Have to say at the beginning of this, that I am not the biggest Star Trek fan. I’ve never seen a full episode of any series but I have seen several of the original run of films. Combine this with a few random pieces of trivia, the impression I’ve gotten from photos and the film Galaxy Quest and you get a rough idea of my pool of knowledge. Needless to say, I am not an expert. That being said, I feel confident in saying that Star Trek Beyond is the best film in the current series by some distance. And it’s because it has finally moved on from being obsessed with the original series and its details without forgetting its roots entirely. A tough balancing act to say the least but director Justin Lin does it with style.
At the beginning of the film, a classic Captain’s log entry informs us of how the crew has been getting on since the last film. They are over 900 days into their 5 year expedition and Kirk (Chris Pine) is beginning to feel the effects, wondering if it’s all worth it, whether they are just drifting through space, achieving nothing. Meanwhile Spock (Zachary Quinto) learns that his future self has died. That’s a tricky one to explain so i won’t. Then a distress call lures them into a trap where the villain Krall (Idris Elba) and his forces destroy the Enterprise and trap them on a nearby planet. They crew is split up in the evacuation and they must find each other and a way off the planet so they can stop Krall.
There’s a theme of mortality and getting lost that goes through this film. Really about Kirk adjusting to this new, less adventurous life he’s had since setting out on the five-year mission. He feels adrift and doesn’t think they are achieving anything because of just how big space is. This conflict is reflected in Krall also in ways I don’t want to spoil. I do have to spoil the conclusion though to lead on to my next point so forgive me. Basically Kirk realizes change is the only way to keep moving in this mess of a universe. We can not stagnate. And while that is hugely important sentiment that I completely agree with it is so incredibly relevant to the Star Trek Franchise.
Let’s look at why the reboot films have been received with mixed-reviews up to this point. There’s one reason for Star Trek fans which is that it’s not like the original and everyone else because they are just regular blockbusters. When you get down to it it’s an issue of what the films identify as. What Star Trek Beyond does is finally bridge the gap. It mixes elements from the original show with blockbuster action without those elements feeling forced in. Mainly because they aren’t plot points, they’re the visual elements. Best example I can think of is the set design on the planet, in particular the rocks. I know the rock design is a weird thing to focus on but honestly they look like what would happen if the original show had a budget. The iconic score does trojan work as well in creating that Star Trek feel. But none of these elements interfere with the blockbuster style action sequences that for the most part are really fun to watch which is exactly what I expect from the director who rejuvenated the Fast and Furious franchise. But if I have on critique of the film it’s the shootout scene as the Enterprise is being boarded by Krall and his men. Fast editing, shaky cam and flashing lights in a dark corridor made my eyes bleed. But honestly the rest of the film is good enough that I let giving me eye-cancer slide.
But really elevates this film above the first two films is that it’s truly an ensemble piece. The crew is split up and the best possible pairings occur because of it, the highlight being the cold, logical Spock and the pessimist Bones, as played by Karl Urban who in this movie can do no wrong. In fact, the entire main crew are performing better than they ever have int he series because they finally had stuff to say and do.
Star Trek Beyond does what no one thought possible and made a great movie off the back of two lackluster previous efforts.
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