Directed by Justin Lin
An alien arrives at a Starfleet space station begging for help. The Enterprise is dispatched to give assistance, but it turns out to be a trap set by a vengeful Starfleet officer. Now Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew along with plucky new sidekick Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) must stop this madman from the past before it is too late
This is the best of the three reboot films and that is not saying too much. Beyond feels a little bit more like a Star Trek film than the previous two had. There is a bit more focus on relationships and characters here than in its predecessors. Kirk in particular is facing a serious emotional point since he is now older than his father ever got to be. He is having his doubts about his career and his place in everything. Spock (Zachary Quinto) must make decisions about his relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) since the death of Spock Prime has given him a sense of obligation to return to his Vulcan brethren.
Kirk’s handling of the alien female Kalara (Lydia Wilson) who came begging for help was the most Kirk moment of the reboot films. It was not until the third reboot movie they did something right with the character. The original Kirk would have easily figured out her story was crap as did this one. Which begs the question: why did not Starfleet? Kirk made these deductions usually away from the brilliant minds at Starfleet since they were not around to do it. The brilliant minds at Starfleet never questioned how an escape pod made it from one solar system all the way to a space station around NOTHING!
And they finally go to a strange new world and encounter something alien. At least the action takes place away from Earth. I give them props for that. Everything was just so Earth focused in the last two movies. I felt it was laziness to avoid coming up with an alien environment or handling existing species. For a space-based film universe they were very tied to our particular world.
Beyond got the Star Trek humor right more often than they have in the previous two movies. For example, Spock unintentionally giving Uhura a piece of jewelry that could be used as a tracking device was a Star Trek level joke-though a bit more TNG than TOS. And it works. Unfortunately the rest of their romance is still juvenile. Vulcans are not emotionless but rather hold logic as an ideal and thus use it to guide their actions while keeping emotions in check. Spock in the past has had romances. None were middle-school level like this though.
Sadly the plot relies heavily on coincidence. While Krall (Idris Elba) did have access to Starfleet transmissions, how out of all the Starfleet transmissions did he find that Kirk had the exact piece of the device that he needed? If he was somehow aware of where the artifact had gone then why didn’t he get it himself? He was apparently picking off ships as they came near the planet during his time there so I would assume if he figured out where it was, he could just go get it. It looks like he was just waiting for it to be brought to him. How very Zen in waiting for the universe to provide.
The whole motivation behind Krall’s character comes down to him being a guy that just likes war. He is unhappy with peace. He could not handle captaining an exploratory vessel because he was not in combat and now stranded, he decides to start a war with the Federation a century later because that is what he likes best. It is very two dimensional and makes Krall a plot device for action scenes and not a character.
And why didn’t Krall leave? He had access in one way or another to faster than light vessels since he was picking them off as they passed by, yet he just hung out on the planet getting angrier and angrier as time went on. He was essentially a grown ass man pouting.
Krall and the gang had all that technology to get off the planet but that is probably not the most egregious issue with this movie when it comes to Krall and friends. The ship in which they crashed on the planet was still space worthy or could be made so based on Jaylah’s efforts. The remaining crew of the USS Enterprise was able to finish getting it up and running in a short amount of time in order to get off the planet and back into space and back to the Yorktown. Given that Krall had a century and learned how to use significantly more advanced technology than the Federation possessed at the time of his marooning, why couldn’t he fix his own ship and leave? He had a serious intellect and some quality technical know-how if he figured out that alien device. I’m going to bet with all those drones he got working he probably could’ve gotten the USS Franklin up in orbit and then released it so that they would not have to fly off of a cliff like the Enterprise crew did.
Some of the effects of the life-extension device, like Krall and company changing appearance, can be excused or even kind of make sense but why did they adopt new names and a new language? Where did that come from? If the alien technology that was inexplicably left behind by a never identified race also affected their memories, then how do they retain enough memory to spend a century plotting revenge?
The character of Jaylah was just a generic warrior woman. She looked cool but she was just a pastiche of alien warrior woman characteristics that have been used in Star Trek and many other science-fiction films and shows. I really think she should have not even been included in the movie as they presented her. All she did was get the characters to the Franklin faster. One core character with a tricorder could have made that happen.
I would like to mention the other members of the Enterprise crew but why bother? McCoy (Karl Urban), while the most character accurate of the film, was there to patch up a few people but contributed very little interesting. Scotty (Simon Pegg) is present to be impressed by Jaylah but contributes little to getting the Kelvin flight worthy which should have been his job and not that of a brand-new character. Chekov (Anton Yelchin) served as an audience while Kirk outsmarted Kalara. Sulu (John Cho) did…?
The planet they were on was some kind of mining facility that was abandoned and the drones that Krall used as troops were more than likely equipment used to mine whatever was being mined but how does that random piece of life sustaining technology fit into everything else? That just seems out of place with the mining aspect of the planet. It leaves a great many questions in my mind. Was it a weird medical device? If so, then how does that make sense? You would need to kill one person to help another. Was it dumped there? If so, then how very convenient since it gave Krall a way to survive for so long. Once again, the universe provided for Krall.
I once again complain about the empty space on ships in the current crop of Star Trek movies. I do not get it. But this time that lack of logic is exported to the design of the Yorktown station. Not only is there a great deal of unused space on this space station but the Federation here used engineering techniques that was advanced for even TNG. How did they get access to that type of knowledge so quickly? How did an alteration in the timeline lead to a massive leap in engineering technology?
Something I have noticed in all the Star Trek reboots is you never get a beauty shot of the Enterprise. Think about it. When was the last time in the reboots you saw a good clean shot of the Enterprise in all its glory? I cannot think of a science-fiction movie that does not have at least one shot of the main ship or the assorted cool ships but not the Star Trek reboots. It is all weird angles and extreme close-ups, or a distance shot of it getting shot up. In all the previous films you got at least one cool shot of the Enterprise framed against the stars or space dock or something but not here.
The film’s plot relies heavily on coincidence and a distinct lack of logic on the part of the villain. So many things had to accidently go right for that one piece of technology to fall into the hands of the Enterprise crew so that Krall could send that one alien to trick the Federation into sending the Enterprise to the planet in an uncharted nearby nebula. Krall remaining on the planet for decades despite finding what could easily and obviously be used as a way off is nonsensical to say the least. I just cannot stop complaining about that.
Star Trek Beyond is a great action movie and a barely okay Star Trek movie. It is nice spectacle, but it is not deep Star Trek. It is more like fanfiction than anything. You can watch it, but you will not miss much if you skip.