STAR TREK BEYOND Review – Showing Respect

Since 2009, when J.J. Abrams helped to reboot the STAR TREK franchise, the new films in the series have been relatively successful in respecting their origin, a groundbreaking television series that ran from 1966 to 1969, three TV seasons that launched not only a franchise, but also a phenomenon.  From there, the original series made its way onto the big screen with six films, some great (WRATH OF KHAN) and some bad (THE FINAL FRONTIER).  The characters created became a part of the American pop-culture and the thought of anyone other then the original actors playing them seemed insane.  The key to the success of Abram’s reboot came from the respect that the new actors had for the original characters, whether it was Chris Pine’s fresh interpretation of Captain Kirk or Karl Urban’s spot on recreation of Dr. “Bones” McCoy. The films felt as close as a modern day STAR TREK movie was going to get to giving us a taste of the original series.  That is until now.  STAR TREK BEYOND keeps with the modern day feel, boasting incredible action scenes filled with amazing special effects, while giving us a more accurate nod to the drama and characters of Gene Roddenberry’s original vision.  Continue reading for our full STAR TREK BEYOND review.

STAR TREK BEYOND

The film starts with the crew of the Starship Enterprise already three years into their five-year-mission to boldly go where no one has gone before.  As things start to grow a little weary, or as Captain Kirk puts it, “feel episodic,” they are sent out on an assignment to rescue a lost ship.  Unfortunately, as they approach the planet where the ship is supposed to be located, the Enterprise is attacked by a powerful new enemy, Krall. The ship is destroyed and the few crew members that escape capture find themselves separated from each other, having to navigate the planet, regroup with the rest and then try to defeat Krall before he completes his destructive plan against the Federation.

STAR TREK BEYOND

Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm Entertainment

 

As most people know, the modern day blockbuster often relies a little too heavily on action and special effects.  Movies such as 2016’s INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE and X-MEN: APOCALYPSE are perfect examples of this.  As the director of four FAST AND THE FURIOUS movies, Justin Lin takes over the STAR TREK reigns and because of his past, moviegoers will expect some real impressive action which he definitely delivers, while also understanding that this isn’t a mindless action franchise.  Realizing that the character moments are just as important to a successful STAR TREK film as the action, Lin, along with writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung expertly balance this action with the right amount of character building moments and interesting story elements, making for a well rounded and much more enjoyable movie-going experience.

STAR TREK BEYOND

Left to right: Zachary Quinto and Director Justin Lin on the set of STAR TREK BEYOND from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm Entertainment

 

The first real action scene has the iconic Starship Enterprise being attacked by what looks like a swarm of bees, and may be the most intense set-piece of the summer.  What makes it work so well is that the script doesn’t immediately open with this scene.  Instead Pegg and Jung spend there time setting up the characters and creating some real relationships first.  One of my favorite scenes comes early on as McCoy and Kirk quietly sit in a bar and talk about where the Captain finds himself emotionally at this point in his life.  This is followed by a moment that takes Spock and Uhura’s relationship into an unexpected direction, fueled by an amazing moment that involves Admiral Spock (Leonard Nimoy), a moment that may be one of the greatest tributes to a former cast member, who has recently passed away, that I have ever witnessed in a motion picture. The character moments at the start of the film allow the intense action that follows to have some real elements of emotion as the attack on the enterprise unfolds.  With incredible special effects, impeccable editing and the right amount of emotional impact, Lin successfully proves that an action scene can succeed in ways that filmmakers behind big budgeted blockbuster movies like BATMAN V SUPERMAN don’t understand.

STAR TREK BEYOND

Left to right: Simon Pegg and Director Justin Lin on the set, photo from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm Entertainment

 

After the attack on the Enterprise the surviving members of the crew find themselves stranded on the planet below, separated from each other.  This is when the filmmakers shine as the story begins to delve into some interesting relationships, exploring them in stronger ways than we saw in the last two STAR TREK films.  For example, Spock and McCoy find themselves with only each other to rely on and their interactions are truly special as their differing opinions, as well as mutual respect for one another really comes through.  Karl Urban is as brilliant as ever, channeling his inner DeForest Kelley and playing the part with a genuine sense of humor that makes him feel more like our friend than a movie character.  Zachary Quinto is also at his best, as we can really sense Spock’s struggle to fight the emotions that his human side wants to express, while the Vulcan side doesn’t.

