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Star Trek Beyond – Movie Review

The summer film season is always a mixed bag of emotions for me. There’s the thrill of all the blockbuster films as the studios roll out their big guns to compete in the cinema royal rumble. There’s the excitement at seeing the next epic installment in that film series you love so much. There’s the anticipation at getting to see all the great kids films that drop as distractions to the weeks of summer holiday boredom. The trailers all release a good six months ahead of time. You get excited at the prospects and jump on board a few hype trains along the way. But what I love the most is that with summer films, you never know what to expect.

Every year I am surprised by certain releases. Sometimes it’s a nice surprise and a film turns out to be fantastic when I wasn’t expecting it. Other times I go into a film eager to see something spectacular, yet I come out horrified at the uninspired garbage I witnessed. Whatever the case, I actively try and see every summer film because part of being a writer is consuming media, both good and bad.

Star Trek Beyond (poster)This year has been quite a bad one for summer movies. I think most people would agree that the films on offer this year have been quite poor. Then along came Star Trek Beyond. I will admit to you that when I saw the trailers for this film I groaned in frustration. The trailer was super slick, full of action snippets and Rage Against the Machine audio clips. It showed the Enterprise getting destroyed and some kind of swarming enemy made up of blurry CGI. I went into this film skeptical. The trailers didn’t excite me and I had little faith in the franchise after Into Darkness.

Star Trek Beyond sees us rejoin the crew of the Enterprise three years into a five year mission. The crew’s bored and a little jaded about what they are doing. There is even a great line of dialogue from Kirk about how life had become, “episodic”. We catch up with everyone to see how things have changed in the aftermath of Into Darkness. Thankfully that film’s influence is far from present. There is barely a mention of the previous film and I think that was a smart choice to distance itself.

The main story starts when the Enterprise reaches a super awesome Federation space station called Yorktown. It shares a lot in common with Elysium, but on a scale of the Citadel from Mass Effect. Shortly after, an escape pod arrives at Yorktown carrying a strange alien. She wants the Federations help in rescuing her crew trapped on a planet inside a dangerous nebula. Naturally, the Enterprise is dispatched to conduct the rescue operation. The Enterprise is ambushed on arrival by a strange swarm of alien ships. They obliterate the famous vessel, forcing Kirk and his crew to abandon ship. The action then takes place down on the surface of the mysterious alien planet and the story goes from there.

I won’t ruin the film for you as I believe it’s well worth your time and money to see. This film was what every summer movie wants to be. It was entertaining, funny, enthralling, action-packed, and enjoyable from start to finish. This film more than any other since perhaps, First Contact, encapsulates what Star Trek is all about. I attribute a lot of that success to Simon Pegg, self-confessed Treky and all round super nerd. Pegg was the perfect choice to write this film. He has a background in excellent comedy (Sean of the Dead, Spaced, Hot Fuzz) and he loves the source material with an obvious passion.

Star Trek Beyond (screenshot 1)

The script for this film was great. The dialogue was quick, funny, and engaging. Every element of the narrative was present and capitalized on to great effect. For example, a necklace is introduced into the story, a simple gift from one character to another. Later on in the film, the necklace was tied directly into the actions of the main characters, thus justifying the earlier scene to set it up.

Even the new character, played by Sofia Boutella, who is introduced during the second act, became an integral part of the story. She didn’t feel like an odd addition to an already legendary cast of characters. She fit right into the mix and she was never once used as a goal or love interest for another character. She was a new character with her own arc and place in the story and I loved it. I hope to see her return in the next installment.

Star Trek Beyond (screenshot 2)

Every scene in the film was used to its greatest effect. It felt like the writers worked with the director to make sure there was no fat in their screenplay. Speaking of the director, Justin Lin does an outstanding job here. Beyond is beautifully shot, with a great range of angles and shots to show off the alien landscape, or focus on a dramatic character moment. There is also a distinct lack of lens flare. This might seem like a trivial point, but people who’ve watched the Abrams Trek films will understand how big of a deal that is.

Lin does some incredible things with camera angles during the space/antigravity scenes of the film. Lin has shown us his vision of what Star Trek is, while returning the series back to its roots within the space of one movie. Lin’s mastery of directing an ensemble cast is well used here. Every character gets some great moments and no one feels like a side character. The old Star Trek used to revolve around Kirk and his struggle, whereas Lin’s film focuses a lot more on the crew and their collective problems. All those years working on Fast and the Furious with their large casts pays off here.

