Paramount Pictures(HOLLYWOOD) — When I last wrote a review of a Star Trek movie, I received the wrath of Kahn: Fans – some of whom hadn’t even seen the movie yet — were furious I didn’t like Into Darkness. A few were also upset because I spoiled the movie’s predictable reveal. I apologized for that, but I will never apologize for disliking that movie.
I thought Pine’s Kirk was insufferable, and aped whiny Luke Skywalker in Star Wars Episode IV. I thought some of the plot points and decisions made by The Federation were so ludicrous, I had a hard time suspending my disbelief for the majority of the movie.
I also know some die-hard fans who were furious about the movie not being “canon.” Look, I grew up with Allan Asherman’s Star Trek Compendium prominently displayed on our living room bookcase — hey, Allan Asherman even came over to our house! But when it comes to these Star Trek movies, you know what? I don’t give a Tribble about canon. I just want to see a movie that makes sense and is entertaining.
So, I’m going to make this review completely spoiler free:
Star Trek Beyond is fantastic! The End. Love, David.
OK, I lied. I’m back.
Whether directors J.J. Abrams, Justin Lin and co-writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung meant to or not, this is the one Star Trek movie that absolutely, unequivocally says, “Gen X-ers: this one’s for you!” I am a Gen X-er…and there are moments in this movie that are catnip for anybody from that era.
We have a killer and endearing opening scene, followed by Pine as a much more mature and pensive Kirk. His first Captain’s Log does a superlative job of inviting us along on this particular journey: it’s human and relatable. A Starship captain’s struggle is real, yo! James Tiberius Kirk needs a change, and once the Enterprise arrives at the Federation’s newest, jaw-dropping space station, we find out his intentions when he meets with Commodore Paris (Shohreh Aghdashloo).
Minimal spoilers ahead!
Kirk and company are called back into action when an unidentifiable ship in distress comes hurtling towards the space station. The lone being on the ship claims to be a female officer from a distant planet whose crew was abducted, and she needs to get her ship back. Obviously, the Enterprise is the only ship that could handle this particular mission – but nobody could predict what comes next!
What ensues is, in my opinion, the best battle sequence in the whole of the Star Trek franchise. It is legitimately terrifying, as well as thrilling, and it’s when we meet our villain, Krall (Idris Elba). Director Justin Lin does a fantastic job of endowing that moment, and the ones immediately following, with a sense of hopelessness and doom and gloom I haven’t really experienced since Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Kahn.
Then, there are Dr. “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban) and Chief Engineer Scotty (Pegg). Maybe it’s because Pegg co-wrote the movie, but Scotty’s at his funniest here, while Urban’s DeForrest Kelly-inspired portrayal of Bones is just beautiful, and the best piece of casting in this series, period. Sure, Zachary Quinto looks like Spock, but there’s no character that links this movie more to the original TV franchise than Urban’s Bones. (Ok, maybe I care about canon just little bit.)
Another fine addition is Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), a bad-ass warrior with pale white skin and a zebra-striped face who is destined to be the darling of cosplayers everywhere.
That’s not to say that Star Trek Beyond is perfect. It contains an unlikely and unbelievable call to action which nearly ruins the movie, and it sells out the same way every other big-budget action movie sells out. But let’s not forget who’s directing here: the man behind a bunch of Fast and Furious movies, which sell out better than any other action franchise. The difference here is that this particular Star Trek movie goes to great lengths – okay, Beyond — to embody the ideals of the franchise’s late creator, Gene Roddenberry.
Specifically, the story is sprinkled with some powerful imagery regarding race, sex and gender equality. A great example is the sequence where we’re introduced to the space station: through camerawork and CGI, Lin shows us a testament to what can be accomplished when the universe collaborates. It is, more so than any of the other Star Trek films, an optimistic story about what is possible when we put our differences aside — while still celebrating those differences — and come together as a community.
And, of course, lots of *bleep* gets blown up.
Four out of five stars.
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