July 29, 2016 Star Trek Beyond (Movie Review)
From Director Justin Lin (Fast Five 2011, Fast & Furious 6 2013) and Producer J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness 2013, Star Wars: The Force Awakens 2015) comes the third part in the rebooted Star Trek series, Star Trek Beyond. Begun back in 2009 with Star Trek, and continued in 2013 with Star Trek Into Darkness, it arrives right in time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Gene Roddenberry’s hit television show. Inspiring thirteen feature films, as well as several other shows following different characters from the original series, the films take place in the same universe that Roddenberry created. These included 1987’s The Next Generation, 1993’s Deep Space Nine, 1995’s Voyager, 2001’s Enterprise (2001), and the upcoming series in 2017, Star Trek: Discovery.
In regards to Star Trek Beyond, opening in theaters July 22nd, returning from the first two films in the new series as the revamped crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are Chris Pine (Star Trek 2009, Star Trek Into Darkness 2013) as James T. Kirk; captain of the Enterprise, Zachary Quinto (Star Trek 2009, Star Trek Into Darkness 2013) as the half-human Vulcan; Mr. Spock, Zoe Saldana (Avatar 2009, Guardians of the Galaxy 2014) as the alien linguist; Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, Karl Urban (Dredd 2012, Star Trek Into Darkness 2013) as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead 2004, The World’s End 2013) as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, John Cho (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle 2004, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay 2008) as Hikaru Sulu, and the late Anton Yelchin (Fright Night 2011, Star Trek Into Darkness 2013) as Pavel Chekov. In addition to the star-studded team, new cast members include Sofia Boutella (Monsters: Dark Continent 2014, Kingsman: The Secret Service 2015) as Jaylah, and Idris Elba (Pacific Rim 2013, Beasts of No Nation 2015) as the despotic villain; Krall.
It all begins with the crew of the Enterprise on the third year of their five-year mission to seek out new worlds, new lifeforms, and new civilizations. The Enterprise makes its arrival at the Yorktown Starbase to refuel. The Federation receives a distress call from a nearby nebula, and dispatches the crew 0f the Enterprise to mount a rescue mission. The ship is soon attacked by a swarm of alien ships led by the nefarious alien creature, Krall, who is after an ancient artifact which Kirk came into possession of during a recent mission. If obtained by Krall, the device will spell certain doom for The Federation. The alien swarm destroys the Enterprise, and the saucer-shaped part crashes on an uncharted planet. Most of the crew, including Uhura and Sulu, are captured by Krall’s forces. Kirk and Chekov must find a way to regroup with the crew members who escaped and find a way to defeat Krall before he can go through with his plan.
A superb Sci-Fi/Action summer blockbuster, Star Trek Beyond is the perfect way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the TV show’s premiere. The tone and structure of the film is reminiscent of the original series, albeit much more action-packed. It essentially plays out as an elongated episode, and that is not a bad thing at all. Many franchises hit a dead end by the time they reach the third film.
Star Trek Beyond proves that this franchise is an exception. It is as good as J.J. Abrams’s first Star Trek film, and better than Into Darkness. Even fans of classic Star Trek who did not care for the first two films are likely to be impressed by this one. The characters are fun, witty, and respectfully written, and there is plenty of humor present to help an otherwise hopeless situation within the story from becoming too bleak. Even the most tongue-in-cheek moments, the best of which pays the ultimate tribute to The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” do not feel forced. Instead, they add another layer of fun to the film.
The only noticeable flaw in the film is the somewhat lackluster and cliche villain, Krall. Idris Elba is an outstanding and accomplished actor, and he does the best he can with what he was given, but an otherwise terrific film deserved a terrific villain to go along with it. Instead, he is in the film just so that the Enterprise can have an adversary. Nothing interesting is done with his character. His motivation for wanting to destroy The Federation is not revealed until much later on in the film, and even then, it’s too little, too late. The attempt at making Krall a type of mystery character falls flat. Ironically enough, Star Trek Into Darkness, the weakest film in the series, had the strongest villain with Benedict Cumberbatch’s updated version of the iconic enemy of the Enterprise, Khan Noonien Singh. These films had their strong points, and many of them, but by and large, the villains were not one of them.
All in all, Star Trek Beyond is a must-see thrill-ride which will please long-time fans and casual audiences alike. Simon Pegg’s script is a welcome change of pace for the series. Upon viewing the film, one could easily tell how much he loves the franchise. Beyond tells a refreshing and original story which, unlike its predecessor Into Darkness, bears no similarities to any previous Star Trek films. One can only hope that Pegg will return as the screenwriter for the fourth film. Star Trek still does not show any signs of being past its time. Even at 50 years old, it still boldly takes us to places where no one has gone before. CrypticRock gives Star Trek Beyond 4.5 out of 5 stars.