First, the good news. Star Trek Beyond, despite the equally dumb title, is actually a bit better than the previous film in the Star Trek reboot series, Star Trek Into Darkness. For starters, it actually does feel like a proper Trek action film, whereas Into Darkness was a faceless, over-serious J.J. Abrams action film that, despite featuring several apparent callbacks to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan*, was only related to Trek because it happened to have the words “Star Trek” in the title.
So props to director Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow, a few Fast & Furious films) and writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung for getting that right. And the prospect of watching our lead characters—USS Enterprise heads Kirk and Spock—make witty banter in between blasting enemies away sounds great, so I’m glad they tried to follow through on that front too.
Unfortunately, the witty banter is surprisingly infrequent, and most of the blasting (and/or other general PG-13 carnage) gets repetitive—or, to put it more frankly, pretty dull—quickly. I say “most” because there are a couple moments that were slightly fun. Those would be…let’s see….the spaceship fight set to the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” (yeah, yeah, I know that same song was already used in 2009’s Star Trek, but it’s so utterly enjoyable here that I don’t even care) and that motorcycle scene. That’s probably about it.
I think I know the biggest reason Beyond’s mayhem ultimately tired me, though. Besides the dialogue not being as consistently clever as it should have been, the story (a blandly evil guy named Krall wants to kill everything and steal some magic stone, so Kirk, Spock, and others have to protect it from him while trying not to get killed themselves. What else is new?) was very routine and predictable, so none of the action even had me invested from a narrative perspective.
Again, Beyond is far from terrible, and if I’m making it sound otherwise, then I’m sorry. It’s light, it’s harmless, it’s enjoyable, and I’d much rather put it on again than trudge through Into Darkness another time. So I guess that counts as a win for it.
*I say “apparently” because I’ve never actually seen The Wrath of Khan. Maybe that will change in the future. Maybe.