To answer the question bluntly: no, not really. Is that a bad thing? Not at all. In a time when everything is getting very, very political, Star Trek Beyond is a nice little 2-hour escape from all of that. Whilst perhaps not as gripping as the preceding two films, it’s still a fun, easy-to-follow story, with the added bonus of couple more great actors being introduced into the franchise (Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella) . There are points in which the story does drag on and feel a little bit aimless, but all is rectified by a really great battle scene choreographed to the music of the Beastie Boys. Would I recommend going to see this film? Sure, go for it.
The thing with Beyond is that it doesn’t actually feel that much like a sequel. Whilst there most definitely elements within it that signify it is a sequel – Kirk and Bones’ deep conversation over a bottle of scotch, Spock and Uhura’s relationship troubles – the film could work pretty well as just a standalone one. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when comparing it to Into Darkness, and the character development we saw in Kirk, Spock, and even Scotty, I was hoping for maybe a little more from Beyond, and felt just a little bit disappointed that there wasn’t more – especially when there were plenty of opportunities to. There could have perhaps been a bit more of a look into Bones’ past during the period he was stuck nursing an injured Spock, and even a delve a little further into Uhura’s backstory during her time being held captive by Krall. This could have helped that slightly boring middle section become a little more intriguing and seem a little less dragged out. Again, this isn’t something that completely ruins the film, and the story does eventually progress perfectly fine without this character development, but perhaps with it Beyond could have been even an even greater addition to the Star Trek franchise.
What was a great addition to the franchise was Sofia Boutella’s performance as Jaylah. She is exactly the independent, intelligent heroine that I love to see in action films, and what makes her even better is that she wasn’t written off as a love interest! Being the cynic that I am, I was wholly anticipating the moment when one of the male characters would begin flirting with her and crush all my hopes and dreams of another interesting female character being added to the franchise. When this didn’t happen, I was ecstatically happy – she has a complex backstory, and there’s a possibility of this being explored further in a future sequel! Huge thanks to Pegg and Jung for adding her into the Star Trek universe – here’s to hoping they do her justice in the future, too.
Now, I’m not going to lie here, I was disappointed when Idris Elba didn’t look much like Idris Elba when in character as Krall, but he did do a decent job regardless of that. That being said, though, there isn’t really much to say about Krall – he had a good backstory, quite similar to Khan’s, and he was a ruthless villain ready to kill many, many people to satisfy his own needs. Not a particularly ground-breaking character, but not a shit one either, so there’s nothing to complain about, really.
The best part of the film, without a doubt, was the battle scene. Great music, great special effects, great… violence. Just really great stuff overall.
So, how does Star Trek Beyond measure up, then? As mentioned before, it isn’t as mind-blowing as the previous two films have been, probably due to the lesser amount of actual star trekking (haha) in this one. Perhaps this does make the story feel a little more limited in the sense that they spend a lot more time off of the Enterprise and more time (accidentally) exploring one singular planet, which then perhaps takes away some of the fun of the Star Trek franchise, but this does end up working perfectly okay in the grand scheme of things. After the initial ‘crash-landed on a mysterious planet’ lark is over and done with, we have a great series of battle and one-on-one fight scenes which really bring the movie together. So, whilst this isn’t the strongest film in the series, it’s still definitely a good one. Leonard and Anton would be proud.