Before 2009, Star Trek, a once mainstream cultural phenomenon, was starting to lose its brand quality and sink into oblivion after a disappointing film in 2002, and the ending of an eighteen-year television run in 2005. However, since 2009, J.J. Abrams has restored the series to its former glory with the release of two blockbuster Star Trek films that may have received some harsh criticism by the Star Trek fandom, but introduced millions of others, including myself, to the series. Now three years removed from Abrams final Star Trek installment, its time to embark where no man has gone before and experience Star Trek from the point of view of Fast and the Furious director Justin Lin in this weeks Celluloid Cinema review of Star Trek Beyond.
One of the largest problems facing the first two films in the series was finding the delicate balance between making its own place in the Star Trek universe while still maintaining the qualities of the original series. Since audiences have had the chance to become familiar with this cast and the stylistic differences of the new series over the past six years, Beyond was poised to really become a staple in the new series and cement this series place in the larger Star Trek universe. While the film is not necessarily bad by any means, overall it does not come across as extremely memorable or that big of a part of the series. While the first two installments in the series had layers upon layers of character development and showcased intricate relationships between the crew members, much like the original series, Beyond seems void of any real depth or substance among its characters. Sure there are some enjoyable scenes between Spock and McCoy that make for entertaining banter, but overall there is nothing else substantial in character development in the film. In fact, the only character development that does occur in the film is not explored properly and does not come across as interesting or at the very least natural. In the beginning of the film, the audience learns that both Kirk and Spock want to leave the ship for their own personal reasons, but by the end of the film they come to terms with these issues and decide against it. While this conflict has the opportunity to make for insightful exploration of Kirk and Spock as characters, over the course of the film it serves as a very minor plot point that is only prevalent in a few scenes and does not undergo any tangible transformation as it seems to just resolve itself once the day is saved. While in nine out of ten films this would make for a very dab and bland film, this seemed like the planned route for Beyond epically when held in regard to Lin’s previous work.
While a Star Trek film devoid of character development seems like a sure train wreck, Lin is able to take much of the high intensity action in recent Fast and the Furious films and translate it really well into space to treat the audience to downright fun to watch space battles. For a film with a two hour run time, it seems to be over in nearly half the time as the film’s plot is very concise and serves solely as a mean to get from one piece of action to the next. In most cases, this endless barrage of action can quickly become exhausting for the viewers as normally it is not really clear as to what is going on screen, like in Michael Bay’s Transformers, but by using long sweeping shots that move through the interior of the Enterprise and swarm of enemy ships the audience is given the feeling that they are physically in the middle of the battle instead of getting brief glimpses of it. This level of immersion is really what makes the film. Yet, even with this level of entertainment it is still only a typical summer blockbuster that is straight to the point in its story but with a Star Trek skin.
In most cases, films like Star Trek Beyond tend to fail miserably as an action-loaded film is difficult to keep engaging throughout. However, the character interactions no matter how brief are luckily just enough to keep one engaged until the real blockbuster actions sequences that Lin is known for are able to make an appearance. All in all, as a Star Trek film, Beyond is unsatisfying and instead comes across as a simple TV movie with an enormous budget. With that being said, fans of the series will still be overjoyed to see the Enterprise crew back on the big screen in its former glory. All in all, Star Trek Beyond does not really offer fans much of the things the series is so beloved for, and instead mimics your average summer blockbuster, therefore receiving 2 out of 5 Reels from Celluloid
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