Star Trek Beyond movie full length review - Just another day in the Fleet
I'm in no way a "Trekkie" (though I've recently gotten into watching repeats of Star Trek: Voyager on the TV), I found the 2009 Star Trek reboot to be rather overrated (though
I liked it slightly more upon rewatch) and, unlike most, I really enjoyed Into Darkness/found it to be the superior film of the two. No doubt I'll probably hold the "unpopular" opinion once again with this film, as I found Star Trek Beyond to be sadly lacking the 'oomph' of the previous film. J. J. Abrams may have his detractors, but at least I could follow the action in his movies. Justin Lin seems to favour chaotic camera movement and things being too dark to see. Yet despite the frenetic nature of his directing, it's probably not a good sign that I found myself yawning during the start of the movie. Nor did things get off to a promising start with Kirk confronting ridiculous CGI aliens that were obviously played for laughs, but failed in supplying any. I thought STID had a much more energetic and enthralling opening. Even in its 'slower' moments, I found that movie was much more engaging than this one which only really starts moving when the Enterprise is attacked (and even THEN, not quite enough to hold my interest). The "damn snow globe in space" is visually interesting, at least.
Positives of the film? Half the cast make the movie watchable. In the plus column: Chris Pine playing the least jerky version of his Kirk so far and Zachary Quinto's Spock. Sadly, their friendship isn't focused upon as much as the last film, though what scenes they do share are decent. Meanwhile, Karl Urban's Bones gets more focus, and I think most will agree that's an asset to this film. He shares scenes with both Kirk and Spock, and their dynamics provide a lot of what's enjoyable in the movie. Tied with Bones for "MVP" of the film is Sofia Boutella's character, Jaylah. She certainly stood out to me the most in the film's first trailers, and despite being newly introduced, she pretty much steals the whole movie. Not only is she physically striking (Boutella rocks the black-and-white body paint/markings like nobody's business), but she's also a fierce lethal warrior woman who provides some of the film's best action as well as comedic moments. Before rolling your eyes at this description, just trust that she kicks arse, but actually looks *believable* doing so (unlike certain other crew members).
Jaylah's first paired with Simon Pegg's Scotty, who she calls "Montgomery Scotty", then later teams up with "James T" (as she calls Kirk) and the rest of the crew. While some of the film's humour falls flat, her names for some crew members and not quite getting certain references are an example of the few genuinely amusing running gags throughout the movie that actually *work* (along with her liking "the beats and shouting" of the Beastie Boys' music). This is the first movie I've seen Boutella in, but already she's made a lasting impression on me. I enjoyed her fun banter with Scotty and her dynamics with the rest of the crew. She not only gives us what these movies have sadly been lacking thus far (a believable action heroine), but is also important to the story. She's crafty with traps/snares and holographic projections of herself, her character is given depth and a backstory that ensures you're invested in her survival. I'm pleased there are hints that she may well return (hopefully the promise of joining the "family" won't turn out as hollow as it was for poor Alice Eve's absent Carol Marcus, who doesn't even get a mention).
The crew gets split up when the Enterprise, which just can't seem to catch a break, is destroyed (as it seems destined to be in every movie) and crash-lands on a planet thanks to Idris Elba's villain, Krall. While I'm sure many will disagree, I actually found Benedict Cumberbatch's villain in STID more captivating. While Krall certainly has an interesting look/voice (although, like with Simon Pegg's Scotty, his voice almost requires subtitles at times, as it's hard to make out what he's saying occasionally) and a somewhat surprising backstory, I can't say I was that invested. Nor was I overly fond of any of the alien characters (save for Jaylah), especially the double-crossing Kalara who kick-started this whole mess, thereby teaching Kirk a lesson in not listening to/believing every sad story one hears (at least he catches on eventually). Uhura hasn't much to do, though thankfully her boring relationship with Spock doesn't take up too much screen time, while Sulu and Chekov have their individual moments. Leonard Nimoy's Ambassador Spock plays an important part in the character journey of Quinto's Spock, and both he and Anton Yelchin receive dedications mid-credits.
Silly things people were criticizing about the trailers, such as the use of Kirk on a motorbike and yet more Beastie Boys, are actually used surprisingly well in the movie (though some mightn't think so). I was one of the seemingly few who didn't take an instant dislike to the movie's trailers and was willing to wait and see how the film as a whole turned out before judging. Naturally, there will be those who will go into this movie ready to hate it and come out feeling the same way (as well as those who just won't bother to see it, despite criticizing it), then there'll be those not expecting much, who might wind up surprised and find they enjoyed it. Fans might appreciate some of the nods given here to past Trek. I myself had no preconceived notions going in, and whilst there were aspects/moments of the movie I quite enjoyed, on the whole I was somewhat bored...but hey, I think Into Darkness is the best of the three new Trek movies thus far...so what do I know, right? Hopefully, the next one will be better/I'll enjoy it more.