Starring Chris Pine. Rated PG
After putting together a new cast for Gene Roddenberry’s iconic bridge ensemble, and taking them through two prequel adventures, J.J. Abrams has handed off the directing reins to Justin Lin, fresh from the Fast and the Furious franchise. Despite angst from some of the Trek-movie faithful who felt that Trek was already getting too colourful and blockbustery, Lin was an obvious choice, having amply demonstrated his ability to blend playful spectacle with a sense of bonding among a chosen family.
This camaraderie is both the subject and subtext of Star Trek Beyond, which finally takes the new cast away from Earth-centred peril into the heart of their five-year mission.
At the outset, Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine) finds himself wondering about the purpose of their deep-space shenanigans. Strange new worlds are losing their appeal. He frets about having outlived his dad. If only he had a worthy adversary, someone who could truly endanger and therefore confirm his attachment to the Federation and his mission…
It’s a shame to hire Idris Elba for the antagonist role and then bury him under a reptile mask, but his Krall does convey real peril. Since the trailer has given it away, it is not a massive spoiler (warning: massive spoiler) to mention that the Enterprise crew finds itself wrecked on an uncharted planet in deep space, with nothing to save them but raw intelligence, witty banter, and a convenient new friend, the alien scavenger girl Jaylah (Sofia Boutella, spunky).
I have qualms about the movie, including pointless 3-D and arguably the most absurd Trek action sequence since the Lt. Uhura fan dance in The Final Frontier, if not the Melkotian re-enactment of the O.K. Corral. But Trek is inherently goofy, and that’s not a detriment. At its best, Star Trek is a story about people who know, and appreciate, that they are the greatest crew in the fleet. That’s what I felt as a kid watching a black-and-white TV, and for significant stretches of this movie, felt again. It’s not Beyond. It’s Back.