Not way-beyond, ‘Star Trek Beyond’ still is fun

Movie Review

Chris Pine

In all its incarnations, “Star Trek” obviously has spent a lot of time in space, but some of its better stories have been told when the crew is grounded.

That’s what happens in “Star Trek Beyond,” which AMC shows Thursday, Sept. 8, and Friday, Sept. 9. When it was released in 2016, the picture marked the franchise’s 50th anniversary as the third of the movie reboots, with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto back in their portrayals of Kirk and Spock. Without erasing memories of their forerunners, they’ve made the roles their own, and it’s saying something when they can do that without being accused of trying to usurp the originals.

This time, an enemy named Krall — played by a properly imposing and heavily made-up Idris Elba — launches an attack on the starship Enterprise, using lots (and we are talking “lots”) of tinier space vessels. That scene achieves its aim of being one of the picture’s most visually impressive sequences.

The result leaves the Enterprise crew members stranded on a not-too-friendly planet, giving them plenty of time to mull their history and their destiny. The actors pull off the further development of their characters very nicely, indeed … including Anton Yelchin, in what sadly turned out to be his final appearance as Chekhov. There’s also a clear tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy.

For all that introspection, though, a “Star Trek” update is bound to have its share of action, especially with “Fast and the Furious” series veteran Justin Lin as the director. A big help toward that is co-star Sofia Boutella as an alien cohort who’s definitely got some moves. If you’re stuck on a hostile planet, she is most surely someone you want on your side.

The other, newer regulars — Karl Urban as Bones, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, John Cho as Sulu (with a certain revelation that predecessor George Takei made known he didn’t necessarily like) — also are present and accounted for. And it’s worth noting that Simon Pegg, alias “Scotty” here, co-wrote the script; his obviously whimsical take doesn’t hurt matters, especially in those stretches (and there are sizable ones) when dialogue rules instead of physical mayhem.

More “Trek” movies still may be in the offing, and likely are, given the franchise’s endurance that has seen several more series launched in recent years. For the time being, while it may not be quite set to stun, “Star Trek Beyond” still is a good-enough reason to beam aboard yet again.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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