By: Brett Slaughenhaupt – Movie Columnist
Fifty years since the start of the journey, twelve feature films prior, and a new-new reboot to the classic franchise. One would expect the filmmakers of Star Trek Beyond to be completely out of ideas. Especially considering the rehash of the 2013 feature Star Trek Into Darkness, regardless of how not-bad that movie was, this newest entry is make or break.
With its cast still game for another round and a new director (Justin Lin, of Fast and Furious fame) at the helm, everything feels lighter to the touch and more carefree. Right from the get-go it takes off, wasting no time of its quick 122 minutes – which feels like mere seconds compared to the years of some other blockbusters this summer. The USS Enterprise crew answers a distress call in uncharted territory and encounter their fiercest, and most politically relevant, foe yet. Krall, played to extremes by Idris Elba, is terrifying and always manages to stay one step ahead of the crew.
What makes this film, and its predecessors in this new franchise, shine is the camaraderie that seems natural between all of the cast members. When two characters get lost together and need to find their way out of sticky situations, the characters still have a distinguished repartee, even if we haven’t seen them work together in the films before. This allows characters to feel like humans, rather than stock images with meaningless one-liners. That isn’t to say that there aren’t some hiccups in the writing – either people don’t want to write for poor Zoe Saldana, or they don’t know how – but overall it is very tightly woven.
Other elements of the film are also to be commended, as expected. The cinematography does well at creating motifs in its movement, starting scenes in unexpected angles and slowly turning, to foreshadow the dizzying climax. Makeup and effects are also beautifully rendered to make aliens and spaceships look damaged and real. Seeing the Enterprise fall out of the sky for the thousandth time may not have been as effective as the first, but it still has such a fantastically exciting appeal to the moment.
The film never forgets where it came from, recognizing its history with poignant moments throughout. You can feel the respect that the players have for the past, and the excitement for what they can create for the future. Space may be the final frontier, but this rebooted series is finding its feet and just getting started.