Well, they’ve done gone and shredded the Enterprise in “Star Trek Beyond.”
Smashed the old girl full of holes and crashed her in flaming flinders onto the surface of a far-distant planet. (Though, curiously, one with perfectly breathable Earthlike air and Earthlike gravity too. How do they do that?)
And they've scattered the crew, two-by-two: Spock (Zachary Quinto) with “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), Kirk (Chris Pine) with Mr. Chekov (the late Anton Yelchin), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) with Mr. Sulu (John Cho) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) with … a newcomer, a young female alien named Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). Keep an eye on that one. She’s a kick-butt (literally; great martial arts moves) scene stealer.
Their mission: to somehow find their way back to one another and kick (literally) plenty of alien butt along the way.
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Sounds familiar? It should. It is. It’s “Star Trek,” after all.
The pattern for these pictures has been set for decades, and this latest entry in the series breaks little, new ground. Oh, there is a very brief scene early on where Sulu is shown greeting and embracing his husband and young daughter. But that aspect of his personality is never explored.
“Star Trek” makes a stab at keeping up with the times, nodding at a present day cultural reality. Otherwise, it serves up more of the usual: Bones comically kvetching about Spock’s by-the-book logic-driven ways, Kirk impetuously running headlong into danger, driven by the need to measure up to his heroic starship pilot late father, Scotty desperately trying to keep the Enterprise and later another, older, creakier starship from coming apart at the seams.
Under the direction of Justin Lin, whose resume includes three “Fast and Furious” (taking the reins from J.J. Abrams who directed the previous two “Treks”) action scenes are so chaotically edited it’s often difficult to figure out who’s bashing and crashing into whom. And as the alien villain of the piece, Idris Elba is so weighted down with head-covering prosthetics that it’s often difficult to make out what he’s saying.
At times the picture feels like a nostalgia tour. The passing of Leonard Nimoy is the basis of a scene in which young Spock is shown mourning, in his stoic Vulcan way, the death of old Spock. (The recent death of death of Yelchin is acknowledged in a title card.) And toward the end, a photo of the original members of the Enterprise crew — Nimoy, Shatner, DeForest Kelley, et al., all in full uniform — is reverently displayed.
For a series supposedly about the future, “Star Trek” remains firmly rooted in the franchise’s long-lived and very prosperous past.
Star Trek Beyond
☆☆ 1/2 out of 5
Cast: Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, Zoë Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin and Idris Elba.
Director: Justin Lin.
Running time: 2:02.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.