Review: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

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The third entry in the most recent Star Trek franchise, this time directed by Fast Five’s Justin Lin, recaptures some of the original series’ magic through its dedication to character and ridiculous fun. As scripted by Doug Jung and Simon Pegg (who carves himself out a more substantial role as Scotty), the narrative is messy, often dull in its midsection as Krall (Idris Elba), a ruthless enemy, destroys the USS Enterprise and captures the crew in an attempt to lay his hands on an artifact that will help wipe out the entire Federation. Krall’s motivations are never made entirely clear and, while Elba is a tremendous actor, there’s only so much even he can do with a role this underwritten. It’s a relief, then, that when not tied up in standard blockbuster conventions of complicated plotting and blow-em’-up finales, the film is a lot of fun, like, say, when the Enterprise crashes into an unknown planet. The witty repartee between the likes of Bones (Karl Urban), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) is central to this. It’s well-timed and an excellent example of a dysfunctional family of  explorers stuck in space, which they sure as anything are. Of the performers involved, Urban and Quito come out on top, while Chris Pine continues to make for a fine leading man as Captain James T. Kirk. The effects mixed with clumsy direction and heavy plot weigh it down at times, but when it’s wrapped up in the inner workings of the crew there’s plenty of satisfaction to be had.

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