By Michael Kaye
Star Trek Beyond (Review)
Happy 50th anniversary to one of the greatest sci-fi franchises of all time! I'll be honest, growing up I was never a huge Star Trek fan, but recently I've begun to appreciate the franchise for what it is, and how important it has been to pop culture. It's great that J.J. Abrams has breathed new life into Star Trek, directing the first two movies in this rebooted film series that began in 2009. Now, he has passed the torch onto Fast and the Furious director Justin Lin for the latest installment, Star Trek Beyond.
Here's the story. The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.
Yeah, this movie was awesome! I might have to re-watch this one a few more times just to be sure, but as of now, I feel like this is the best of the new Star Trek films, and at the very least in the top 5 of the entire franchise. Here are my positives and negatives.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
First off, the cast is absolutely perfect. Say what you will about the first two rebooted films, the one thing Abrams got 100% correct was the crew aboard the USS Enterprise. By now, Chris Pine has finally found his groove playing Captain James T. Kirk, putting his own spin on the character as opposed to merely imitating William Shatner. Zachary Quinto isn't just playing Spock, he IS Spock! My favorite three characters in these films have always been Karl Urban's Bones, Simon Pegg's Scotty, and of course, the late Anton Yelchin's Checkov. Of the new characters, I really liked Sofia Boutella as Jaylah and Idris Elba as the main antagonist Krall.
The biggest surprise for me was just how well director Justin Lin handled the material. Obviously he's best known for the Fast and the Furious franchise, specifically turning a lame Point Break rip off into an insanely awesome action franchise, and in a way he puts that same energy into Star Trek. I can tell he's a big fan of the franchise because he's gone out of his way to match the tone of the original series as close as possible, while also delivering the goods in the action scenes. It might also help that Guardians of the Galaxy was really popular two years ago, and that may or may not have been an influence, especially during a scene that incorporates music into the plot in the most kickass fashion.
Simon Pegg and Doug Jung's screenplay is a breath of fresh air, especially to those who may not have been so enthusiastic about the first two rebooted films. It really bothered me that Into Darkness took the lazy route during its third act by remixing the end of Wrath of Khan, only to suck out all the tension by not having the balls to actually kill off a main character. Thank God there's none of that nonsense here. Instead, we have a pretty basic Star Trek story involving a bad guy trying to take down the Federation, but what makes this movie so enjoyable are all the various character interactions. It's cool to see characters like Spock and Bones teaming up, as well as all of Jaylah's interactions with Scotty and Kirk. Man, if only Pegg had been a screenwriter this whole time, cause he really understands these characters the best.
Finally, the music by Michael Giacchino was great. I could listen to his interpretation of the main Star Trek theme all day, it's just that good. I usually never say this, because half of the time it's not true, but Giacchino really is the closest thing we have to "the next John Williams." He probably has Kathleen Kennedy on speed dial, just in case he's needed for a future film, be it the main saga or an Anthology film.
Really, the one major negative I have is the runtime. I have a sneaking suspicion that there's an extended version of this film waiting to be released on Blu-Ray, which has now apparently become the norm for blockbusters. In this case, I'd like to spend a little more time perhaps developing Krall, and allowing a few scenes throughout the film to breathe.
Star Trek Beyond is most definitely the crowd pleaser of the Kelvin Universe films. Crafted by fans for the fans, I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the franchise. Who knows how much longer Paramount and Bad Robot intend on continuing these films, but I hope Simon Pegg and Justin Lin stay on board as writer and director for as long as they can.
Now I want to hear what you guys have to say! Have you seen Star Trek Beyond, and if so what did you think? Also, where does this rank on your list of favorite Star Trek films? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for my next review, where Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their iconic roles as Batman and the Joker respectively in the animated adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke!