“To boldly go where nobody has gone before”. A sentence that people where wondering if J.J. Abrams, director of the previous two Star Trek films understood after Into Darkness was released in 2013. Despite being very well made and acted, Into Darkness was a modern retelling of Wrath of Kahn. And fans wanted to see more than a story they all know by heart. Abrams finally answers the fans three years later with Star Trek Beyond. Abrams, executive producer of the new franchise, brought in Justin Lin, Fast and Furious franchise director, for the third film in the rebooted franchise after he chose to direct Star Wars. And the fans, still unsettled from Into Darkness, were even less than happy. And voiced their opinions loudly on Twitter in 2014.
Abrams, throughout his career, has proven time and time again just how good of an eye for talent he has. And Star Trek Beyond has only cemented Abrams judge of talent. Written by lifelong Star Trek fan and actor, Simon Pegg, and Confidence writer Doug Jung. Beyond sees the crew of the Enterprise half way into their 5 year mission of exploration in deep space. And Captain Kirk is beginning to doubt why he’s out there. And throughout the story, we see everyone of the crew go through the same type of journey when Kirk accepts a rescue mission in an isolated nebula that sees the Enterprise attacked and destroyed by a million ship armada lead by Idris Elba’s Krall. And through our crew’s efforts of fighting Krall and getting their captured crew back, we see them each go through a journey similar to Kirk’s that only cements that they belong on the Enterprise – culminating in the best moment in the film.
Lin, the first director other than Abrams to direct this rebooted franchise doesn’t see any noticeable changes to the franchise – outside of no lens flares – because Lin is actually a talented director in his own right. Any skill that he has is hidden behind the arguable quality of the Fast and Furious scripts and the vision of Vin Diesel. What Lin has brought to this film is a tone and tempo that feels like the material that these new films are based off of – the original series. Gone is the dour and dark tone of Into Darkness, replaced with the feel of adventure and strong characters that we’ve gotten to know over the past 50 years.
This crew may have been together since 2009, but through Lin’s direction, it finally feels like this crew has embraced these characters. Not only are these actors finally feeling like they’ve truly become these characters, but have finally gained that feeling of camaraderie the original crew has. To Lin’s credit – and something we can’t give to Abrams – every member of this crew gets their own time to shine.
Chris Pine knows Captain Kirk. He encompasses the leader that will always put the needs of his crew above his own. And he brings his A game to Beyond as he wrestles with his choice to leave his family. But every good hero is only as good as the villain. And this film gets that in spades with Idris Elba. A man who brings his passion for life into his performance as the alien, Krall. A character who, in a lot of ways, is what Kirk could turn into. He immediately asserts his domination over this crew by boarding the Enterprise and attacking Kirk head on. Though most of the movie is a build up to Kirk and Krall. Ebla is given the equally passionate Zoe Saldana to play against, and to her credit, never gives up the screen to Elba’s immense presence. Through the will written script, Zachary Quinto is given a truly unique performance to play with by using Leonard Nimoy’s own death to define his Spock.
True credit has to be given to the rest of this crew, John Cho, Karl Urban and Anton Yelchin. Characters that have fallen through the cracks of the past two films are finally given their time to shine thanks to the experience Lin has with ensemble casts and a well rounded script. Urban’s Bone’s steals the film with his dour outlook on almost everything. As well as the confident and advisor for Kirk. For a majority of the film, he’s paired with Spock and, credit to Urban, brings out a truly unique chemistry with both actors that feels absolutely genuine. John Cho finds himself unintentionally in the middle of a debate with his Sulu. For the first time in 50 years, this new series of films has outed a crew member – Sulu. And the man who created this character – George Takei doesn’t see it that way. He’s strongly voted his opinion that Sulu isn’t gay. Credit to the film makers of this film for being respectful of Takei’s objections and handling their outing of Sulu in a way that seems real and not forced or contrived. Sulu has always, is the one with the clear head forward in any situation. Trapped with Uhura in Krall’s base, he’s always looking for that way out.
Perhaps the fact that this is Anton Yelchin’s last time in the uniform is what makes his performance stand out. But Checkov’s dramatically increased screen time truly shows us the talent of an actor who goes from comedic to deadly serious faster than a heart beat. Checkov is given a lot to play with in this film and he delivers.
Pegg’s Scottie continues to be the role that keeps the crew together by literally bringing the crew together after they crash. Through this, we meet the talented Sofia Boutella playing Jaylah. A woman who has spent a life time on this planet avoiding Krall and his forces. Boutella is the new comer to a lot of bigger then life characters and not only does she not five up the screen to any of them. She punches back a lot – a testament to Boutella’s talent with the larger then life personalities she’s acting against. Jaylah is crafty. She’s spent her years on the planet building traps and weapons to help fight off Krall. She’s full of attitude, extremely sharp, and a bit of an angry streak. The crew of the Enterprise is in need of a new navigation officer, they don’t need to look far. Jaylah would fit right in.
The crew sees itself off the plant, chasing after Krall’s million strong armada. The chase culminating in the perhaps the best moment for the crew in the past 50 years. Star Trek Beyond has brought with it any number of issues, first and foremost is Lin coming on as director. And to Lin’s credit, he met all of these problems head on and beat them. This new series of films is now three films in and is finally starting to feel like a Star Trek film. These film makers deserve a lot of credit for handling the issues of this film. And these deserve even more for the already green-lit Star Trek 4. Chekov will not be at his station. They’ve already confirmed that the role Yelchin truly owned will always be his for this new franchise.
This film is very much worthy of 5 stars in a the film rating system because it’s everything that you want out of a summer movie, adventure, love, escapism, thrills, comedy. In 2013, Into Darkness left the fans wondering about the direction of the series. But with Beyond the film makers ensured us that the voyages of the starship, Enterprise, will be ongoing for years to come. To continue going boldly where no one as gone before.
5 STARS – “delivers a “fast & furious” shot of adrenaline back into the franchise”