Sunday, July 31, 2016

Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Copyright: Paramount Pictures
This film has the drive, the familiarity and it has just enough unique charm to make it a great family adventure set in the Star Trek universe. Jason Lin, its director, must have a very in-depth knowledge of the popcorn genre and how the same can be rehashed to seem new and exciting.

But, Lin is not a snake oil salesman and there are no cheap gimmicks in the film. Simon Pegg and Doug Jung wrote the film as if they made a very long episode of the original TV show, making the plot simple and self-contained. Star Trek Beyond begins when a lonely shuttle reaches the Federation’s newest and biggest space station Yorktown. Its single crew member pleads with the authorities to come to the rescue of the stranded ship and the captain and the crew of the Enterprise takes up this challenge.

When they arrive at their destination, a very cruel fate awaits them. Just like that, Lin takes Enterprise and does horrible things with it, making the process of the ship breaking apart a very visceral feeling. The Enterprise goes down and the crew scatters across the unknown planet. In a TV show, this would be one of those episodes where the crewmembers are left stranded on some strange and dangerous world, but here, there are no cheap locations here. Instead, the full force of AAA production is there to support the film and all of its glorious action scenes.

The casualty of this approach is the loss of the contemplative nature of Star Trek, but to be honest, J.J. Abrams is the surgeon who removed that part when the reboot began. The same is true when it comes to the ever-important (at least to Trekkies) lore. Now, there are just a couple of throwback moments referencing the original cast and practically nothing more.

The film ends as a satisfying blockbuster experience which went nowhere in terms of any intellectual or emotional ideas. At the completion of the story, the actors might have very well taken out bottles of Coca-Cola and revealed that the entire film is one giant commercial. But, Lin did the film in such a splendid manner that the lack of any substance really does not make a huge difference to the overall fun experience it provides.

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