ReelBob: ‘Star Trek Beyond’

By Bob Bloom

“Star Trek Beyond” is a rip-roarin’, fast-paced and action-packed space opera that has the feel and sensibility of the best episodes of the old television series.

That is not a knock on director Justin Lin nor on screenwriters Simon Pegg and Doug Jung. It is simply an acknowledgment that they, along with producers J.J. Abrams and Roberto Orci, are ready to move the franchise in a new direction.

The first two “Star Trek” films, while solid, kept one foot in the past as perhaps a security blanket to appeal to fans of the various “Star Trek” franchises — on television and on the big screen.

With “Star Trek Beyond,” it seems this latest reboot is ready to begin its own explorations and go where no “Star Trek” production has gone before.

And it is certain that the death of Leonard Nimoy last year and that tragic car

Anton Yelchin and Chris Pine.

Anton Yelchin and Chris Pine.

accident that killed Anton Yelchin a few weeks before the film’s release have impacted the filmmakers.

No one will replace Yelchin as Chekov, just as Zachery Quinto’s Spock also will be able to continue reshaping his character in his own talented way.

The film opens with the Starship Enterprise three years into its five-year mission. Capt. James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is feeling restless and bored, and contemplating a change in assignments.

For reasons of his own, so is Spock.

Stopping to resupply the ship, at the Yorktown space station — which looks like a hybrid of the space station in “Elysium” bred with the alien city from “Guardians of the Galaxy” — Kirk and Spock put their futures on hold, when a plea for help sends them on a rescue mission to an unknown planet on the other side of a nebula.

Once there, the Enterprise comes under attack with devastating results, and Kirk’s crew is scattered — and most captured — by a group of aliens who have occupied the rocky and desolate world.

“Beyond” is basically an adventure movie that leaves little time for character development, as it races from one set piece sequence to another.

In a sense, that is OK, because we know these characters so well, which is what, I believe, Pegg and Jung took into account when writing the script.

“Beyond” is a film that fans of the series will embrace, while other moviegoers will simply enjoy all the fireworks and special effects.

One caveat is the underutilization of the considerable talents of Idris Elba as the main villain. Hidden under layers of prosthetics, Elba’s Krall is a one-dimensional bad guy, whose exterior masks a tormented individual who feels hatred for the United Federation of Planets.

And, yet, when his motives are revealed, they are somewhat dubious and a bit of a let down.

On the flip side, Sofia Boutella as Jaylah, an alien also stranded on Krall’s planet, brings some kick-ass moves, a winning personality and humor to the film.

I hope that Abrams and the other executives now in charge of the series add her to the cast roster. She would make a welcome addition to the Enterprise crew.

Overall, “Star Trek Beyond” is an exciting and fun movie; a sturdy feature that is the first step in hopefully a refreshing direction for the vaunted franchise.

The touching dedications during the end credits to Nimoy and Yelchin also seem to be saying goodbye to the franchise’s past and preparing us for an imaginative future.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.

STAR TREK BEYOND
3 stars out of 4
(PG-13), action violence, language

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