As the movie opens, the Enterprise of the Kelvin alternate universe is in the middle of its five-year mission of space exploration. Captain Kirk returns from an unsuccessful diplomatic mission questioning his role in Starfleet. As Bones McCoy points out in a private moment, Kirk is still competing with his dead father, especially on the impending anniversary of Kirk’s birth (and his father’s death).
The Enterprise heads for a deep space port named Yorktown where the crew can have a little downtime. However, we learn that Kirk is tiring of trekking and, to no crewmembers’ knowledge, has requested a transfer to an administrative assignment. Elsewhere on Yorktown, Spock, who feels he should be doing more to help New Vulcan, receives a visit from two Vulcans who notified him of Ambassador Spock’s death. His melancholy has already affected his relationship with Uhuru as they have broken up.
Before Kirk and Spock can act on their feelings, however, they are assigned to help rescue a stranded crew on another planet in the quadrant. However, just before arriving, the Enterprise is attacked and Kirk and crew must fight for their survival.
Star Trek Beyond deconstructs the characters and relationships of this alternate timeline crew and then spends the film reconstructing them. As the situation separates them, we see Kirk and Chekov working together. Sulu and Uhuru form another team on a different mission. Scotty and a newfound alien, Jaylah, are another team. Finally, we have Bones and Spock working together. As the film meanders along, these teams come together to fulfill an even bigger threat off planet.
One of the striking things to me, as a fifty-year viewer of this television and movie franchise is how well these new actors have stepped into the old shoes of their predecessors. The newer characterizations are so spot on that my brain is willing to accept the massive cast shift. This has been evident since the 2009 reboot, but this is the first time that I’ve felt the characterizations have moved beyond imitation and parody into inhabiting the characters as we grew to love them. I’m fully invested in this cast. Kudos to cast member Simon Pegg (Scotty) and Doug Jung who wrote the script which reflects the heart of the original television series.
At this point, I should mention the untimely death of Anton Yelchin, who played the rebooted Chekov. Unlike that of original cast member Leonard Nimoy, Yelchin’s death is not dealt with within the context of the film. Both are handled with slides at the beginning of the end credits.
Justin Lin has directed Star Trek Beyond with great energy which many expected as Lin made the Fast and the Furious franchise what it is today. However, Star Trek Beyond does not feel like Fast and Furious in space. The set pieces are fantastic, but Lin handles the character interaction with great skill. Idris Elba (as Krall) and Sofia Boutella (as Jaylah) are great as guest stars.
Star Trek Beyond is a welcome 13th edition of this franchise and third film in the rebooted series, Producer J.J. Abrams has already stated that another film is in the works with Chris Hemsworth returning as George Kirk. So. James T. Kirk will have the opportunity to work out his “Daddy” issues.
Meanwhile, enjoy Star Trek Beyond.
Live long and prosper.
★★★★☆ 4 out of 5 stars
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence