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Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) and Scotty (Simon Pegg)

4stars

Unity and the Unknown

presented by J:

I’ve never considered myself a Trekkie per se, but Saturday evenings in our household meant two things: nachos and watching Jean-Luc Picard be a total boss. To this day, anytime I see a rerun of The Next Generation, I have an overwhelming Pavlovian desire for nachos. Not that it takes much to convince me to eat nachos.

Justin Lin (Fast & Furious) takes the helm from J.J. Abrams in this latest Trek, but keeps to the formula without feeling tired. While the film doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the Star Trek universe, it doesn’t drop the ball on what has thus far been a successful franchise reboot. But particularly welcome in this iteration is the addition of the always-excellent Idris Elba as Krall, a scaly villain best described as Lucifer in Space, and a breakthrough role for actress Sofia Boutella as the edgy orphan Jaylah.The rest of the cast, led by Chris Pine, continues to have great chemistry, though Zachary Quinto’s Spock is the best among the regulars. The presence of the late Anton Yelchin (R.I.P.) will be missed as Chekov, and it will be interesting to see how the films adapt, especially as it was announced this week that the character will not be recast.

Joel Harlow’s makeup team is particularly commendable here and deserves some awards consideration at the end of the year (he already co-won the Oscar for the 2009 reboot). I also applaud Mr. Lin and cinematographer Stephen F. Windon for chilling out on the use of lens flare, Mr. Abrams’ signature indulgence.

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Krall’s malicious motivations are a bit lacking in intent and clarity, but Mr. Elba’s performance helps make up for this slight. And what the movie lacks in surprises, it makes up for in action. Early on in the film, Kirk declares that “nothing is ever unknown, just temporarily hidden,”hinting that the studio at least believes there is still plenty of room to explore the final frontier. And the end leaves no doubt that more adventures are just around the corner.

Star Trek Beyond warps into theaters amidst tumultuous times of disunity. The two political parties of the US have never been further divided, the UK is grappling with Brexit, and senseless attacks of hate show us how lacking our modern world is in unity, and how much we fear what we don’t know. Krall declares that only struggle can make civilization stronger and denounces unity as a weakness. But the overt moral of Beyond is that the best way to endure struggle is when we work together, and that diversity is integral for unity. And while this seems like an easy and forthright lesson, it’s one the human race is still fighting to learn.

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