Star Trek: Beyond doesn’t go boldly farther than any of the previous installments and recycles favorites, but its enjoyable enough as a summer blockbuster offering with a few nods to the original TV series.

The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

The Star Trek franchise delivers the eventual third installment, once again promising audiences to go where no man has gone before.

Justin Lin takes over as director replacing J.J. Abrams, delivering a summer blockbuster as ordered.

Fortunately, there’s no overuse of lens flares and canted angles. Star Trek: Beyond has a utilitarian feel and a retro vibe in the absence of all that artistic embellishments. You get a sense that The Enterprise is a space-venturing ship on a mission like any sea vessel on an expedition, which makes this third installment more Trek-y than any of the two installments before it. While it does inject themes of sacrifice, peace and unity, there is no shortage of action scenes. There are a number of creative spins on old school action to enjoy – space dogfights, hologram decoys, and a scrappy rescue mission.

As what you would expect from the director of the Fast and Furious franchise, the plot explores the crew’s dynamic rather than just focusing on Kirk. The main cast is paired off with different characters and everyone is given enough screen time. The cast does well as expected, with new villain Idris Elba who managed to be distinguishable even underneath all the make-up.

As the movie progresses though, it becomes obvious that Star Trek halfheartedly commits to its promises and marches to the same old beat.

Starfleet has unwittingly created another megalomaniac in search of a weapon of mass destruction McGuffin. The U.S.S. Enterprise promptly crashes into another planet. There’s plenty of visuals here to keep you distracted, but the editing can be chaotic at times.

The movie explores the main casts’ dynamic in a middle section that grinds everything to a halt, but there’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before (except for Gay Sulu). The captain has an existential crisis but mostly he’s bored and yes, at some point he rides a motorcycle and approves of the Beastie Boys. Spock and Uhura’s relationship is on the rocks (again) so the Vulcan can continue his brotp with Bones (don’t worry K/S shippers, the movie makes it clear that he still belongs with Kirk). Scotty lands his zingers without missing a beat.

They go up against Krall with the help of Jaylah, but the one note villain doesn’t have much to do and given a paltry found footage reveal. This is a shame because Beasts of No Nation has shown us that Elba can be a menacing yet charismatic villain.

While Krall represents a theme tackled in the original series, big ideas give way to standard blockbuster fanfare. In fact, you can clearly see some Fast and Furious influences in here – Franklin might as well be some souped up once junkyard car blazing through the streets accompanied by a hip-hop soundtrack driven by a rough and tumble hero with unresolved daddy issues and a loyal crew.

In the end, Star Trek: Beyond doesn’t go beyond any farther than its previous installments. At this point though, the Star Trek franchise has pretty much told us that it doesn’t have any intentions of contemplating the mysteries of the universe and challenge our ideas of what we know about the vastness of space and our own specie.

It’s a polished enjoyable summer blockbuster for viewers who aren’t looking for anything else. However, it does beg the question on how the franchise can justify more sequels if they keep producing the same popcorn fodder, especially now when competition includes superhero movies that can build bigger worlds and explosions with as much budget as they can.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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