CINEMA: The Great Beyond



DAVID EDELSTEIN: The new “Star Trek” picture, “Star Trek Beyond,” is a wild ride. It’s fast and furious, which makes sense, since director Justin Lin made the last few “Fast And Furious” movies. And he thinks in terms of whoosh and jangle. He bombards you with angles. You have to concentrate or the action will streak right by. It’s like abstract expressionism.

Now, if you’re a lover of the original series, you might think, I like “Star Trek” because it wasn’t fast and furious. It was philosophical. Well, I’ve got news. That “Star Trek” is gone. Since the series was, quote, “rebooted,” the movies have made billions but haven’t dispelled the memory of the original cast. There was something creepy about watching these young performers, as if the future will bring not just starships, but android replacements. Maybe it’s better to have a well-made, unapologetic action adventure like this than a spooky replication.

The script, by actor Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, does provide a human drama of sorts. Early in “Star Trek Beyond,” Captain Kirk, played by Chris Pine, is having a midlife crisis. He wants to leave the untethered world of starships and settle down. This seems strange, given that Pine looks as if he’d still get carded buying beer. Zachary Quinto’s Spock is also itching to leave the Starship Enterprise to rebuild the civilization of Vulcan. Can they really be on their way out in only the third movie? It’s a set up.

Most of “Star Trek Beyond” takes place on the blue planet Altamid, where the Enterprise is destroyed with sadistic thoroughness, taken apart by scores of little ships that swarm like bees. The characters are thrown to the winds, leaving them in groups of two. Kirk and Chekov, played by the late Anton Yelchin, dodged the death rays of a small woman with a wide brainpan and slide down what’s left of the Enterprise’s saucer section. It looks like the best water park ride imaginable.

A badly-wounded Spock and Dr. McCoy sling insults before realizing they have no reason for resenting each other, especially since Quinto’s petulant Spock is a world away from Leonard Nimoy’s Vulcan Buddha. Simon Pegg has written himself a lot of funny, high-strung shtick. And the movie’s best scenes feature his Scotty and a pugnacious alien named Jaylah, a star turn for Sofia Boutella whose sharp features register even under a pound of white makeup slashed with black lightning bolts. MORE