Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Simon Pegg and Doug Jung
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim, and Shohreh Aghdashloo
Synopsis: The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
It’s only fitting that a new Star Trek film comes out on the 50th anniversary of the franchise, and that it’s actually great. Star Trek Beyond has a lot of things going for it, and some things going against it, not in the bad way though. One, a new director in Justin Lin. One of its stars, Simon Pegg, co-wrote the script, and it doesn’t follow any previous story told before. The other thing is the film has two stars that sadly passed away in Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, which the film is dedicated to the two. Getting past that, Star Trek Beyond is a great addition to the Star Trek franchise, and one that deserves to come out on the 50th anniversary.
Beyond follows the USS Enterprise on its third year of its five-year mission, and Captain James Kirk (Pine) is starting to feel the effects of being in space for so long, saying everything feels “episodic.” It also doesn’t help that his birthday is around the corner, and for him it’s bittersweet. It’s not that he’s another year older, but it’s also the day his father died protecting the members of his crew – which will also make him older than his father. He vents to “Bones” (Urban) that he might be living in his father’s shadow, but the issue is put aside when the crew arrives at a new starbase called Yorktown. There, the crew has a short time to relax as a ship comes with an alien saying her crew was attacked and is stranded in the far reaches of space. The Enterprise then go off when they are attacked by a swarm that takes over and destroys it, leaving the crew to scatter and crash land on an uncharted planet. With most of the crew captured and taken prisoner by the villain Krall (Elba), the rest of the crew has to find a way to not only rescue them, but also rest off the planet before Krall can unleash a very dangerous and powerful weapon.
One of the best things that Star Trek Beyond did, and one of the reasons I think it works, is that it splits the crew up. Making the film follow the crew for the majority of the film rather than making the film just about raising the stakes and stopping Krall’s plan. Yes, the crew eventually bands together to stop Krall, but that doesn’t happen until the final act of the film. It’s everything that builds before that which makes the final act better.
Uhura (Saldana) and Sulu are in Krall’s camp with the majority of the crew, Scotty (Pegg) gets found by the alien warrior Jaylah (Boutella) and helps her fix her “home,” Kirk gets help from Chekov (Yelchin), and Bones is with Spock (Quinto) going through the terrain of the planet. All of them have their own strengths and leads to some great dynamics with the highlight being Bones and Spock. The back-and-forth between Bones and Spock is easy enough to steal the film as a whole. Spock’s part in the trek, no pun intended, with Bones throughout the planet might make some hardcore Trek fans a bit conflicted, but it totally works in context.
However, despite the focus being put on different groups, the central conflict that is introduced at the beginning – Kirk’s feeling about being out in space so long – gets thrown to the side once the action picks up and the crew is on the planet. It helps that the action is great; especially the takeover of the Enterprise and a scene that takes place outside Yorktown, but Kirk’s central conflict gets lost in the shuffle and isn’t bought back up until the very end when he’s going up against Krall. If anything, this would be the biggest misstep that Star Trek Beyond has. Which does suck a bit since Kirk is seen here as a true captain, and not trying to prove himself to his crew or the rest of the Federation like the first film or Into Darkness. The inner conflict also rose an interesting question, that we do get answered by the end, but would have been nice to see play out throughout the while film.
The returning cast all do great, this is their third outing after all, and the two new cast members aren’t that bad either. Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah is a great addition to the film, playing a strong alien character that holds her own in her solo fight scenes. When it comes to the villain Krall, Idris Elba nails. Elba already has a pretty demanding presence onscreen, but covering him up with heavy alien makeup makes him a bit more scarier. Krall does have an interesting twist, which I know a TV spot spoils (thankfully I avoided that), but his villain character is very Trek, and does mirror a bit of what Kirk feels and what he goes through.
All in all, Star Trek Beyond is a fun, entertaining, and action-packed addition to the Star Trek franchise that is well worth the watch. The action is great, and while it does follow some of the summer blockbuster formula, the film never lacks nor eliminates its originality and fun. There are nods to the original series that are pretty organic and aren’t just thrown in for the sake of it. Thrusters on full!
Star Trek Beyond
4.5 out of 5