For those who were in fear that “Star Trek Beyond” would be bad, fear not. The third installment in the “Star Trek” reboot got a bit of a face lift, with new director Justin Lin and new writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung giving the series a refreshing boost. The filmmakers weren’t kidding when they said that this movie would be more grounded–it quite literally is–and that it’d feel more like the original series. It brings back the 2009 film’s lighter tone, focuses on the characters and their capabilities and is, simply put, a pretty fun adventure.

Almost three years into their five-year space mission, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is feeling fatigued. He’s a bit lost. What is his purpose anymore? Is this where he really belongs? His birthday is approaching and he’s disheartened to find that this year, he’ll have lived one year longer than his dad did. Spock (Zachary Quinto), too, seems to have come to a conclusion of sorts about his future with the USS Enterprise when news of Ambassador Spock’s death makes itself known.

While docked and taking a short break, the crew (Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin, who recently passed away in a tragic accident) receives word that a ship has been stranded inside a nebula. Intent on rescuing the ship from the planet below, Kirk and company are surprised when they’re attacked and the crew kidnapped. With the bridge crew grounded and separated from each other, they must find a way to regroup and figure out what happened and why the lethal Krall (Idris Elba) wants to get his hands on an ancient artifact they’d picked up from a prior mission.

“Star Trek Beyond” is less intense than its predecessor, but Justin Lin’s directing is such a breath of fresh air. While the previous two films were largely space fighting, “Beyond” combines the two so there’s some in-space action, but also lots of hand-to-hand combat and adventurous chase scenes on the planet they’re marooned on. The film is very bare-bones and level-headed when it comes to its action and momentum. Lin knows just when to go full-throttle and when to dial it back and focus on other aspects.

What makes “Beyond” work so well isn’t even Idris Elba as the villain, although he is fairly creepy and sinister, but rather the camaraderie and unity the bridge crew displays with one another. The film, above all else, had a lot of heart and it’s obvious from the start that the plot is less about villainy and more about the space explorers and their relationships with each other. Co-writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung innately understand that the crew is central to the franchise’s success and therefore set out to explore the characters further.

Dr. “Bones” McCoy and Spock, in particular, have a lot of fun scenes together and they bond more than they ever have in the previous two films. Kirk and Chekov get some nice moments as well, and Uhura is paired off with Sulu. So the interactions wind up being ones we haven’t necessarily gotten to see before, which provides a fresh perspective to the dynamics of the group. As a villain, Krall isn’t too enthralling and is one of the weaker aspects of the film. How his true identity is revealed is a bit too clear-cut and convenient, but he serves the purpose of being the exact opposite of what the Federation and the Enterprise crew stands for: Togetherness and peace. Sofia Butella as Jaylah is the newcomer who has more complexity than Krall. She’s a survivor and an enemy of Krall, as well as someone who’s willing to help the crew so long as she’s able to get off the planet herself.

“Star Trek Beyond” is probably the most humorous “Trek” film of the trilogy. The banter exchanged between Bones and Spock is the highlight of the film. Lin has his own directing style and you can bet that the action sequences are fantastic. The film perhaps could have done with a bit more complexity, but there’s still heart and humor to alleviate the weaker aspects of the film. “Beyond” is full of fun, entertaining, and action-packed moments. Each of these has their moments and every character gets to shine in his and her own way. Anton Yelchin’s Chekov gets a lot more screen time and given his untimely death, each moment is precious with him onscreen since it’s the last “Trek” movie we’ll ever see him in. “Star Trek Beyond” is light and hopeful and feels like a very long, but improved and upgraded episode of the original series, which is fitting as the franchise celebrates fifty years.

Pretty Good

"Star Trek Beyond" is easily the most humorous of the three in the rebooted series. There isn't too much complexity, but the group dynamic, the action, the banter between Bones and Spock, and the adventure prove to be a lot of fun.



About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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