By Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly
Justin Lin, born in Taiwan and raised in Southern California, has come a long way from modest beginnings. Working frequently with actor John Cho, he’s directed such hits as “Better Luck Tomorrow,” and several installments of “The Fast And The Furious” franchise, he’s made a big name for himself.
“Star Trek Beyond,” the new installment of the “Star Trek” metanarrative, finds Lin’s knack for action sequences unabated. Sadly, the rest of the story, co-written by Doug Jung and Simon Pegg, who appears as chief engineer Scott, fails to ignite between the huge set pieces. The action gets the momentum flowing onscreen. But everything falls flaccid in between.
Pegg has quite a knack for comedy, as he’s proved in “Shaun Of The Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” But Jung and Pegg don’t seem to have any flair for, or even any interest in, the classic “Trek” characters on display. Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the starship “Enterprise,” flamboyant, charismatic, intergalactic ladies’ man, irresponsible at times, not a good friend of “by the book,” but committed to his mission and his crew. Spock, played by Zachary Quinto, second in command, half-human and half-Vulcan, torn between his lineages, but committed to logic, reason, and to Kirk. The exasperated Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, played by Karl Urban, the ship’s doctor, fire to Spock’s ice, concealing his admiration for the Vulcan beneath layers of ire. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, chief engineer, heavy Scottish accent, master of the warp drive. Zoe Saldana as Nyota Uhura, communications officer, fiery and dangerous when cornered. John Cho as helmsman Sulu. The late Anton Yelchin as navigator Pavel Chekov.
Well the pieces are all there, but the creative team can’t seem to paint a convincing picture over them this time. I won’t reveal too much of the plot, but I’ll note than from the first crisis point, it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going to happen and when. Ruins and wrecks collapse in on themselves, forming new ruins and new devastation.
Music from our era finds its way into the narrative, which is a decent example of Pegg’s comedy. But nothing grabs on and holds on, apart from the obligatory action.
The new movie is dedicated to original “Star Trek” cast member Leonard Nimoy, who created the role of Spock, and to Anton Yelchin, who both died recently. Hopefully the film franchise can continue to honor their legacy, and the legacy of the entire “Star Trek” world, with some more captivating installments in future.
Andrew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.