After the last Star Trek movie, things didn’t look all that great for the franchise.
The first film in the rebooted series back in 2009 took people by surprise by showing just how fun a Star Trek adventure could be, but the series regressed with its sequel Star Trek Into Darkness.
After some creative turnover, including replacing JJ Abrams as director and Roberto Orci as writer, the prospect of another Trek film looked bleak, especially when the film was delayed and the first trailer didn’t inspire much confidence.
Despite all that however, it turned out to be the best film in the series.
Directed by Justin Lin of Fast and Furious fame and co-written by Simon Pegg, who also plays Scotty, Star Trek Beyond follows the crew of the Enterprise as they continue their five-year mission to explore unknown universes and planets.
The all-star cast is all back, including Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as “Kirk” and “Spock,” along with Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho and the late Anton Yelchin.
Boredom has set in for the crew after so much time in space, until they are sent on a routine rescue mission that turns into an ambush by an unknown enemy. The crew is scattered and must work to reunite and overcome their foe, played by Idris Elba.
At this point, Lin is starting to build a reputation as a franchise savior – he resurrected the Fast and Furious franchise starting with Fast Five and turned that series into an absolute hit. Coming in after the subpar Into Darkness, Lin rights the ship (pun intended) and along with Pegg’s script provides a refreshing and entertaining space adventure.
The cast has all settled into their roles comfortably and no time is wasted having to establish who they are and their relationships. They’re all friends and care about each other, which comes across throughout the film.
With the characters separated after the ambush, we are treated to odd pairings of characters that introduce dynamics we wouldn’t normally see: Kirk and Checkov are split off, along with Spock and Bones, while Scotty is introduced to eventual ally Jaylah.
The plot gets a little muddled when it comes to the villain’s motive and what exactly is happening in the third act. At the end of the day though, it’s a classic story of bad guy wants to blow something up and the good guys try to stop him.
The story isn’t revolutionary or anything, but it doesn’t need to be because it is entertaining and engrossing enough with the action and character dynamics. The film also provides fitting tributes to both the late, great Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock, and Anton Yelchin, who tragically died a month before the film was released.
Star Trek Beyond doesn’t try to do anything other than provide the audience with a fun journey while we get to watch great characters interact with each other. It keeps things simple and by doing so, actually provides the best film of the franchise so far.