Star Trek Beyond commemorates Star Trek's 50th anniversary with lots to love. Still unlike the previous two reboot entries--it's hard not to notice that the film takes one major miss step.
Note: Beyond has been out for a few weeks now. There are SOME SPOILERS AHEAD.
Three years into its five-year mission, the USS Enterprise arrives at Starbase Yorktown for resupply and shore leave for her tired crew. Struggling to find continued meaning in their mission of exploration given the endless nature of that objective, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) has applied for a promotion to Vice Admiral and commanding officer of Yorktown. He recommends Spock (Zachary Quinto) as the new captain of the Enterprise.
Meanwhile, Hikaru Sulu (John Cho) reunites with his family, Spock and Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana) amicably end their relationship--shortly after he also gets word from New Vulcan that Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy)has passed away, Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg) works to keep the ship operational and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) tries to up his social game.
The respite is short lived though when the Enterprise is dispatched on a rescue mission after an escape pod drifts out of a nearby uncharted nebula. The survivor, Kalara (Lydia Wilson), claims her ship is stranded on Altamid, a planet within the nebula. The rescue turns into an ambush when the Enterprise is overwhelmed by a massive swarm of small ships and is quickly torn apart. The swarm's alien commander, Krall (Idris Elba), and his crew board the ship, and unsuccessfully search for a relic called an Abronath that Kirk had obtained for a failed diplomatic mission. Krall has taken many of the crew from the ship. As the dying Enterprise continues to break apart the saucer section hurtles towards the planet; the survivors abandon ship in escape pods...
Pegg co-wrote the script with Doug Jung, creator of TNT's short-lived "Dark Blue" series and writer of the upcoming Bad Robot film "Diamond". For the most part the story works very well.
I loved the new alien character of Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) She aides our heroes once they land planet-side. She is a great addition to the pantheon of strong female characters that populate the franchise. Boutella is given a wide range of things to do here and is up to the task. I hope that this isn't last we see of her in Trek.
The story separates the crew for most of the action allowing for some great character interactions. I was especially thrilled that the famous Spock/McCoy dynamic was finally given its due. Something that the two previous films sorely lacked--save for a few moments. There are so many nice Trek nods and touches throughout that I can overlook that I had to watch the Enterprise get destroyed for the umpteen time. Enough guys.....Each one of the main cast members is given a few moments to shine beyond Kirk and Spock. The film boasts a nice nod to Star Trek-TOS that put a lump in my throat--given that we lost Nimoy in the real world.
Fast and the Furious film franchise director Justin Lin took over directing duties after "Star Trek" '09 and "Star Trek Into Darkness helmer J.J. Abrams went off to steer Star Wars: Episode VII. Lin has a deft hand with both the action set pieces and quieter character stuff--proving that he was a great choice to take over the center seat. My issues with it as a plot device aside--the destruction of the beloved starship was exciting to watch....Lin's fondness for Trek is clear and he knows how to work its strengths.
My biggest gripe with "Beyond" is the big bad Krall. You manage to grab one of today's best actors for the antagonist and like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War before it he is poorly realized. Through no fault of Elba Krall has such muddled back story and unclear motive at times that whatever it truly is ends up a big disappointment. The film's big twist as it was in "Darkness" ruined thanks to an ill-advised promo push prior to the film's bow. Krall is a lot like fellow Trek baddie Ru'afo (F. Murray Abraham) in Star Trek: Insurrection if I were into ranking the lower end of the franchise villains. Given the other recent examples I cited Hollywood has a villain problem for sure bringing "Beyond" down a bit over the other reboot entries.
In the end "Beyond" and it's many Trek-isms make it a must see....