Star Trek Beyond Plot Summary:
Deep into their five-year mission in space, the Enterprise crew is tasked with a simple rescue mission when their ship is overtaken by a powerful enemy (Idris Elba). Stranded and separated, the crew must unite once more to stop Krall from a sinister plot that puts the entire Federation at risk.
When you’re replacing the guy who helmed the first two Star Trek films and recently crushed it with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and downgrade to a Fast & Furious director (ugh), I went into this with the heebie jeebies. No need to worry. Star Trek: Beyond is blockbuster entertainment at its finest. It’s a movie that earns every single penny you spend, and then some. It’s thrilling. Efficient. Lean. Character driven. Beautiful dialogue. Funny. It is a glorious space romp that puts so many other lazy summer action flicks to shame. As someone who loves both previous movies, this continues the greatness J.J. Abrams started in 2009. But I know there are Trekkies who hem and haw at this new series. They want the good old days where the Enterprise crew is stilted, boring and siting on chairs looking at stuff. While you don’t get that, this movie is the perfect blend of old and new. It certainly makes a point of taking its time in the first twenty minutes, but it also never bores you. If Trekkies can’t get on board with this one, I can’t help you.
The movie actually gets off to a bad start. The first scene is horrible and jarring. We are thrust right into a CG crap-fest with characters who are right out of Star Wars: Episode II. Yeah. There’s also a lot of slap stick humor. All I kept thinking to myself was, “Great. Here’s another movie I’m going to disagree with the general public on. Oy Vey.” It took me a few minutes to get over that opening, but once we get through the garbage, it settles into another great Star Trek film.
It focuses right away on character. We get into the mindset of where all these characters are, most notably Captain Kirk (Chris Pine). Kirk is no longer the wise ass kid. There’s some of that, but Kirk has truly become Captain Kirk. While he’s personally unsure of who he is, there’s no doubt when he’s in the Captain’s chair, he’s in total control. Chris Pine can now play this role in his sleep. He’s just a damn good actor. Kirk goes through a simple character arc in this movie, but it totally works. The script by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung tells it perfectly. We also continue to build on the great friendship developed between him and Spock (Zachary Quinto), which was my favorite element to Star Trek into Darkness. It also refocuses on Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban), who admittedly got the short straw in the previous film. Him and Kirk have a superb scene early on that beautifully calls back to the first movie.
Speaking of Spock and Bones, if you were a fan of their contentious/respectful bond from the original series, then this is the Star Trek movie for you. They’re practically together throughout the entire film, and it’s spectacular. I’m sure it’s a comparison that’s been made in every review, but they are The Odd Couple. Funny and touching. Their dialogue is pitch perfect. I’ve always loved Quinto’s take on the character. He continues to be a phenomenal Spock, but it’s Karl Urban who gives the best performance.
This movie was all about pairings. I can’t imagine there’s a dark corner in the universe who complains about Simon Pegg’s Scotty. He’s simply a delight, and they pair him with a brilliant new character, Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella. Jaylah is an unapologetic bad ass, and definitely has her own pain to deal with in regards to the villain. Boutella subtlety plays all her demons. Nothing is over explained. Scotty also has a funny nickname for her that’s very Scotty.
The rest of the enterprise crew is awesome as always. Zoe Saldana as Uhura takes a back seat in this one, but Saldana brings it as she always does. John Cho has total command of Sulu. What’s cool about Sulu in this one is we get to see how skilled of a pilot he really is. Then there’s Chekov, which sadly reminds us of the tragic passing of Anton Yelchin. Chekov is so good in this movie. He’s the perfect sidekick to Kirk. It’s a shame Yelchin will never play this character again.
The only character left to discuss is the villain, Krall, played by Idris Elba. Elba certainly makes up for his “meh” Jungle Book performance here. For the first two thirds, I really liked the villain, but I wanted to get more on who this guy truly is, and why he’s doing what he’s doing. While the villain’s plot becomes excruciatingly cliché, it’s the final few scenes where we really delve into his character. By the end, we totally understand him. It’s a great slow build.
As far as I’m concerned, this new Star Trek series is 3-for-3. The action is as thrilling as ever. Tense as hell, well shot, and really keeps you on your toes, including a thrilling space battle, and a wonky Inception-like final fight. I also chuckled when something that has been controversial in this new series was used as a crucial plot device, but it’s flat out glorious and crowd pleasing. We also get a touching throwback to the old series that Trekkies will love. It’s not forced at all, in other words, not a Ghostbusters moment. It’s also a reminder that this new series has never been a reboot. It’s still a continuation in its own way. This series is becoming like Mission: Impossible. Before I walk in the door, I know what I’m getting. I can’t wait to see where they go next. Beam me up, baby.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Really Great)
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.