Star Trek Beyond | Movie Review

STAR TREK is one of my greatest pleasures in life, I have seen it all multiple times, read a hell of a lot of the books and still watch the TV show on a regular basis. I am as Trekkie as you can get without attending the conventions in cosplay. About a year after I started Salty Popcorn back in 2009 JJ Abrams and Paramount re-booted the franchise and not only did I have a career highlight of attending the premiere at the Sydney Opera House, the next day I interviewed all the cast that made it down under. Sitting in a room with Pine and Quinto discussing savoury dip on sweet biscuits is still one of my finest memories as a film critic. Sitting on the roof of the Hyatt and talking Trek passionately with JJ Abrams was also pretty bloody hard to beat.

The 2009 reboot was a masterpiece, I also thoroughly loved STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS and was terribly saddened hearing Abrams was leaving the Captain’s chair. The first trailer for STAR TREK BEYOND was horrible, although it was still Trek so I was excited, you see Trek is like sex, even bad sex is still sex haha. The second trailer was much better although everyone lost their mind with why a motocross bike was in the movie. Well I can add another highlight to my career, I watched STAR TREK BEYOND at the Australian premiere, two rows behind Pine, Quinto, Cho, Urban and Lin and shock horror #fanboy – Pine and Quinto said hello on their way out.

Strap in folks, STAR TREK AND FURIOUS, I mean, STAR TREK BEYOND is releasing this Thursday 21st in Australia from Paramount Pictures, it is rated M and runs for 127mins.

On a special note: I was devastated to hear of the loss of Anton Yelchin – ALPHA DOG and ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE were masterpieces, and the distributor has sent me a copy of GREEN ROOM to watch. His talent as Chekov was portrayed with respect to the original character and all his performances were nuanced and professional. He is a talent we at Salty will truly miss and our thoughts and love go to the cast, crew and family who knew him. RIP Anton.


Star Trek Beyond Zachary Quinto as Spock image




The crew of the USS Enterprise are exploring the outer reaches of space, the film starts with the crew being in space for a long time and after a hilarious opening scene moves to a voiceover from Captain Kirk. He explains how the crew has changed after time in space and it really set a tone that had me excited. The Enterprise visits a Star Base that makes Deep Space Nine look like a garbage truck and it is here a distressed ship arrives asking for help for their stranded crew. The Enterprise is off again. At only about fifteen minutes into the movie the Enterprise arrives at their coordinates and then, no mucking around, it happens in every movie, we see The Enterprise annihilated and the surviving crew abandon ship to be taken hostage.

A few non-red shirts escape without being taken, low and behold, it’s Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty. They faff around on a planet for a while, Scotty makes a new friend, they find a Star Fleet ship abandoned for years and years that they somehow get working (that was convenient), they all band together and rescue their captured crew. Cool special effects, good guys win – roll credits.

OK – it’s close to that but more to it – aiming for less spoilers if I can.


Star Trek Beyond Kirk and Crowl image



STAR TREK BEYOND was always going to be a tricky affair. JJ Abrams left the director’s seat of the franchise to, you know, make STAR WARS. Paramount Pictures were left with the choice of finding a new maestro to helm the Enterprise, and somehow they decided Justin Lin. The FAST AND THE FURIOUS director was their final choice. Lin makes good, fast action, he is like a Maccas director, make it passable, make it fast. And he does the same with Trek, he plays to his strengths in the movie, his high octane action sequences, and these work really well. The first act moves so fast that if you blink you will miss it, the third act opens the NOS and the middle act is a boring piece of tedious shite.


STAR TREK BEYOND is by far the weakest link in the rebooted films. I started clock watching at about 30mins and was left in despair thinking this movie was going to be a disaster. Until the final 30mins, that is, when it gets ridiculous but fun and again really fast topped with a splash of perfectly timed Beastie Boys.

