It’s hard to believe that Star Trek is now fifty years old. Ever since its debut in 1966, the franchise has spawned several movies and television spin-offs. Now, director Justin Lin delivers the 13th film with Star Trek Beyond.
Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine) is nervous about his upcoming birthday, because he’ll be older than his late father. He is offered a promotion to vice-admiralty, but he doesn’t know how to tell Spock and the crew.
Spock (Zachary Quinto) wrestles with mortality after learning Spock-Prime has died. Having split with Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), he wonders if he should leave Starfleet to help the Vulcan race.
During a layover at Starfleet’s Yorktown outpost, Kirk discovers a distress signal and launches a rescue mission. It turns out to be a trap set by Krall (Idris Elba), who commands a swarm of alien ships. Krall is hellbent on locating an object that Kirk recovered during a former mission. In an intense sequence, the Enterprise is ripped apart, and the disc section of the ship crashes on an unnamed planet.
On the planet’s surface, Kirk and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) struggle to contact the survivors. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban) and an injured Spock need to put aside their differences and work together. Meanwhile, Uhura and Hikaru Sulu (John Cho) are taken as Krall’s prisoners. As the odd man out, Scotty encounters a scavenger named Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), who needs his help in powering an old Starfleet ship.
The groups have to find their way back to each other and find a way to stop Krall, whose next target is Yorktown. To do so, they must face dense jungle, harsh terrain and a lack of resources. Along the way, they learn the truth about Krall and why he hates Starfleet.
The cast does a great job. Pine delivers a charismatic performance as Kirk, and he has proven to have made the role his own. He is older, wiser and mature as a leader, especially when his main concern is the crew. Quinto is a somber, thoughtful Spock, because he must deal with his older counterpart’s death.
Urban gets a lot of great lines as the ornery McCoy, and his banter with Quinto is one of the film’s highlights. The chemistry of Bones and Spock is like that of a married couple who can’t stand each other. Saldana shows depth as Uhura, especially when she holds her own against Krall. Nor does she need to rely on Kirk or Spock to come and rescue her.
Pegg steals the show as Scotty, who is out of his depth. His cheeky witticisms and technical know-how demonstrate his comedic timing. Although Yelchin doesn’t have many big scenes, his growth as Chekov is poignant, because his passing has cost us a great actor.
Sofia Boutella provides a welcome addition to the series. As Jaylah, she is assertive, confident and goal-oriented. She is significant, because she isn’t a helpless victim or Kirk’s love interest.
Elba is especially good as Krall, because he brings a cynical, menacing presence to the role. Near the end, his true face is shown, and the result is difficult to watch. As the viewer learns who Krall was, one cannot help but feel sorry for him.
Justin Lin’s experience on The Fast and the Furious franchise has served him well. He succeeds in deconstructing Star Trek and focusing on what makes the characters great.
Some fans say the Enterprise’s destruction is repetitive, because it has been done in The Search For Spock. However, Lin’s decision succeeds in taking the crew out of their comfort zone. There is a moving tribute to Nimoy, Yelchin, and the original cast.
Star Trek Beyond is a great addition to the franchise. The movie feels like a big-budget version of the show, but it keeps entered on the characters and plot. Pine, Quinto, Saldana, Pegg, and Elba give great performances.