Movie review: ‘Beyond’ a great take on the ‘Star Trek’ world
–Gene Roddenberry first created “Star Trek” the TV series 50 years ago. It was a brave new world, as we explored the reaches of space and what it meant to live in a different kind of world; a more utopian society.
That show lasted just three seasons, and it didn’t have great ratings or great critical acclaim, but the concept has endured. There’s been countless “Star Trek” series since, and with the release of the latest film, “Star Trek Beyond,” there’s been 13 major motion pictures.
In 2009, J.J. Abrams brought a new vision for “Star Trek.” That film featured the original characters with a completely different cast and a new vision for the world. It was followed by “Into Darkness” in 2013, a film that was decent but not as well received by fans.
While Abrams moved on to direct the new “Star Wars” film last December, the future of the “Star Trek” series seemed a little up in the air. Enter director Justin Lin (“Fast & Furious”) and a script from Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, and Doug Jung and suddenly the series had new life.
“Beyond” isn’t the best “Star Trek” film, but it is up in that discussion. It’s a film that settles more into the familiar rhythms of characters fans expect while delivering a more introspective and fun story.
The film picks up with Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban), along with the rest of the crew, in the midst of a five year mission. They’ve been in space for three years, and all of them are struggling with their calling.
Spock feels called to be more a part of re-building the Vulcan culture, while Kirk feels lost in space, and contemplates taking a new position that would take him away from commanding a ship. He also struggles with his deeper calling. Approaching his birthday, Kirk thinks about his father and wonders if he can measure up.
While the crew is enjoying some shore leave on a deep space station, a distress call comes in that spurs them to action. Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew take their ship and respond, but things don’t turn out as they expected. Instead, they’re ambushed by a villain named Krall (Idris Elba) who is bent on making the Federation pay for a slight in the past.
Soon the crew finds themselves stranded on a planet, facing an unknown threat and having to rally to protect their home.
I wasn’t one of those who was disappointed by “Star Trek Into Darkness.” I appreciate the complaint that it stole and, perhaps, failed to do justice to the greatest “Trek” movie ever, but I still thought it was entertaining, and a film that holds up on re-watch. But regardless of how you felt, there was a lot to overcome for the “Star Trek” reboot moving forward.
“Star Trek Beyond” is its own movie. It doesn’t borrow from the “Star Trek” cannon, and it isn’t weighed down by having to be an origin story. It is free to tell a story all its own, featuring these characters in a more lived in way. They’ve been a crew for a while, and they’ve been working their way through their five-year mission in space.
I think it’s fair to say that all the actors feel more settled into these characters now, too. And that’s a benefit to the storytelling. This reboot has an excellent cast and has proved that there is still a craving for these stories.
Lin is best known as an action director, and the action sequences in “Beyond” work well. But I was most impressed by some of the restraint and the slower, more introspective moments. I also enjoyed the script from Pegg and Jung, especially the way it added the comedic and character touches needed to fill out this world.
“Star Trek Beyond” isn’t a perfect movie, but it’s an enjoyable movie. It puts the series back on track, making the most of its performers and the kind of stories that “Star Trek” is uniquely able to tell. It gets you excited to see how this series will continue in the future.
“Star Trek Beyond” has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.
Three stars out of four.