There’s more action in “Star Trek Beyond” than the last two episodes combined.
Credit Justin Lin, the director who revved up several “Fast and Furious” sequels and gave Paul Walker a proper send-off. While dialogue is minimal, there’s still enough of a story to hang this on and a way to introduce more odd-looking aliens than makeup artists could devise.
Now in the third year of a five-year mission, the Enterprise crew is getting bad vibes from a guy named Krall (Idris Elba) who wants some gadget that Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) seems to possess.
The team is antsy, too, to meet friends and family at the Yorktown starbase. There, we get a few clues about the regulars, learn Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) are in a “complicated” relationship and discover there’s a possible promotion in the captain’s future.
Krall, however, has a way of jettisoning all of those plans just by attacking the Enterprise and scattering the team on a remote planet. Their goal – reunite and get back home. Like the “Fast and Furious-ers,” the “Star Trek” mates are paired off, giving us moments with Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Kirk, Spock and Bones (Karl Urban, who tries too hard to channel DeForest Kelley) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) and anyone who will work with him.
While trying to stay alive, Scotty meets a scavenger named Laylah (Sofia Boutella) who may or may not be on the wrong side of the law. Great with martial arts, she adds a new dimension to the proceedings, even though “Star Trek” has never been known for its MMA prowess.
Like Elba, Boutella is hidden under so much makeup it’s impossible to tell how much acting she’s doing. She kicks well and snarls but, given the demands, Carmen Electra could have played the role and achieved just as much.
Yelchin, who died after filming was completed, has several nice scenes and a touching tribute card at the end of the film. Pegg, who co-wrote the screenplay, knows just how much nostalgia to include for the faithful.
Still, when the crew happens upon an old ship – the USS Franklin – they’re given the kind of challenge that’s usually reserved for Han Solo and folks in “Star Trek.” Pegg could have done a little more research and given this is Khan moment it needs.
Nonetheless, Pine and Quinto continue to be great replacements for William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Lin is an indication that executive producer J.J. Abrams is willing to mix things up.
Giving the directorial reins to someone even edgier (no, Michael Bay, not you) could offer the franchise even more life.
“Star Trek Beyond” lasts about 30 minutes longer than it should. It has breaks, too, that look like they’re designed for commercials. But that could just be a matter of pacing. This edition doesn’t go beyond the two previous ones. Instead, it travels a familiar course and brings everyone safely back to square one – not unlike an episode of a long-running television series.