Review: Star Trek Beyond

With Star Trek now being directed by Fast and Furious director, Justin Lin, comes what seems like Fast and furious in space. This reboot of the beloved sci-fi series started out as an exciting new turn on the series but has also become more visually-reliant than story-based. The latest film installment doesn’t include many aspects that Star Trek hasn’t done before but offers a lot of visual wonder.

Star Trek Beyond features the infamous Starfleet crew continuing their five-year mission through the galaxy, who encounter an evil warlord named Krall who wants to kill them and take them as prisoners because…he’s the villain. They become trapped on an isolated planet and must escape Krall’s power. I wish I could say more about the story but there’s really not much else to it. Krall is basically the same villain who seeks revenge that Star Trek has done hundreds of times in the past. I was really hoping for some kind of story that they hadn’t done before but this one just felt like Wrath of Khan to me. Kind of like how Into Darkness was just Wrath of Khan all over again.

Star Trek has become a bit like Mad Max: It started out as this low budget series about people in the future and then became this loud, CG-driven action franchise that keeps people on the edge of their seats. This one is visually amazing and being from the same guy who did 4 of the Fast and Furious movies, I guess that’s all he wanted to do with it. To the film’s credit, it does pay homage to Leonard Nimoy, whose death is hinted throughout the story, and Anton Yelchin who tragically fell victim to the age 27 curse a month before the movie was released. There will be a part four to the series, but Chekov will no longer be part of it.

All the cast returns and are the same as they have been before, with the exception of Kirk who is now more responsible as a leader and less like a party animal. He’s even building that Shatner voice. Spock, now concerned with the death of his future self, thinks of retiring from Starfleet, which of course means he won’t. Sulu returns home with his partner who—oh did I not mention? Sulu is gay now, which surprisingly, George Takei doesn’t fully approve of. He always wanted to induce gay rights into the series but he never wanted Sulu to be gay. Being a series that’s always been about diversity, I think it works. It doesn’t play a huge role in the film anyway.

Even though this Star Trek wasn’t what I was hoping for, it works on some levels. Is it as thought-provoking or well-meaning as Star Trek has been in the past? Not quite, but as a fun Summer movie, I think you’ll be settled. I never liked to think of Star Trek as mindless action though, I always liked to think of it as what we might become in the future. Come on, maybe there aren’t Vulcans or Romulans out there, but we might make contact with some life out there. Maybe the franchise will improve as time goes on but that too is something for us to find out in the future.

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