Star Trek Beyond is a fantastic summer blockbuster and is one of the biggest surprises of 2016. After a lackluster trailer and rumors that the film will be more like Guardians of the Galaxy, there was plenty of concern from fans that the third installment of the rebooted movie series wouldn’t do well. However, it turns out that it is the best of the three films so far.
The film’s story features an experienced Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) who has been venturing through space for three years and has gotten a bit tired of his duties. He decides to go on one last mission with his crew which includes Spock (Zachary Quinto), Dr. Bones (Karl Urban), Lt. Uhura (Zoey Zaldana), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (the late Anton Yelchin) and Montgomery ?Scotty? Scott (Simon Pegg), before trouble happens and a villain named Krull (Idris Elba) captures most of them. Kirk must team up with a mysterious new ally named Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) to save his crew and get off the planet.
One of the film’s biggest strengths is how it feels like a tribute to everything Star Trek, though it also remains an accessible film for newer fans. Moviegoers who didn’t see the first film or the sequel, Into Darkness, will have no problem jumping into Beyond as it introduces everything necessary to the plot, without bogging anything down with intense continuity. At the same time, there are plenty of small shoutouts that hardcore fans of the classic Star Trek series will recognize.
Where Star Trek Beyond succeeds over its predecessors is how it juggles the cast and makes them all feel vital to the story. Most of the characters are paired into two-person groups, and they venture through an unknown planet together to rescue the rest of the crew. This works because it gives all the characters plenty of screen time, so it no longer feels like the Kirk and Spock bromance show.
In fact, despite a few interactions, Kirk and Spock are barely on screen together throughout the film, though they do have a few good scenes together, just to show that their friendship has matured from the previous films. This actually helps the film feel different from the previous installments and also leads to hilarious banter between Spock and Bones.
Director Justin Lin is known for the first four films in the Fast and Furious franchise, so it?s no surprise that this is the most action-packed installment of the rebooted film series. While the action is both fast and furious, they never detract from the experience, thanks to some smooth editing. Simply put, the film’s pacing is perfect, as it’s never too slow or too fast.
If there are any flaws with the film, it’s the villain Krull. Despite a decent performance from Idris Elba, who manages to make the villain threatening, the character’s actual motivations are generic and a bit two-dimensional. Near the end, the story tries to make Krull a dark mirror version of Captain Kirk, but it is too little too late by that time.
Even with that lingering issue and a slightly rushed climax, Star Trek Beyond is still the best of the rebooted series. It’s the perfect film for the 50th anniversary of the beloved Sci-Fi series and is also accessible enough for moviegoers unfamiliar with anything related to Star Trek.