Star Trek Beyond is in theaters today and fans of the iconic franchise are sure to make the Justin Lin-directed film No. 1 at the box office.
Is Star Trek Beyond better than the previous two versions? Not at all. Is Star Trek Beyond a solid action film with the franchise's signature wit and social relevance? Absolutely. Is Star Trek Beyond terribly predictable? Without a doubt. Will anyone care? Nope!
This time around, the Enterprise crew is fighting a villain known as Krall (played by Idris Elba) who wants destroy all things in his path. With a standard action film plot that bounces in and out of coherency, the movie is repeatedly saved by the legendary characters. Honestly, Star Trek is all about the characters we know and love and, thankfully, Lin and the script writers respected the perspective of the fans.
Spock is snarky as ever. Captain Kirk is the cocky man who always gets it right. Uhura is still gorgeous as ever and never gets enough screen time. The best character in Star Trek Beyond is Jaylah, who seems plucked out of Star Wars, an action-diva powerhouse with good back story. While the women in the film are seriously minimized (Zoe Saldana as Uhura is disappointingly reduced), Jaylah nearly saves the entire film — and her love of Public Enemy is a plus. Then there's Idris Elba, who is an acting god in any role. He's disguised in heavy makeup, which might disappoint some fans, but I enjoyed seeing the range of the English actor whose swag is distinct even when he is unrecognizable.
The character of Sulu, made famous by George Takei, is now gay. Takei, who is openly gay, said this to The Hollywood Reporter: "I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.” Takei even told John Cho, who plays Sulu, "I told [Cho], ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted."
I am definitely a champion for diversity, but after seeing the film, Takei has a point. Sulu being openly gay appeared to be tokenism and gimmicky. It's literally two pandering shots attempting to tell the audience, "Look! There's a gay guy! We have diversity!" His sexual orientation was completely irrelevant to the story line and, unfortunately, didn't feel sincere. On the other hand, it’s a great debate when LGBT activists like Takei can say, "Thanks for the gay character, but now we need a fully dimensional gay character." Hopefully the fourth time around the creators of Star Trek will get it right.
Star Trek crashes here and there. Justin Lin's style is loud and big, which is at times distracting, but there isn't much to dislike. Moreover, the film is escapist action fun. In these times, a little relief from the tragedies of today is healthy. Star Trek is a good cinematic remedy.
Star Trek Beyond is in theaters today.
(Photo: Kimberley French/ Paramount Pictures)