Movie Review: Star Trek: Beyond

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

Bottom Line: An enjoyable action movie that throws physics straight out the window.  Karl Urban is a better McCoy than DeForest Kelley ever was.

“Star Trek” has largely been a cerebral franchise.  It embraces science even if it has to make the science up in order to do so (see inertial dampers).  Sure, wars and fights occur, but the focus has been more towards the “meet new civilizations” aspect than the blow the crap out of everything aspect that most action movies boil down to.  With the reboot, “Star Trek” began its slow embrasure of the latter at the unfortunate expense of the former.  Now, with “Star Trek: Beyond” and Justin Lin in the director’s seat, we’re at the point of full on action movie.  The Star Trek geek in me weeps a little.  But, whatever, I know what I’m getting into, let’s review an action movie!

No, wait, the physics.  Can we talk about the physics for a minute?  I can ignore the holographic projections that are somehow smart enough to interact with the rough natural environment so perfectly that they can fool seasoned warriors (a new technology, by the way, that seems to be in the sole possession of one woman abandoned on a planet).  I can even ignore the action movie trope of a vehicle falling off the cliff and the person jumping and catching onto the cliff edge as it falls.  What I can’t ignore is the saucer section of the Enterprise crashing through mountains and remaining mostly intact.  What I can’t ignore is the same saucer section, now on the ground, also being used in a chase scene where the whole thing flips over and the villain gets crushed by it while the heroes somehow manage to clear the area and not even in one of those cool “the villain gets crushed by the very edge as the heroes slightly outrun them” ways.  What I can’t ignore is taking another, much older, ship and crashing it through even more mountains.

The movie also criminally under-utilizes the star villain.  I won’t say who it is because it’s kind of a reveal, but I’ll give you a hint: He’s black.  A movie where a black man is the villain?  Shock of all shocks! #blackrolesmatter

All that said, “Star Trek: Beyond” is a fun action movie.  It moves at a brisk pace so that the plot doesn’t really matter, which is good because it’s kind of weak and produces more questions than it answers.  And sure, there’s a bunch of technology created for the sole purpose of making a cool action scene, but those scenes actually work.  I sincerely hope that the movie franchise veers back to its more cerebral roots, but in the meantime I’m just going to enjoy the ride.

Oh, and Karl Urban! I want to see an entire movie of his Dr. McCoy riffing off of both Kirk and Spock.  I know it’s hard to say that someone does a character better than the original since Urban is basically out-DeForest Kelleying DeForest Kelley, but man does he nail the role.