Thanks to director Justin Lin, “Star Trek Beyond” is the most fierce in the 50-year history of the franchise. Lin combines the kind of full-speed-ahead action that he brought to the “Fast & Furious” franchise with a story that harkens back to the days when Gene Roddenberry was creating the show.
“Star Trek Beyond” picks up with the crew of the Enterprise a little more than halfway through their five-year mission. A sort of malaise has set in as the search for strange new worlds has become a bit mundane.
Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine) has become so bored he’s applied for a new job at a massive space station the Federation has constructed. Before he can get word on his promotion, an alien arrives seeking help for her shipmates who are stranded at the edge of the known galaxy.
The Enterprise crew rush to the aid of the ship only to discover it’s a trap set by an interplanetary warlord known as Krall (Idris Elba). He destroys the Enterprise (in spectacular fashion) and enslaves the crew.
Only a handful of the command team – Kirk, Spock (Zachary Quinto), McCoy (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) – escape. They put together a plan to free the crew.
Along with Lin’s spot on direction, a lot of the praise needs to go to co-writers Pegg and Doug Jung. Their decision to spend less time on the deck of the Enterprise and push the action on to a strange new world opens up a host of new story possibilities. The writers are such huge fans of the franchise that the movie is laced with Easter eggs, many only the most die-hard fans will spot.
They lose a few points with the plot, since their tale of the madness of isolation never quite comes together to create any depth. It’s best just to accept Elba’s character is as ruthless as Kahn and as aggressive as a Gorn.
The writers stumble a bit, but they return to the essence of the original series. Roddenberry used the sci-fi scripts of “Star Trek” to examine social issues through alien lifeforms. That’s what happens in this film. It just has a slightly muddled edge.
While the story has a few negative blips, the overall film works because the action has been cranked up and key characters given more exposure.
Lin showed in the “Fast & Furious” movies his ability to stage high-speed action. That translates perfectly to this film, especially in the battle sequence that brings down the Enterprise. Many Enterprises have been destroyed over the years but none with such brutal beauty as in this film.
As for characters, McCoy was a forgotten figure in “Star Trek Into Darkness.” That flaw has been corrected and Urban gets the chance to show off his great ability to handle dry humor while being at the heart of most of the action.
The best story line has Spock and McCoy separated from the rest of the crew. Their cantankerous relationship is put on steroids to create some of the most emotional and funny moments in the film.
The story has several of the crew members working together. There is a nice pairing of Kirk and Chekov that spotlights the work of Yelchin. Due to the actor’s tragic death after the filming, this will be his last appearance in the role and it is a beautiful reminder of what he brought to the character and franchise. There’s also a sweet nod to the original Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, who died last year.
The addition of the character known as Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) is another bonus. The alien who helps the Enterprise crew is brash, smart, resourceful and strong, all of the elements that would make her a great permanent addition to the team.
From action to aliens, “Star Trek Beyond” combines the legacy of the franchise with contemporary visual effects to create a production that should live long and prosper.