A Movie Review
of Star Trek Beyond (2016)
By Lance Zedric
Star Trek Beyond, produced by J.J. Abrams and directed by Jeremy Lin, initially displayed the hallmarks of an underwhelming and somewhat dark offering, which is often the case when a sequel flies in the heady jetsam of two successful predecessors (Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness). But a funny happened on the way to the final frontier—what began as a plodding, formulaic character study blasted into warp speed and morphed into a fast-paced thriller that sucked the air out of the lungs like a busted oxygen mask in space.
Star date 2263 – the USS Enterprise is three years into its five-year mission to boldly go where no one has gone before — and the crew needs a break. During a much-needed pit stop at Starbase Yorktown, a massive space station on the frontier of Federation space, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) considers taking a promotion to vice-admiral and a desk job, while his loyal first officer, Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) ponders leaving Star Fleet to repopulate New Vulcan after his old planet had been destroyed in a previous movie (Star Trek – 2009). He and Lt. Uhura (Zoe Saldana) have been doing the galactic nasty for three movies now, and after too much “deep space nine” comms are breaking down. To add to the malaise, Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) and Mr. Scott (Simon Pegg) are edgy, and Mr. Sulu (John Cho) subtly comes out of the cosmic closet.
Just when things couldn’t get any worse, the Enterprise receives the ubiquitous distress call luring it into an unexplored nebula where lots of bad things happen at the hands of the evil, Krall (Idris Elba), an ugly reptilian miscreant bent on destroying the Federation. When all seems lost, Kirk and company, with the help of Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), a sexy, new wave, 23rd century martial arts fightin’, rock ‘n roll lovin’ alien, defy the odds and save themselves, Starbase Yorktown, and ultimately, the Federation. Moreover, the principal crew rediscovers its metaphysical mojo and becomes who we need them to be.
While not a cinematic supernova, Star Trek Beyond is solid entertainment and responsibly advances the legacy of the brand while placating millions of rabid Trekkies for another few years until the next movie is released. More importantly, Abrams and Lin remained true to the spirit of Star Trek by combining richly layered characters, a formidable villain, incredible special effects, a powerful musical score, and a sentimental message that resonates with people everywhere–that there is hope for the future.
The space based morality play created by Gene Roddenberry first aired on television in 1966, and this year celebrates 50 years in the public consciousness. The franchise has evolved from a simple weekly television show, conceived in a turbulent time, into a worldwide phenomenon that has survived war, endured social strife, flourished during economic hardship, remained unaffected by disco, and spanned two generations. Star Trek has tightly woven itself into our national fabric, and its iconic characters, in the original program and in the movies and television shows it spawned, have come to represent what is best about us safely sequestered in a future that is beyond reproach, relatively immune from contemporary judgement, and refreshingly free of the numbing, omnipresent, politico-historical barrage we bear in the real 21st century. Escapism at its best.
Beam yourself to the nearest theater and enjoy a decent movie. 8 out 10 stars in a sky full of them.