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segunda-feira, 18 de julho de 2016

Star Trek Beyond fails to boldly go where no other film has gone before: review


Director: Justin Lin; Starring:  Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Idris Elba, Jon Chu
12A cert, 122 mins.
Zachary Quinto, Sofia Boutella and Karl Urban in Star Trek Beyond
“Things have started to feel a little episodic,” muses Capt Kirk (Chris Pine) in the opening stretch of Star Trek Beyond. After the forced melodrama of the last instalment, 2013’s Into Darkness – which Trekkies voted their least favourite ever – it's understandable that this one felt the need to retrench, seeking safety in self-containment. It's both comforting and a little underwhelming to be refamiliarised with what a standalone episode of The Next Generation – albeit with a 100-fold effects upgrade – used to feel like.
Beyond is really Back to Basics. The Enterprise crew are rapidly whisked away on a rescue mission, supposedly to attend to shipwrecked survivors on a stony planet the other side of an unstable nebula. Before even getting there, their ship is ripped apart by a bee-swarm of hostile craft, working under the command of Krall (Idris Elba), a soul-sucking reptilian tyrant – part Hellraiser, part stegosaur – who needs the other half of a space-artefact WMD to pursue his yet-to-be-explained vendetta against the Federation.


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Elba’s stomping physique brings a fair payload of menace to this role, if not a whole lot of nuance, and it's only in the film’s last act – easily the strongest – that his villainy justifies the billing. In general, the new involvement of Simon Pegg in a screenwriting capacity can't be counted a resounding triumph. The attempts at banter between Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (a pally Karl Urban) regularly fall flat as a pancake. Not many of the principal cast – including the late Anton Yelchin, whose Russian accent as navigator bod Chekov mournfully twangs away at you – get chances to expand much on the personalities they’ve set down previously.

Karl Urban as Bones, with Zachary Quinto as Spock
Karl Urban as Bones, with Zachary Quinto as Spock
The effects? There's far too much swarming around with those bee attackers, the sort of onslaught which fills the screen and looks expensive, while whizzing around indistinctly and dampening any real impact. Better is the head-spinning vertigo induced by a gyrospherical space base – outdoing that nifty one in Elysium, even – and fun is certainly had with things like zero-gravity punch-ups, in a ticking-clock finale which amusingly recalls The Crystal Maze. 
This is the first spin of the rebooted franchise that intergalactic overlord JJ Abrams – busy with even more stellar assignments – hasn't taken upon himself. Justin Lin, rescuer of the Fast and Furious series, picks up the reins, and does as steady if impersonal a job as a state-of-the-art robo-autopilot.



Fans will be divided on whether the manic pace of Lin's set pieces quite hits the spot – the first off-world blitzkrieg, especially, is shot and edited in a skittering frenzy which goes overboard with the spatial disorientation. (You may be begging for 2D over 3.) While nothing in the film’s story coalesces into a workable theme – or nothing beyond unity good, individualism bad, which is matchbook scribbling at best – Lin does preserve the baseline amiability which Abrams risked jettisoning last time. Sulu (Jon Chu) is outed as gay, which everyone but George Takei - the gay actor who played the role in the original Star Trek series - seems fine with, but also lifts the movie up and out of its underlit mid-section rut with a single plunging pilot-dive: you feel a prickle of the old awe coming back. In fairness to Beyond, it makes very few promises it can't keep, but also goes halfway out on every limb it can find, risking next to nothing, sights permalocked on par.

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