Simon Pegg wrote the screenplay for STAR TREK BEYOND with Doug Jung and I am really quite disappointed with Pegg. Kirk’s opening voiceover was a strong set up to what should have been an intelligent, somewhat philosophical, Trek movie that embraced the vision of Roddenberry. However it turned into a movie that required no thinking whatsoever and did some cool shit. After the opening monologue this would have been a great set up to see something like the VOID episodes of VOYAGER, something that spoke to the sparseness of space, that dealt with the trials of being left truly alone and then introduced those truly dark characters that decimate your soul.


The movie has a good tone of being an original series double episode, however unlike the first two in the reboots it never homages the original timeline, it is the first that boldly goes in the new direction without anything from the originals. It really could have done with at least some of that fight music from the original series, the one Jim Carrey so perfectly mimics in CABLE GUY.

I also felt STAR TREK BEYOND one split up the crew and destroyed their teamwork and dynamic that the first two films built so strong. Or maybe it was that I just didn’t like them all being apart from each other.


I did love that they made Sulu gay – ok this should not be a spoiler. People have been losing their minds over it or defending the shit out of it since it came out last week how disappointed George Takei was that they did this. I thought it was a subtle and beautiful touch and Takei is a bit loopy, they did it in his freaking honour!!!


Star Trek Beyond Chekov and Kirk image



Pine – check – I love him always. Quinto – check – nailed it again. Yelchin – fantastic but sadly we will never see him again in this character, RIP you beautiful soul. Cho, great but where was the sword fighting?! Urban as usual, awesome. Saldana nails it and I loved she had a really good fight scene with Pine and Krall, she got skills. Pegg and his little sidekick were funny as always.

Oddly Idris Elba as Krall was really run of the mill and came across like generic bad guy, absolutely nothing about him shone for me. This was real disappointing. After Nero and Khan, Krall is terribly bland, could we possibly have an opposing faction who isn’t angry and filled with hate all the time?

Jaylah is being hailed as a headlining new crew member, she has some cool moves, but it was like the introduction of Seven of Nine in VOYAGER. A fantastic new character that came about from not only looking good but having multiple episodes and hours of screen time to develop her and give her a story arc. Sadly Jaylah doesn’t have this luxury so her arc moves quickly. I did like that Kirk felt a responsibility to do right by her.

They inserted a small scene to honour the passing of Leonard Nimoy that was handled nicely and emotionally effected Quinto’s Spock.

The film is “Dedicated to Leonard Nimoy” but “For Anton.”


Star Trek Beyond Uhura and Sulu image



Technically the film is brilliant. The special effects in a science fiction movie are much easier to achieve but in no means easy, TOTAL RESPECT for effects and art teams on movies. Being able to make the entire movie pretty much in front of a green screen makes for easier space stuff but pushes the cast. The stunts are all handled well and Pine, in usual form, is pushed to his physical extremes.

The CGI and effects on the new base station were remarkable and I loved it’s somewhat four dimensional design, a beautiful but vulnerable outpost.

That motocross bike, it still bugs me. Not sure if technical is the place but I didn’t create a chapter called logical. The Enterprise ship that is Jaylah’s home of sorts has been abandoned for years and years and years. Besides the fact that Scotty can get it working in no time, get it flying from under piles of rubble, the motocross bike that is sitting on board should not in any logical means be capable of letting loose for some serious riding. I completely get that it’s ludicrous questioning plausibility in a science fiction STAR TREK movie but their is suspension of belief and then there is ridiculous. STAR TREK BEYOND, like FAST AND THE FURIOUS movies, likes to hover on or over the edge of ridiculous.


Speaking of ridiculous, the grand finale in their reclaimed ship was plain silly but for me that is AOK because reintroducing SABOTAGE from Beastie Boys nearly had me shedding a tear of joy. There may have been a fist pump at this stage!


Star Trek Beyond Jaylah and Scotty image



Roddenberry will be having a fit in his grave. STAR TREK BEYOND is my least favourite of the latest three in the franchise but like I said before, even bad sex is sex. I love the actors and am somewhat perplexed that all the leads only had a three film contract. Has this Lin directed episode ended any future Trek movies with Pine, Quinto and the rest of the cast? I bloody hope not because I love them and the world needs an Enterprise movie every few years, but please, can we have a movie where the ship is not destroyed.


3 Pops




 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.