As a life long Trekkie I have been quite vocal about the issues I have with JJ Abrams’ reboot of the Star Trek franchise. Without going into a lot of irrelevant details, I have always felt that this new Star Trek lacked a lot of the character driven stories and other factors that made the original work so well. That being said I am prepared to eat a little crow after watching this installment of the new Star Trek franchise. Star Trek Beyond does a fantastic job at bringing back the feel and spirit of Gene Roddenberry’s vision.
Star Trek Beyond Synopsis
Three years into their historic five-year mission, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is feeling restless as the monotony of deep space exploration beings to weigh on him. A distress call from a strange alien sends the Enterprise and her crew into an uncharted area of space where they are attacked by a new and savage enemy bent on the destruction of the Federation. Without the Enterprise and no chance of rescue, Kirk must find a way to free his crew and stop this dangerous enemy from reaching Federation space and unleashing a powerful weapon.
This original story co-written by Simon Pegg was not only a breath of fresh air for this fan, but it also captured the essence of what Star Trek should be. There are so many things that this movie got right, it was easier to dismiss the things that are still lacking. I had to make a special double effort to be totally objective when watching this film. To try to base this review on the merits of just this film and ignore the mistakes of the past. As a seasoned reviewer, I think I am able to judge Star Trek Beyond fairly and leaving my emotions at the door.
What Was Wrong
Before I mention about all the positives, let me get the negative out-of-the-way. What still seems to be missing from this franchise is Captain Kirk’s love for the Enterprise. Throughout all three films, this one and critical factor has been missing. It seems as if Kirk and the crew think of the Enterprise as just a ship and she is so much more than that. The original series and every subsequent series always included the strong relationship between captains and their ships. The Enterprise was just as much a part of Star Trek as every one of the characters. Again, this is missing from this film and as a fan, I hope the writers of the next movie (which has already been green-lighted) will try to capture.
What They Got Right
One of the major factors that was missing from the previous two film was the equal inclusion of the cast. The past two films virtually ignored Sulu, Chekov, Scotty and McCoy. They were either reduced to pressing buttons or as comic relief. The franchise seemed to only care about Kirk, Spock and Uhura. This was happily corrected in this film. Everyone seemed to get equal screen time and something meaningful to do besides responding to orders and filling the seats of their original counterparts.
The romantic relationship between Spock and Uhura was downplayed considerably this time and was refocused on some of the other characters. McCoy and Spock shared several great moments that were reminiscent of the original series scenes with Kelly and Nimoy. There was also an unfailing respect and confidence between the Enterprise crew and Captain Kirk. Even Uhura who never really liked Kirk much had an unwavering loyalty to him. The relationship between Kirk and Spock has seemed to solidify and the inclusion of McCoy into the mix seems to have brought back the crucial character interactions that were sadly missing from the previous two films.
Star Trek Beyond is not only fun and exciting to watch, it is the first film in the franchise worthy of carrying the Star Trek name. With no over-the-top special effects or lens flairs to distract the audience, the film relies on the story and characters to carry us into this spectacular world. But that is not to say the effects weren’t dazzling. The exterior and interior shots of Yorktown were amazing and were effective at helping tell the story without being too overdone and constantly in your face.
The two new characters introduced in this film were also well written and acted. Sofia Boutella did a superb job as Jaylah, not only making the character extremely likable and relate-able but making her crucial to the story without having to take her clothes off or make out with Captain Kirk. Idris Elba as big bad of the film Krall didn’t try to outdo past villains like Khan or General Chang. Krall was who he was and Elba did a great job in spite of the heavy makeup and prosthetics. Krall also enjoyed a nice and surprising plot twist to his character that wasn’t all too easy to predict.
Karl Urban‘s performance as Leonard McCoy deserves special recognition. Urban channels DeForest Kelly’s personality as McCoy perfectly as if he was born to play the character. Sadly Urban will probably never be given the accolades he is due for such a spot on performance. John Cho also stands out as Hikaru Sulu. Cho’s interpretation of the character is powerful and commanding. Sulu displays just the kind of presence you’d expect from a future starship captain. There were surreal moments in the film including fitting tributes to both Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin.
Star Trek Beyond is not only fun to watch for the newly anointed it also pays homage to the original and is respectful to long time fans. I left the theater feeling both entertained and satisfied. There is hope for the franchise now as a new generation takes the reigns. Simon Pegg should be commended for his respectful treatment of this film and one can only hope this is the first of many great feature films to come.