Star Trek Beyond directed by Justin Lin from a screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung.
Nine hundred and sixty six days into its five year mission, the USS Enterprise arrives at Starbase Yorktown, a massive snowglobe-like station with its own internal atmosphere and cityscape, to replenish dwindling supplies while the crew takes shore leave.
An escape pod drifts out of a nearby nebula and the Enterprise is dispatched on a rescue mission.
The rescue turns into an ambush when the Enterprise is overwhelmed by a massive swarm of ships. The swarm's commander, Krall, boards the ship searching for the Abronath, an alien artifact that Kirk had obtained on a recent mission.
The swarm rips apart the Enterprise, and the saucer section crashes to the planet as the crew abandons ship in escape pods.
The action is excellent, Hollywood at its best!, and the menace of the swarming enemy ambush as it rips apart The Enterprise is frightening and moving; we long-time Star Trek fans have also, like the crew, come to regard the ship as almost one of the characters and to see her ravished in cinematic detail is a set-up that promises an enemy as daunting as the Borg and a conflict resolution complex, difficult and satisfying!
Who are these aliens? Why are they doing this? What do they want? What motivates them? How will our band of intrepid heroes overcome this devastating weaponry and neutralize such a threat?
Sadly this great set-up fizzles like a bottle of champagne gone flat. Yes the action sequences live up to what one expects in a big-budget Hollywood production, I have no bone to pick there, but the resolution fails to reward the visceral investment the set-up inspired.
Antagonist Krall, played by Idris Elba, is no Khan (played by Ricardo Montalbán in Wrath of Khan and Benedict Cumberbatch in Into Darkness), and his motivation when we learn it is underwhelming, petty and very hard to be interested in.
And while wearing the prosthetic, Elba's delivery of dialogue is almost unintelligible. It doesn't get all that much better when the prosthetic is removed late in the film.
One of the writers claimed, "We really want to get back to the sense of exploration and wonder.
The kind of optimistic sense of the future that Star Trek has always kind of had at its core." Starbase Yorktown could have been an
excellent vehicle to explore this theme.
To spend a little film time experiencing it
as an embodiment of Roddenberry's "wonder... (and) optimistic sense of the future" would have
not only elevated the film to a worthy and
memorable entry in the franchise, but made one
care a whole lot more about the fate of its
Which might have gone a long way toward overcoming the villain's unimaginative motivation.
Instead it is just a prop for action stunts.