WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.
Growing up in the 90s, I never got into Star Trek in my younger days. Once Nickelodeon and the Sega Genesis took over my life, I felt no need to pick between Team Kirk and Team Picard. By 1992 the only leader I needed was Mark Summers. My best memory of Star Trek was growing up with no cable waiting for Cops reruns to come on while wishing I had cable. Point is, this franchise doesn’t hold a place in my heart but I know it does for many people. So when I heard them rant about how bad Star Trek into Darkness was, I really didn’t have any ground to argue with them on. While cries of whitewashing and sexism were all the rage in the last film, I thought Into Darkness was pretty decent considering I had no emotional connection to any of the characters but don’t let a Trekkie hear you say the portrayal of Khan was only ‘ok’. So for this review, I’m deciding to go in blind again, this time for the 3rd installment of the Franchise, Star Trek Beyond.
Our film begins with Captain James Kirk played by Chris Pine, who is looking for a promotion to Vice Admiral and wants Spock played by Zachary Quinto to take over as Captain. A sudden rescue mission, however, puts the Enterprise in charge of assisting a ship called, The Altamid in the Nebula. If you don’t know what any of this means, don’t worry because neither do I. Our heroes are ambushed by a sea of ships in space and are nearly ripped to shreds. The crew crash lands on the planet as they are barely able to escape the onslaught. The film’s antagonist is an alien named Krall played by Idris Elba. Krall wants to exact revenge on The Federation after he was left stranded on Altamid, due to him being a threat to peace among the races. The team finds an ally named Jaylah, who is a scavenger and former prisoner of Krall’s. Jaylah lives in the wreckage of the Franklin, which went missing over a hundred years ago. Krall steals an alien artifact and turns it into a bioweapon to use against the Federation. Kirk, however, forces Krall into a portal which sends him and the weapon into space and takes him out like a DragonballZ villain.
Now I have to applaud this movie for the great set pieces put together by director Justin Lin, who also directed the Fast and Furious movies. Lin does an amazing job bringing in the Octane and action of F&F into the Star Trek universe. It is impossible not to be on the edge of your seat for the first hour of this movie. The siege of the Enterprise is beautifully done and visually the special effects are some of the best I’ve seen in quite some time. Star Trek fans will be happy to know that this movie actually feels like a Star Trek movie. The changing of the guard from J.J. Abrams to Justin Lin does wonders to this franchise and should be a welcome change for Trekkies and casual fans alike. Great performances from returning actors like Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, and Karl Urban enhance a story that the actors could have easily phoned in. The cast does a great job playing off each other and their chemistry feels genuine for the first time in this series. You actually see them work together as a team to save the day, unlike the first two films. The depth the actors are given humanizes them with the viewers and gives them a side of their character that the audience connects with emotionally. Chris Pine finally resembles Captain Kirk that everyone loves and Spock is much more than a soulless douche.
However, where the high paced motion of the movie succeeds, the story itself isn’t very strong. The film does just enough to have a competent story but don’t be fooled, this is a typical revenge story with Star Trek characters squeezed in. Now I understand that Leonard Nimoy died during pre-production and they needed to honor him but his role was one of the things I didn’t like about the series. Star Trek Beyond makes various references to the original Captain Kirk series. The fanservice for old Trekkies is fine for the first film but when we are three movies in, the need to reference the old series really hurts the ability to establish the originality in this trilogy. The references are much more subtle than you’ve seen in the JJ directed films in all fairness but they are more noticeable for fans of the series. I was also disappointed in Idris Elba, not by his performance but I felt like they should have used him more and made him a bigger part of the plot. The majority of his story doesn’t come together until the final act where it just seems rushed by the time we hit our conclusion.
I have to say, Star Trek Beyond is the best film in the trilogy and should give new hope to Trekkies going forward. Justin Lin’s direction along with Simon Pegg’s writing is just the jolt of adrenaline this series needed. Star Trek’s ability to blend octane, set pieces, visuals, humor, and 90s music makes it a fun experience for movie goers. The summer box office season this year has been a pretty brutal, so it’s great to see a movie break the trend. If the story was a little more complex I would put it up there as one of the best films of the year. Star Trek Beyond is a fun kick ass time that almost makes me want to go back and watch the old series…yeah nevermind, I’ll just stick to the films.
OFFICIAL RATING: ****
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