How does the third movie in the reboot of the 50 year old franchise hold up? (Spoiler Free Review)
Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Simon Pegg and Doug Jung
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim, Lydia Wilson
Three years into their five-year tour, Captain James T. Kirk (Pine) is a little lost. He feels as if he is drifting in a sea of open space. With his birthday/anniversary of his father’s death approaching, the Captain is wondering what kind of man he is. Kirk has spent his time in Star Fleet living up to his father’s name, but this year he will be one year older than his father got to be. Spock (Quinto) is also having a bit of a crisis, but not of identity. He feels an obligation to his endangered race, but it means abandoning what it is he wants, the family he has built within Star Fleet, and Uhura (Saldana).
Nothing like a good emergency to put things into perspective. After receiving a distress signal from another ship, the crew of the USS Enterprise navigates their way thru a new system to find the stranded crew. But they are attacked, the Enterprise is ripped to shreds, and the crew is scattered on a remote planet ruled by Krall (Elba) who is looking for an artifact which happens to be on the Enterprise. With the help of another being stranded on the planet, Jaylah (Boutella), the crew must find a way to stop Krall’s plans and find a way off the planet.
When Lin was first announced as director, many fans of Star Trek felt the director of several Fast & Furious films was going to be all flash and no heart. But I argue the Fast & Furious franchise is all about family you build and the lengths they will go for one another (plus a lot of fast cars). Lin felt like the perfect choice to take the reins from J.J. Abrams. He knows how to balance the chaotic action with heartfelt scenes between the crew.
I enjoyed the first two Star Trek reboots, but they weren’t Star Trek to me. More like Star Wars with the crew of the Enterprise. No travels thru space to new frontiers, just the fight against terrorism (which is not the mission of Star Fleet). Pegg and Jung’s script bring the story of exploration and the classic plot of getting stuck on a remote and unexplored planet back to the series. The two even found a way to poignantly and respectfully include the passing of Leonard Nimoy into the plot.
The film itself is fast paced and entertaining. The few moments feel like they are lagging are quickly undercut by fighting or a joke. The action is a bit chaotic, especially in the third act. I found it difficult to follow which ship is what in the mass of ships. The effects were spectacular. Krall’s men are described as bees and the horde of ships in his fleet look just like that, a swarm of bees which makes them terrifying and amazing to look at. The destruction of the Enterprise was well done, the bits shown in the trailer don’t do it justice. This time there was an emotional impact to seeing this ship torn apart, unlike the previous two times it was destroyed in battle.
The cast, which already had great chemistry from the beginning, really shine in their roles. It is obvious the actors are comfortable with these characters. The unexpected and wonderfully antagonizing partnership of Bones (Urban) and Spock steal the movie, but Scotty (Pegg) and Jaylah’s relationship give the two a run for their money. As usual, Kirk and Spock are the only ones with any character development, which is a bit of a shame considering the large cast of talented performers (making Sulu (Cho) gay does not count as character development). Kirk’s crisis of identity is dealt with in a punchy-shouty way, but Spock’s felt like a slap with the feels (in a good way).
If there is one big complaint I have, it is the same complaint to be had with most of these films. The villain and why he is doing what he is doing. Unless his name is Loki, the big bad is always half-baked or convoluted. If you press me for an explanation for Krall’s motives, basically I would say he is a bad mamma jamma that doesn’t think peace is how to deal with the universe. There is a bit more to it that is explained in the third act, but it doesn’t really help you understand the why.
Overall, this film brings back the trek to Star Trek and has me excited for the coming fourth film.
5 out of 5 Stars