With its fiftieth anniversary a few months away, the crew of the Starship Enterprise, in the Kelvin universe, heads back to this big screen this weekend with a sense of wonder and hope. With a new director and a new mission ahead, Captain Kirk and company will go against the odds – literally – with the thirteenth movie of the franchise. Could this film break the supposedly odd-number movie curse? It’s time to boldly go where into the vastness of space with my review of “Star Trek Beyond”
The crew of the federation Starship Enterprise, led by the enigmatic James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), is well into their historic five-year mission. We are three years into journey and the stress has started to take its toll on the crew. Some are thrilled to seek out new life & new civilizations and make life more interesting by making new friends & relationships. While others are beginning to feel the strain of the enduring mission, some began to question their own purpose in life including our strong Captain and first officer Spock (Zachary Quinto).
After a much needed shore leave at the new Yorktown Station, the crew is called back into action when a pod arrived at the station and its lone survivor; Kalara needs the crew to travel to a planet to rescue her crew from an attack. Little did they know that a swarm of ships led by the alien known as Krall (Idris Elba) attacked our beloved Enterprise. Krall wanted to retrieve an alien artifact that was used by Kirk for a failed diplomatic mission early on in the film. Those who managed to survive the horrific attack escaped and were imprisoned on the nearby planet. With the aid of a young scavenger Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), Kirk must rescue his crew, fight off the bad guys, escape the planet and save the Federation from potential doom. Sounds like another day at the office.
Beyond reminds me of why I loved Star Trek in the first place, a gallant crew working together to achieve a common goal. Of all the films in the now recently named Kelvin universe, Beyond is the closest to the look and feel of a Star Trek episode – with an emphasis of an action-adventure movie. With the help of actor turned writer Simon Pegg and Doug Jun, the writing brought out the best performances in each of the seven iconic characters we have come to grow and love since 2009. This film was more of an ensemble piece not just a movie that focuses on the big three. At the same time, we get to see special nods to the franchise itself in honor of the 50th anniversary. I will guarantee that you will cry at a couple of the moments.
Director Justin Lin brought a new feel to Beyond that was missing from the Abrams’ film – it delivered a storyline that felt more like an extended TOS episode than just an action-adventure film. While the movie’s pacing is a bit fast, it still allowed the audience to see the ongoing character development with some wonderful and exciting moments. The moments to look out for are the scenes with the logical Spock and the cantankerous Dr. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban) when they are working together to rescue the comrades or being stuck in a cave verbal sparring like brothers.
The movie also focused on Lieutenants Hikaru Sulu (John Cho) and Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana) to not only face Krall alone on the planet but keep their crew safe from harm. In of those special pairings, the storyline highlights the special gifts & personality traits that each officer possesses which make them the best crew in Starfleet – and most of all family. It’s that kind of camaraderie why we enjoyed Star Trek for five decades now.
With the newest additions of Beyond, Jaylah is a great character. Instead of the damsel in distress or the new girl that Kirk is most likely to kiss; Jaylah can hold her own and ready to fight. Boutella plays Jaylah with the heart of an engineer and the soul of a warrior that she would be a great addition to any starship crew. Jaylah’s interactions with Scotty were pure comic relief at first but when it came time to spring into action, it was a blast watching the pair work together.
Krall, played by Idris Elba, was a great addition as well to Beyond. I really enjoyed the slow buildup of Krall’s intentions of going to war with the Federation unlike the sudden realization of Khan’s intentions in the previous films. Elba’s performance is fun to watch that by the end of the day, he was a villain that you wanted to love and hate at the same time.
While this movie is one of the best in the franchise, you cannot help to wonder how they will continue without two of their actors – Anton Yelchin who played the whiz-kid Pavel Chekov and legendary Trek actor Leonard Nimoy who reprised the role of “Spock” in the last two movies. You will appreciate the nods that Beyond had given to the actors who have given so much to Trek over the years. Overall, Star Trek Beyond is one of the finest films of the summer. It has continued a voyage that has begun fifty years ago. It has taken us on a journey of the human condition through action, tragedy and some comedy. It has boldly gone where few franchises have gone before – to infinite appreciation.
FINAL GRADE: A
Thank you Leonard and Anton for the journey