STAR TREK BEYOND

Left to right: Zachary Quinto plays Spock, Sofia Boutella plays Jaylah and Karl Urban plays Bones in Star Trek Beyond from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm Entertainment

 

Chis Pine’s Captain Kirk has always been an interesting reinvention.  Never feeling exactly like the William Shatner incarnation, there has always been an obvious respect for the original in Pine’s take on the iconic character.   Captain Kirk continues to grow in this third installment as Pine really shows the inner struggle that he faces while trying to come to terms with where he feels he belongs in the Federation, especially regarding his obligations to his late father, as well as to himself.

STAR TREK BEYOND

Kirk (Chris Pine) from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm Entertainment

 

STAR TREK BEYOND also gives us a great new villain, Krall, who seems to be created as a modern day Khan.  The one stumble in the reboots so far was INTO DARKNESS’ inclusion of Khan himself.  In the original STAR TREK series, as well as the amazing WRATH OF KHAN, actor Ricardo Montalban created what I personally consider to be the greatest villain in movie history and the attempt at a re-imagining of the character with Benedict Cumberbatch was in my opinion a mistake.  Pegg and Jung have put some thought into how to honor Khan as they choose to only pay homage to the character instead.  Krall doesn’t have a vendetta against Kirk himself, but instead the whole federation and Idris Elba does a great job with the character allowing him to respect the idea of Khan while also giving us someone completely new.  His determination and motivations are clear as Elba breathes some real anger and desperation into the role creating a character who is not just evil, but like Khan, has some real motivations to his vengeful actions.

STAR TREK BEYOND

Left to Right: Chris Pine plays Kirk and Idris Elba plays Crowl in Star Trek Beyond from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm Entertainment.

 

In the original series Nichelle Nichols gave us a strong female African American woman in her role as Uhura.  It was an important moment in television history and Nichols played the character to perfection.  In the timeline of the reboots Zoe Saldana has done a great job reinventing the character while never forgetting the importance of the original and I feel she does her best work as Uhura in STAR TREK BEYOND.  Really stepping it up, she allows Uhura a chance to reveal her true potential, coming off as a stronger and more self-assured woman.

STAR TREK BEYOND

Uhura (Zoe Saldana), photo from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm Entertainment

 

The real standout performance though goes to a new ally to the Federation.  Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah adds some real weight to the story as a whole.  She’s a feisty, take no prisoners kind of girl that befriends Scotty (Simon Pegg), beginning a relationship that I hope to see more of in future installments.  Jaylah has a past with Krall which drives her need to rediscover some sense of trust and family with the Enterprise crew and Boutella fills the character with a real sense of struggle as she must figure out whether or not she can trust Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty enough to eventually want to help them.

STAR TREK BEYOND

Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), photo from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm Entertainment

 

STAR TREK BEYOND may be the best of the big budget summer blockbusters.  The way that it respects the original series, especially the characters, is incredible.  There’s even a moment towards the end of the film (not a spoiler) that gives a big nod to the original actors from the original series.  The film never skips a beat, mixing the perfect amount of character development, story and action, making it the perfect roller-coaster ride for moviegoers everywhere.

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About Mark Oguschewitz

Mark Oguschewitz moved to Los Angeles, California after graduating with a film degree from Columbia College in Chicago, Ill. Pursuing a career in the industry, Mark became an award winning freelance editor. He is also known for being the creative consultant for the podcast "Skywalking through Neverland" and co-host of the Podcast "Talking Apes TV." Mark's short film "Gourmet" took the Best Micro-Short honor at the International Horror and Sci-Fi film festival in 2007. His spare time is all about movies. It's not just entertainment, but has become more of a real passion, as he tries to see everything he can. Art house or Blockbuster – It doesn't matter, he loves them all.