Star Trek Beyond

Here we go again. Amazing special effects? Check. Lots of computer generated imaging? Check. Lots of shooting? Check. Endless fisticuffs? Check. Likeable characters? Check. Otherworldly creatures? Check. Plenty of humor? Check. Funny dialog? Check. Hair-breadth escapes? Check.

One thing is unexpected: Co-writer Simon Pegg opens as himself and thanks us for coming out into a theater to see this film. And a big "Thank You" appears on the screen. Nice...

So what new experiences can director Justin Lin ("Fast & Furious") bring to this event? The answer is: Not much. Nor do we want much. This is comfortable, familiar territory where we come for mindless entertainment. The main theme seems to be, "United we stand, divided we fall." Scotty's granny told him, "Ye canna break a stick in a bundle!"

Our actors and their characters:
  • Chris Pine ("Into the Woods") Captain James T. Kirk is on his third year of this five-year mission. His part in the funny opening scene sets the tone, but look a little closer. Yawn... I suspect ennui has set in. He looks a bit bored, but older somehow.
  • Zachary Quinto ("Margin Call") Spock has reasons why he may quit the USS Enterprise, but he isn't ready to talk about it yet. At one point he says, "I have been contemplating the nature of mortality," so you see, he hasn't changed.
  • Karl Urban ("RED") Doctor McCoy is just as thorny as ever, e.g., "Well, that's just typical!" but toasts Kirk's birthday two days early: "Here's to perfect eyesight and a full head of hair!" His reaction after one battle over an icon, "You mean they attacked us for some doodad?"
  • Simon Pegg ("Mission Impossible") Scotty now has a dilithium chamber for those crystals. As he trudges over the rocks and through the gullies of a strange new planet, he complains, "Are we there yet?"
  • Anton Yelchin ("Green Room") It was wrenching to know we are seeing the late actor in one of his final roles. He died in a bizarre accident at his home on June 19, 2016. His Chekov is one of the most lovable and polite characters in this franchise. "Put that phaser down! ...please."
  • ZoĆ« Saldana ("Guardians of the Galaxy") Uhura is perplexed by Spock's behavior but knows better than to quiz him.
  • John Cho ("Grandma") Sulu is ready for whatever responsibility Kirk hands him.
  • Sofia Boutella ("Kingsman: The Secret Service") Jaylah has been living in an old abandoned starship; she calls it her "house." As the crew tries to reactivate it, they liken it to a "horse and buggy."
  • Idris Elba ("The Jungle Book") Krall seems ageless and he is a sworn enemy of the Federation. No one is quite sure why. Elba's features are lost during most of this story, covered by extensive makeup. We finally see him during the final quarter of the story.
As we watch the USS Enterprise torn asunder, not by some gigantic enemy but by thousands of little ones, we can't help but shudder. When our intrepid heroes are cast onto a strange planet, they are inadvertently paired off: Scotty and Jaylah; Sulu and Uhura; McCoy and Spock; Kirk and Chekov; we get to see each character play to his or her own strengths.

This is rated PG-13, so expect mild profanity ("Dammit Jim!"), lots of violence (among aliens), vehicular mayhem (on a motorcycle!), lots and lots and lots of blowie uppie stuff, and no sexual tension whatsoever. But a happy ending: I'm sure another chapter is being written as we speak.
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Here is a sample:
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