Possible spoilers ahead!
“Star Trek Beyond” picks up three years into the Enterprise’s five-year mission, but life onboard the ship has become monotonous for captain James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine). While wondering what exactly they’re trying to accomplish this far out into space, Kirk secretly applies for the position of Fleet Admiral at Starfleet’s new Yorktown space station.
Meanwhile, Kirk’s friend and first officer Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) has doubts of his own after receiving upsetting news that impacts him personally. But before either makes a decision on their futures, the Enterprise is called into action, tasked with rescuing a crew stranded on the planet Altamid.
As the Enterprise approaches the planet, they’re attacked by a man named known only as Krall (Idris Elba), and his swarm of “bees,” who are after a biological weapon currently stored in the Enterprise’s vault. The Enterprise is destroyed in the assault, and many of the ship’s crew are kidnapped by Krall and taken to his base of operations. The few who managed to avoid capture and survived the crash landing, must work on locating each other, so they can save their friends and get off the planet before Krall destroys the Yorktown, and perhaps Starfleet.
I will admit to being one of the few people who liked 2013’s “Star Trek Into Darkness.” But I will also admit that Into Darkness has many flaws. Paramount knew it had to fix things with fans, and they started by hiring director Justin Lin. The studio even tapped co-star Simon Pegg (who plays Scotty again) to co-write the script with Doug Jung. The results were… pretty damn good actually.
Justin Lin proved to be a great addition for the Star Trek universe. Lin has an excellent handle on his action sequences, creating some of the biggest and boldest action scenes in the new films. The script by Pegg and Jung moves the story along at a brisk pace and does an excellent job balancing the action with good character moments.
Without a doubt, one of the film’s greatest assets is its returning cast, now firmly established in their iconic roles. Not surprisingly, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto have the most substantial arcs in the movie, and both delivered well-rounded performances that drive home Beyond‘s emotional elements.
Once again, Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, is a scene stealer and is responsible for most of movie’s comic relief. This time, Urban and Quinto spend a good amount of screen time together, and the banter between the two is classic Star Trek.
The rest of the Enterprise crew – Lieutenant Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg), Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), and Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin) – each have their standout moments, especially Scotty who ends up forming a teacher-student bond with a new character. In “star Trek Beyond” Chekov is given more to do this time around, making the movie a fitting sendoff for the late Anton Yelchin.
Both of Beyond‘s new principal cast members, Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella, are welcome additions to the Star Trek world. Elba is very menacing in the part and lends it a sense of gravitas that not many actors can pull off. Or to put it another way: when Krall threatens someone, you believe him. My only complaint about Krall is that (unless I missed it), the movie never explains why he looks the way he does.
The breakout star of Beyond is Sofia Boutella as Jaylah, a new alien ally who aids the Enterprise crew on Altamid. Anyone who saw the her in “Kingsman: The Secret Service” knows she can carry an action scene, and I think Boutella topped her Kingsman work in “Star Trek Beyond.”
Jaylah is handy in a battle, but more importantly, Jaylah develops a natural chemistry with the Enterprise crew, particularly Scotty (the two bond over engineering). I hope Boutella returns for the next installment in the series, because she’s one of the more compelling and memorable heroines to come along in years.
In the end, “Star Trek Beyond” is a visually stunning, action packed sci-fi adventure that gets the franchise back on track. And dare I say it? Beyond is one of my favorite Star Trek movies ever.
“Star Trek Beyond” final score: 9.5