by Erik Poulsen, Movie Critic
Star Trek is back once again, this time coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of the original groundbreaking show. In an age where most Hollywood reboots are failing just as quickly as they are released, Star Trek Beyond is an example of how to not only to do a reboot, but a reboot’s sequel the right way. Somewhere in the cosmos Star Trek creator, the late Gene Roddenberry, is very proud.
The third film in the new Star Trek trilogy comes several short years after a very divisive Star Trek: Into Darkness. It’s taken the new cast and crew a few movies to find their groove, and find it they did! For the first time since the heyday of the original cast, we get to see the crew of the starship Enterprise in the middle of their five-year exploratory journey into space, doing what they originally set out to do – explore and develop new relationships with different alien species and societies.
We have come to know the new crew over the past two movies, however their characters have never really felt as fleshed out as they do now. They are no longer fresh faced rookies looking to tackle the universe. Now they’re three years into exploring deep space, and close quarter living thousands of miles from home is starting to weigh on them. After answering a distress call in an uncharted part of space where they cannot communicate with the rest of the Federation, Captain Kirk (Pine) and his crew find themselves ambushed, in spectacular fashion, by the evil alien Krall (Idris Elba) along with his army of projectile-like kamikaze space crafts.
After crash landing and abandoning the doomed Enterprise on an alien planet (seems like the Enterprise gets destroyed in every Star Trek movie), the surviving crew members are split up into unlikely combinations who must work together to not only stay alive, but reunite with the remaining survivors. This dynamic proves to be very entertaining, whether we’re watching Spock (Quinto) and Bones (Urban) bicker back and forth while leaning on each other for support, Uhura (Zaldona) as a captive of the villainous Krall, or Scotty (Pegg) who doubles as one of the film’s writers, interact with newcomer alien Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) whose knowledge of the alien terrain as well as the enemy’s base, helps our crew to survive and reunite with each other. Her presence in the film although integral to the storyline, means that some of the regular characters like Checkov (Yelchin) and Sulu (John Cho) aren’t given as much to do and kind of take a back seat. But, at least we now know that Sulu has a husband and family back home.
Does Star Trek Beyond have any flaws? A few. There are several scenes, which I won’t spoil, that are heavy on exposition and only serve to move the storyline forward. Krall, like most Star Trek villains, wants to destroy the Federation and has amassed a weapon that is capable of doing so. Although Krall’s motivation is roughly explained, it lacks any kind of emotion. The writing in Star Trek Beyond shows that they really understand these characters, and their relationships with each other. It’s one thing to assume there is a certain bond between them because that’s what we’ve been told is the dynamic, and another to see it fully realized on the screen, a feat that took the original cast two decades to achieve.
Star Trek Beyond is a visually stimulating sci-fi movie, and definitely one of the best Star Trek films of the past 20 years. For the first time since the series was rebooted back in 2009, does it feel like we’re watching the real Captain Kirk, Spock and Bones up on the big screen, and not just younger actors trying to emulate William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley. The sudden passing of Anton Yelchin (Checkov) just prior to the release of this film makes the viewing even more bittersweet.
All in all, Star Trek Beyond is a great summer movie, a lot of fun and a welcome addition to the Star Trek franchise. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for Kirk and the crew of the starship Enterprise as they continue to boldly go where no man has gone before.
I give Star Trek Beyond a solid B+.
Directed by: Justin Lin
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Zaldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin and Idris Elba