This review will be bittersweet. I can’t avoid the joy nor the sadness Star Trek Beyond gave to me, and everyone will understand why. So this review, much like the movie, is for Anton.
Now, I’m not a Trekkie nor have I seen any of the old screen versions of the Star Trek franchise, so I’m not an expert. All I know is that when the first Star Trek came out, I loved it, and so far I have seen that first movie more than 10 times. There is just so much joy to it, and I love all of the characters for many reasons. For me, the casting was also brilliant in a way, because it was diverse and everyone seemed to get along well. That feeling of family was sort of the reason I loved Star Trek in the first place, and I was so glad the newest movie threw me into a bucket filled with that very same warm feeling of being loved.
Star Trek Beyond is not a perfect movie, no, it has flaws and its biggest flaw is its villain. For years now, there have been a lack of great villains, and a lot of the times their backstory and motivation are messy and pointless. Though Krall (Idris Elba), our villain in Beyond, served a bigger purpose for the USS Enterprise crew, he himself was not the best part of the movie. But speaking of the USS Enterprise crew – oh, what a great addition to the franchise Beyond was in terms of showcasing those friendships and relationships between Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Scott (Simon Pegg).
For me, the joy was seeing unlikely pairs on that planet, where they are left stranded after their fleet is destroyed, fighting for their survival. A lot of that joy was due to Spock and Bones, who don’t get along that well, but most of it was from seeing Anton Yelchin as Chekov on screen with Kirk. Though that joy was overshadowed by the tragedy of Yelchin’s death, it was still great to see Yelchin on screen so much in Beyond. And nobody can deny that the pairing of Scott with Jaylah (Sofia Butella) was a breath of fresh air, especially since Jaylah seems very compelling and I appreciated the fact that she got so much backstory and emotion behind her character.
This brings me to another good part, the script! Written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, Star Trek Beyond adds a lot of emotion to its action packed space movie. There are great character developments, yes, I’m talking about the subtle reveal of Sulu’s relationship, and there is the awesome addition of a new character, Jaylah. Sure, the villain could have had a better story line, and the ending felt a little cliché, but the fun and joy was all there.
But was it as great as J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek in terms of directing? Well, not so much. Justin Lin is not a bad director, but there’s one thing about his directing that bothers me a little – the speed. Known for his Fast & Furious movies, Lin does exactly what those titles refer to, he directs action scenes fast and furiously. Watching Star Trek Beyond’s action scenes was like trying to focus on something while tripping on acid – the world just goes by too fast and you’re unable to make sense of it. And while that directing works on certain scenes, mostly for me, it feels sloppy and unclear. Yet, there are moments in Beyond where Lin slows down, and allows us to enjoy the action, which is when the movie feels almost perfect… even though it isn’t.
And even though I really wanted Star Trek Beyond to be perfect, for Yelchin, I didn’t really get my wish. But I did get a great friendship movie, a movie that shows us that different people can come together and achieve greatness. It showed me that even the smallest of characters can have the greatest impact, and that it doesn’t matter who we go home to, and most importantly, it taught me that even a Russian can be a whisky guy.