Star Trek Beyond (beyond what, I don’t know), the 13th Star Trek film and the third under the watchful eye of J.J. Abrams, isn’t so much a feature film as an extended episode of a TV show. The script, by co-star Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, is very thin, creating no new story arcs, except for presumably adding a new crew member. It is fairly entertaining, though, and if you aren’t weary of the now fifty-year-old banter between Spock and McCoy, occasionally funny.
The Enterprise is in a Starbase, I guess a kind of very large artificial planet (called the Yorktown–space is so Earth-centric) when there is a distress signal. A ship has gone down on a planet inside a nebula, and only the Enterprise has the navigational skills to get in.
Of course there’s baddies down there, led by Idris Elba (wearing what looks like fifty pounds of makeup) who is after some doodad that will give him unlimited power. This seems to be the go-to plot nowadays, as it is the MCU and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Anyhoo, the Enterprise gets destroyed by what looks like a murmuration of starlings (just how many times has that happened? Can it really be called the Enterprise anymore when it seems every part has been replaced?) and the crew gets scattered on the planet. Some are captured by Elba, while Spock and McCoy are stuck together for hilarity reasons. A new character, Jaylah (played by dancer Sofia Boutella), who seems to have a face made of marzipan, is introduced (at the end she gets invited to join Starfleet, so I’m sure we’ll see her on the bridge of a brand new Enterprise in the next film).
What bothered me about Beyond is that it takes no real chances and relies on very old ideas. It doesn’t even crib from literature, like First Contact did with Moby Dick. It just kinds of lies there. I appreciate that director Justin Lin gives each of the main characters some screen time, but it doesn’t amount to much. I hate to speak ill of the dead, but Anton Yelchin just screams like a little girl and Pegg and Jung seemed to have given him many words starting with “V” so he could pronounce them as “Ws.”
I’m also confused about something. Early in the film, Spock is told that “Ambassador Spock” (a photo of Leonard Nimoy is used) has died. Now, isn’t that Spock in the future? Since the future hasn’t happened yet, how could they pinpoint his death? There’s a couple ways to react to this news: be bummed that you now know the date of your death, or be happy that whatever you do you’re not going to die for a long time. One of the problems of using time travel.
As I watched the film and realized they’ve really run out of ideas for this series, I thought why not remake the classic old episodes, like “City on the Edge of Forever,” “Shore Leave,” or “Amok Time?” They have better FX now (and better actors) and could make them more developed. Just an idea. They’d be better than this film.