russian accent.

My favorite, and the one that will be the crowd favorite, is the pairing of Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban) on a planet bickering. It was a blast.

Chris Pine seemed tired as Kirk, but that sort of fits the script for a character that is contemplating retirement. Yet having just come off of seeing him in Hell or High Water, one of the best movies of the year, it felt so anti-climatic.

There are some touches of humor that work wonderfully. With Spock and Uhura again doing the on again/off again thing, a punchline with her wearing a piece of jewelry he gave her is hysterical. I can’t explain why without spoiling, but Bones’ face…wow.

Another nice thing about this movie is how it seemed to not only be a nod to the original in so many ways, with a lot of little winks and nods…and also the Gene Roddenberry vision of diversity. If the cast came up with a solution, each crew member contributed to it. Even when the captain’s log is done at the end, you hear each of their voices. That’s never been done before.

Yet when I listened to those powerful voices at the end, I still felt the whole thing was rather uninspiring. It was like an episode of a sci-fi TV show, with lots of action; and some of the special effects were weak, too. Perhaps if the planet they were stranded on, was a lot more like the one in Avatar, that would’ve helped.

It’s safe to say the Star Trek fans will love it.

I’m giving it 2 ½ stars out of 5.

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