It looks like third time’s the charm.
“Star Trek: Beyond” takes place about three years after the last film, “Into Darkness.” The USS Enterprise is now three years into a five year mission of exploration. While the ship is functioning and the crew is handling the adventure OK, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is starting to grow a bit weary.
His musings on life as a captain in deep space are cut short, though, when the Enterprise responds to a person in distress and in the process, is led into a trap. Ultimately, the ship gets grounded on an unknown planet and the crew is separated.
The first “Star Trek” in this trilogy from 2009 was fantastic but its sequel was rather lacking. Thankfully, “Beyond” gets things back on track. The movie doesn’t feels like a rehash of the previous film, something “Into Darkness” struggled with, and instead feels fresh while still capturing the Trek spirit.
The movie gets a lot right thanks to its balance of action and its many sources of drama. Whether it’s exploring Kirk’s questioning of his future as a captain or the struggle to reunite a fractured crew, “Beyond” always seems to be compelling and character driven.
That is, except for the villain, Krall played by Idris Elba. Krall very much reminded me of this year’s Apocalypse from the latest “X-Men” movie. Like “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the villain featured here was rather generic for most of his screen time. Toward the end of the picture, more backstory is given to Krall, and thankfully it does add some depth. But it feels way too late in the picture. There are some unresolved questions with his character, too.
Another issue with the movie is the third act features a way to beat a lot of enemies that seems a bit too convenient.
With that said, “Beyond” is largely a strong picture thanks to its endearing crew, played by a cast that has fully settled in their roles.
Especially satisfying was seeing Pine as Kirk, who now gets to fully shine as a captain. In the first movie, Kirk didn’t become captain until the end, in the sequel, Kirk had to struggle to maintain control of his ship as a rookie captain. Here, Kirk is fully in the leadership role, he’s a respected captain in Star Fleet but he’s questioning his future. It’s an interesting and new take on the character, who still has his charm and daring attitude but is now wiser and less brash.
Another great aspect of the movie is Scotty (Simon Pegg) who teams up with another survivor on the planet and new to the series, Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). The two have a lot of fun interactions with each other in the movie and it was great to see Scotty, as well as other characters like Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) get a little more to do here.
The real gem of “Beyond,” though, is the dynamic between Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban). The two are separated from the rest of the crew and the movie becomes a sort of buddy adventure, with their two personalities clashing. This aspect was a total blast.
As expected from this high of a budget, “Beyond” also features some solid special effects, especially during the moments where the Enterprise is shot down, which was actually gut wrenching to watch.
Overall, despite some issues with the enemies, “Star Trek: Beyond” gets a lot of things to work smoothly for a fun, exciting and wondrous sci-fi feature. 4 out of 5.