Star Trek Beyond (screenshot 3)

You could argue that Zoe Saldana’s Uhura doesn’t get much to do. She is present throughout a lot of the movie though, and I feel like her presence does have an impact. Idris Elba also joins the series for this outing. I feel like his impact as the main protagonist was undersold. His character is quite generic, and his motivations don’t make a great deal of sense, neither does his plan. He is menacing though, and his presence is always felt when he’s in a scene. It still feels like Hollywood is stuck when it comes to memorable antagonists.

There is a lot to like in Star Trek Beyond, far more than I ever expected there to be on the back of the trailers. I enjoy being surprised though. Out of all the films I saw this summer I enjoyed this one the most. It’s not even close with anything else, this is a fantastic summer movie, and a fantastic Star Trek movie. I couldn’t have asked for more from Pegg and Lin. I hope that they return for the next installment and I’m sorry for ever doubting Lin as a director choice for this film. Now let’s see how they cope when they introduce time travel!

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Rating: 8.9/10 (74 votes cast)
Star Trek Beyond – Movie Review, 8.9 out of 10 based on 74 ratings
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12 Comments

  1. iberios says:

    OMG, what is with all the hate for Into Darkness?!?

  2. John A. Long says:

    I still want to see, how they deal with a Mirror, Mirror, situation, and time travel.
    What are they going to do with that ship they fixed, after losing the Enterprise? Update it, and rename it Enterprise? It’s not that I don’t approve of fixing up the ship that they fixed up, I do. I think it was creative
    and imaginative. But what’s going to become of that fixed up ship?

  3. Keith says:

    A great, not too complicated story accompanied by a great script and great actors, and a director with a keen eye. Into Darkness failed Star Trek and its fans. Beyond make up for that and more. Kudos to all.

  4. bob says:

    which Star Trek Beyond did you see, cause this one was pretty bad. Overall it was the second worst movie I have ever seen. I really liked the two others. but this was shallow lacked direction, had horrible plot line, The acting was pour as well. the action was overdone.

  5. G Money says:

    This film exceeded my expectations. It felt like all the other older Star Trek films that have come before it. Best film all summer!

  6. Thomas Forde says:

    I agree it was a terrific Star Trek movie. A very good recovery from ‘Into Darkness’. But I think there is a fine line between kitschy and stupid. The motorcycle that just happened to be on the bridge of the stranded ship. That was stupid. And IDK if I missed something, but how could the villain not know the location of his old ship, cloaked or not? And how can Kirk ride through such unfamiliar terrain at 100 mph with such precision? And while the effect of slaughtering the swarm was cool, the method, radio, was stupid. Still, I agree. It is a great movie.

  7. James Campion says:

    Great review. Your passion is felt and I am motivated to see this now. This is only the 2nd Trek film I have not seen in a theatre as I too was not excited for it. The trailer turned me off completely. I will make it a priority now. Thank you.

  8. bob_villa says:

    The premise of this movie is “the ultimate weapon”, yet in the beginning of the movie they didn’t seem to need it? They over-whelmed and destroyed the Enterprise with no difficulty. I’m sure J.J. Abrams had some say in this script…so it is a little surprising to me?

  9. Spocksgirl says:

    I was underwhelmed. I am a Trekkie from way back. Unlike some Trekkies, I loved the first reboot…loved it. But these last 2 movies were THE WORSE. I think the golden age of Star Trek is gone. It’s all CGI and lens flares. No substance. The actors were sleep walking through their roles, especially Zachary Quito. Simon Pegg was entertaining. I always see Star Trek movies more than once…not the last two Save your moola.

  10. Phasers on StuN says:

    I’m a huge Trek fan from way back. Personally, I loved Into Darkness but felt completely underwhelmed by Beyond

  11. I’m a Star Trek fan and I was also underwhelmed. I think it is the weakest of the new Trek films. A few people had commented about the great character moments and how the actors have filled the roles etc. All true. However, the film itself was a mess. It was an action film with Kirk in the Stallone/Arnie/Bruce Willis/The Rock with everyone else as supporting cast. There was a lot of running, shooting, jumping, riding bikes, doing stunts on bikes, fist fights and so on. Trek films and episodes make me feel something. The other 2 films made me feel. I got nothing from this film. Spotty story, plot holes, weak character development. A hot mess. Save your money.

  12. bitadkins says:

    I saw Beyond with my oldest son (whom I’m proud to say I’ve turned into the Trekker *I* have been since the first television broadcast!) and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. I was not as devastated by the destruction of this Enterprise as I was in the original movie production, but it was a very pivotal point. I really feel good about this reboot and simply enjoy watching the movies as they come out. And yes, even though we were in a too-loud, 3-D IMAX theater, it IS worth the time and money spent. I’d even go see it again at the same theater!!!!

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