“Star Trek Beyond” is the third Star Trek movie with this particular iteration of the original crew of the USS Enterprise (quite possibly one of the most famous fake vehicles ever), which started with the 2009 reboot “Star Trek,” a reimagining of these iconic characters as younger and less experiences, embarking on their first missions, tested immediately by evil space forces of various sorts, bringing them closer together as a crew, etc. etc., you know the drill. If you aren’t on board with these movies by now, this one is not likely to change your mind.
On the flip side, if you do like these movies, you’ll likely really dig this newest installment because it is simultaneously a fun movie while also having some big stakes and featuring a villain, despite being a bad guy, still makes some sense when he discusses his reasoning for his actions. There are jokes, action scenes, a bit of a plot twist, and it all looks pretty, which all comes together to make for a fine piece of summer entertainment.
Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) volunteers his crew and ship for a rescue mission which goes wrong pretty quickly, resulting in the destruction of the ship and the crew crash landing all around a mysterious planet. Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Dr. Bones (Karl Urban) are stranded together, bickering the whole time and providing a good amount of comic relief the whole movie. Scotty (Simon Pegg) meets a mysterious…uh…woman? Woman type alien? Someone named Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), who does space kung fu, and they find Captain Kirk and Chekov (Anton Yelchin, RIP), while the rest of the crew is captured and imprisoned at some alien camp, and most of the movie is Kirk et. al. trying to reunite the whole crew and find a way off the planet. And the bad guy is some dude named Krall (Idris Elba) who ends up being kind of sympathetic which makes him way more interesting as a villain.
“Star Trek Beyond” is the most fun of these newest movies, as every actor finally feels like they have fully gotten into their respective roles and fully inhabit them, and having a screenplay co-written by Simon Pegg definitely helps. While the crew is fighting to stop a huge catastrophe that could result in countless deaths, the movie never stops being kind of light, never getting anywhere near as dark and oppressive as 2013’s “Star Trek Into Darkness,” which ended up being a detriment to this particular kind of sci fi movie. This new one goes more into the action adventure realm which is a much better fit for a modern Star Trek movie.
While this lighter overall tone is beneficial to the movie for the most part, it does make it feel a little more episodic than a movie like this normally would, like its just another stop along the way, just another story to be told before the next one comes around. There’s even a quick joke early in the movie about the episodic nature of Star Trek, which felt like a joke about the several television shows that have aired over the decades, but could be applied to this new trilogy, which they could theoretically keep coming back to for more movies. Which is probably good news for most normal Star Trek fans because at least this one is the best of this bunch and there’s no reason why entertaining movies can’t be made within this framework.
So “Star Trek Beyond” won’t make any new converts to the fandom, but it should stand as a solid entry into a very storied franchise that will surely continue to exist in some form for many more years to come.