The effects sparkle and the design dazzles in “Star Trek Beyond,” perhaps the best looking “Star Trek” movie ever.
And Simon Pegg — cast member and avid Trekker — has served up a pulpy and derivative script that panders to the fans, but generally pays off as it does.
Every cast member has a moment or two in the sun. Deaths are remembered. Neither Leonard Nimoy (Spock 1.0) nor Anton Yelchin (Checkov 2.0) will be around for Paramount’s just-announced fourth film in this latest iteration of the “Final Frontier” franchise.
Attention was paid to the villain, and even under makeup and effects, Idris Elba registers.
So yeah, we see another version of the U.S.S. Enterprise crash into a planet. Yes, another interstellar megalomaniac has it in for Starfleet.
Sulu (John Cho) finally comes out of the closet, Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) break up (like we didn’t see THAT coming) so that he and Bones McCoy (Karl Urban) can resume the Greatest Romance in Filmed Science Fiction.
Scotty, Simon Pegg’s character, lands his one-liners and may let the alien girl (Sofia Boutella) get him. For once.
And Kirk (Chris Pine)? He gets on a motorcycle and approves of The Beastie Boys, music to battle an alien menace by. Apparently.
Pandering? Yes. But pandering with polish.
Chris Pine’s Kirk is no longer wet behind the ears, so he’s contemplating abandoning their “Five Year Mission” for a desk job and promotion with two years to go. He’s a bit young to be feeling his mortality, but he’s figured out that if space and time are infinite, “What’s the point?”
His boss (Shohreh Aghdashloo) understands, seeing as how “There’s no relative direction in the vastness of space…It’s easy to get lost.”
Spock is having second thoughts about his career, too.
That’s the perfect time for a fresh alien menace to arise from a planet in the middle of a nebula. A hive of tiny ships piloted by reptilian beasties lure the Enterprise in, decimate the crew and wreck the ship. As the survivors struggle to survive on a planet dusted with aliens enslaved by this Krall (Elba) and his minions, and littered with wrecked spacecraft as well, we see this “doo-dad” that motivates Khan — um, Krall — and get to the big conflict at the heart of Pegg and Doug Jung’s script.
“There is strength in unity” the United Space Alliance members believe. But their martial foe has observed them and thinks they’ve grown soft. He’s been watching “Next Generation” re-runs with all that mincing about on the Holodeck, talking about one’s feelings. Just a guess.
“Struggle made us strong,” he says of himself and his kind.
Pegg plainly took the most pleasure in writing for McCoy and Spock. The script and the director (Justin Lin has been doing “Fast and Furious” movies of late) lean heavily on “family” and “teamwork” and comedy. The action beats often work, even if it’s harder to roll your eyes at all this “Enterprise” recycling with 3D glasses on.
As trite and repetitive as these movies have become, this weary franchise is still more fun or at least easier to sit through than any of those Diesel-powered car chase pictures. But is that enough for an audience that knows it’s being pandered to, and could finally be ready to move on, to “boldly go” see something else? I include myself in their number, and I don’t know the answer, either.
MPAA Rating:PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence
Cast: Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, John Cho and Anton Yelchin
Credits: Directed by Justin Lin, script by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung. A Paramount release.
Running time: 1:58