Star Trek: Beyond ***

With J.J. Abrams out of the director’s chair the film lacks familiarity, but there’s enough good stuff here to make it worth seeing.

Is it worth $10? Yes

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Gene Roddenberry-created “Star Trek” television series, so it’s eerily apropos that, much like this storied franchise itself through the decades, “Star Trek: Beyond” has some clear ups and downs. It’s easily the weakest of the three new “reboot” movies, and lacks the urgency and familiarity that made the first two so memorable. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its moments, and when it does, it really delivers.

At the start of “Beyond,” the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is bored beyond belief. It’s year three of its five-year mission to seek out new life and new civilizations, and all is peaceful in the galaxy. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) yearns for some action. Be careful what you wish for, James T.

Kirk and crew are sent to rescue stranded survivors in uncharted territory where all communications are dead. As the Enterprise approaches the new world it’s viciously attacked by an alien named Krall (Idris Elba) and destroyed, leaving its crew scattered on the planet. Kirk is with Chekov (Anton Yelchin, R.I.P); Bones (Karl Urban) is stuck with Spock (Zachary Quinto); Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) are held captive; and Scotty (Simon Pegg) and the native Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) work on a special project. 

“Star Trek” (2009) and “Star Trek: Into Darkness” (2013) were far superior films in part because they felt familiar. Just as director J.J. Abrams did with the original franchise trilogy in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Abrams used storylines and themes from the first two “Star Trek” movies in his two “Trek” films, and as a result they were dynamic and fresh.

“Star Trek: Beyond” director Justin Lin, in contrast, is not so nostalgic, though it’s worth noting that given his track record (four “Fast & Furious” movies) “Beyond” could very well end up one of the top-grossing films of the year regardless of its flaws. But would a little homage have hurt? Granted “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock’s” plot doesn’t lend itself well to a retelling, but you can’t help but think Lin could and should have taken more from “Spock.” Heck, at least make the villains Klingons!

That said, on its own “Star Trek: Beyond” is good, though not essential, fun. The action is muddled and murky at times, and 3D makes that worse – see it on regular screens for sure. There are some laughs, but not many. And if nothing else, “Beyond” features the best use of The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” you will ever hear.

Did you know?
Paramount has already announced “Star Trek 4,” in which Chris Hemsworth will return as Kirk’s father (he briefly played George Kirk in the heartbreaking opening of “Star Trek” (2009)).