THE CONTINUING MISSION
Note: The following review is SPOILER FREE!
After the disappointing showing of Star Trek Into Darkness, it can be safely said that the third reboot film had a lot to make for. And with the departure of director J.J. Abrams (who ironically jumped ship for Star Wars), there was some big shoes to fill on set. Thankfully, Star Trek Beyond is more than up to the task, going back to basics and delivering a fun, philosophical tale in the classic Trek tradition.
The story picks up with the Enterprise in deep space as they complete a research mission, only to be ambushed by a Krall: a vengeful marauder with a grudge against the federation. The Enterprise crashes on a remote planet, and the crew must reunite and stop Krall from attacking a nearby Federation base. While the plot may be boiled down to a simple “bad guy wants macguffin” tale, writers and vocal Trek fans Simon Pegg and Doug Jung wisely make it more about the journey than the destination, a quality that made the 2009 reboot such a joy to watch. After the crash the crew is separated into a few interesting pairings, including Sulu and Uhura as prisoners, Dr. McCoy and an injured Spock, and Scotty with a warrior woman named Jaylah, who’d been stranded on the planet years earlier. The script provides several opportunities for great banter and character work between the various characters, keeping the film fast-paced and allowing ample opportunity for some fun moments and nods to the original series.
The cast continues to the reboot series’ best asset, with Zachary Quinto providing a rational and level-headed Spock and Chris Pine continuing to a brash and likable Kirk. It’s Karl Urban’s McCoy who rises to the top here, however, with Bones’s sarcasm reaching new heights and Urban clearly having way too much fun being paired with Quinto’s intensely literal Spock. Idris Elba also turns in a great performance as Krall, giving the character tons of intensity without forgetting the emotional core and motivation for why he hates the Federation. Both Leonard Nimoy’s Spock and the late Anton Yelchin’s Chekov get fine send offs as well, with Yelchin’s Chekov getting some of the film’s finest moments (including a reprise of Walter Koenig’s Vodka speech) and Spock facing the legacy of his older self.
Director Justin Lin also deserves commendation, as he quickly wipes away the worst aspects of the Abrams-led Trek, including, yes, the overuse of lens flares. Lin, who made his name on the Fast & Furious franchise, adds a nice dose of adrenaline to the proceedings, keeping the action focused and snappy, while also utilizing some interesting camera movements and ideas for the film’s stellar space confrontations. While he does get a little overambitious with the way certain scenes are shot, he’s a welcome addition to the franchise and easily puts to rest any doubts about his readiness for heading from an action franchise to legendary sci-fi property.
Star Trek Beyond is a welcome return to form for the franchise, with the overly complicated plots of Into Darkness being scuttled for a fun, self-contained adventure. Of the three reboot films, Star Trek Beyond is arguably the one that comes close to capturing the feel of the original series, telling a character-driven story with a nice dose of sci-fi action. While the film isn’t perfect, the snappy action, engaging characters and just the right amount of reverence to the original series make Star Trek Beyond not just a fine Trek film, but one of the better blockbusters to release this year.
What’s your biggest ‘Star Trek’ memory? Will this film make up for ‘Into Darkness’? Tweet me @MaxMielecki. Also, be sure to follow us @YouNerded.
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