STAR TREK BEYOND
Author: JoAnne Hyde
Date: July 21, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise encounter an alien warrior race when marooned on a distant planet after the destruction of their spaceship.

Star Trek Beyond delivers most of the traditional features that fans expect, along with a few surprises.

The core USS Enterprise officers and crew are all back: Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Karl Urban as Dr. “Bones” McCoy, Zoe Saldana as Lt. Uhura, Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu, and Anton Yelchin as Chekov. Yelchin’s tragic death shortly before the film’s release will certainly be problematic if a fourth film is made. I can’t imagine a replacement for him – maybe a totally new character should be created.

Director Justin Lin gives the audience all the bells and whistles with eye-catching, if derivative, special effects, plenty of action, close escapes, and a bombastic musical score. I saw it in IMAX 3-D, but I don’t really think it’s necessary to spring for the extra cash. In fact, a regular screening would be a little easier on the ears and eyes. So unless you like your films loud and in-your-face, I don’t think the 3-D really added much.

As the film begins, both Kirk and Spock are feeling melancholy, although for different reasons, which makes for a bit of a slow beginning. Fortunately, the pace picks up when an unidentified ship approaches with a lone occupant, an alien named Kalara (Lydia Wilson), who begs for help in locating her lost ship that she claims crashed on a planet just beyond an uncharted nebula. Of course, Kirk jumps at the chance to enter uncharted territory, and the Enterprise sets out on what they believe will be a rescue mission.

Fans will know that the rescue mission will turn into something else – something much more dangerous, and they will be right on target. Ultimately, the crew of the Enterprise encounters a new and formidable villain, Krall (Idris Elba). Krall seems unstoppable and bent on destroying the Federation. He also harbors a secret that explains his hatred of the Federation.

When the Enterprise crew becomes separated and marooned on the planet beyond the nebula, with no way to communicate with the Federation, Scotty encounters an unexpected ally in Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), the lone survivor of her family who had been captives of Krall. She and her “house” provide invaluable help for Scotty and his shipmates. She also does some amazing things with holograms – easily the best effects of the film.

All the major cast members do well with their characters, and I was glad that Uhura and McCoy got more screen time in this film. Zoe Saldana gives Uhura depth and empathy and demonstrates that Uhura is well able to take care of herself. Karl Urban provides McCoy’s usual complaining about space travel, quite humorously, and the requisite amount of “Dammit, Jim” rebukes.

A new and massive space station, “Yorktown,” constructed near the edge of the frontier, is a little bit Interstellar and a little bit Tomorrowland. I don’t blame Lin for borrowing from the excellent Interstellar and the under-rated Tomorrowland – after all, if you’re going to borrow, borrow from the best.

Of course, the final scene is left open-ended. Both Pine and Quinto have agreed to a fourth film, so a sequel is almost guaranteed. The preview audience reacted enthusiastically, and although I don’t think either sequel has lived up to the first one in this trilogy, “Trekkies” will undoubtedly be pleased. - JoAnne Hyde

GRADE: B


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