Justin Lin's Star Trek: Beyond picks up in the middle of the USS Enterprise's five-year mission into uncharted territory, finding Captain Kirk and his crew arriving at Starbase Yorketwon, a remote outpost on the fringes of Federation space. When an unexplained frequency from deep space is discovered, the USS Enterprise volunteers to explore the peculiar signal, unknowingly venturing into a trap that leaves the Enterprise completely destroyed, with much of its crew stranded on an unknown planet. With no means of communication, limited supplies, and no apparent means of rescue, Kirk and the other survivors of the USS Enterprise are forced to ban together, using their wits in order to defeat this new, unknown enemy who seems to have a lot of hatred for the Federation. Justin Lin's Star Trek: Beyond is a tightly-paced, action-packed thrill ride that should appease most fans of large-scale science fiction adventures, though it may leave some of Star Treks more devout fans grasping for straws, due to the film's breakneck pacing and overall lack of intelligence. There is an intellectual bankruptcy to Star Trek: Beyond, in that Justin Lin shows very little interest in any real form of characterization, outside of a few strong narration moments from Kirk, with the film feeling like a sequence of strung together action set pieces first, relying on the past film's character development to supply the emotion and drama of this story. The characterizations that do work, work due to their reliance on the actors and the relationships built through the prior films in the series and the overall brand, with basically every new character in the film, specifically the main baddie, feeling very paper thin and simply there to serve the narrative thrust of the story. What we get in turn is 120 minutes of blockbuster entertainment, with Justin Lin providing the viewer with loud and bombastic action that also feels more grounded than typical, mainly due to much of the film being spent outside the USS Enterprise. The film looks great in its big moments but it's in Star Trek: Beyond's smaller moments where film holds its footing, stripping these characters of their technologically-fueled specializations and forcing them to survive on a more primal scale, one in which communication and trust are the most paramount. Do I wish we could have had the best of both worlds? Absolutely, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I enjoyed Justin Lin's Star Trek Beyond, due to its simple, straightforward approach that is unquestionably dumb in aspects, but also very economically made, cramming a fun, explosive blockbuster filmmaking into 120 minute frame, which sadly in this day and age of blockbuster style filmmaking feels like quite the accomplishment.
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