The Enterprise is toast, the crew is scattered, and an alien warlord wants to use a biological weapon to destroy millions of lives. What’s a captain to do?
Without a doubt, Star Trek Beyond is the best of the Kelvin timeline Star Trek movies. If you’ve been disappointed by the first two… well, for one, you’re a gigantic wet blanket because the first two were fine, but Beyond does seem to go out of its way to answer some of the critical cries and whines that have been lobbed at it by entitled fans.
For one, it’s a lot lighter in tone despite the fact that bad things are happening. Where, admittedly, the first two films were dark and gritty in many ways, Beyond is a joy. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it had several very impressive action sequences… it’s just wonderful.
The characters – and I do mean all of them – are allowed to have their place in the sun making Beyond the best use of the Star Trek ensemble in a film since… ever.
I’m not knocking the old movies because you know I love them as well, but in Beyond, all of the crew have things to do and none of them are relegated to background characters as we’ve often seen before. Remember what Uhura was up to in The Wrath of Khan? What was Doctor Crusher up to in Insurrection? No one is left behind in Beyond and it’s just awesome.
What’s more is that, even though I’ve loved the Kelvin timeline movies, this is the first one where I feel like I’m actually watching Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Chekov, Sulu, Scotty, and Uhura and not just people dressed up like them. With Beyond, the new set of actors have claimed the roles as their own and are owning them to their fullest potential. Chris Pine, for example, finally brings us the devil may care contemplative and slightly more mature Kirk instead of the slightly douchey frat boy we’ve come to know. McCoy and Spock are finally showing that begrudging respect for each other. Uhura is getting to be something other than Spock’s girlfriend. Sulu is a family man. Chekov is overly enthusiastic.
Not only do the characters mean more this time around, but the action means more and even the sets mean more. My god, when the Enterprise is destroyed in this movie (not a spoiler, I know you’ve seen the trailers), it really means something and it hurts. I’ll be so bold as to say that the destruction of the Enterprise in Beyond actually has more impact than the death of the Enterprise in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. There, Kirk was using the Enterprise as a diversion and an escape… in Beyond, Kirk and his crew are desperate to save their ship against something that it obviously cannot survive. It’s a losing battle and it’s absolutely heart-breaking.
Perhaps that’s why I feel more connected with this movie than I have the other two. Beyond knows how to tug at your heartstrings. I actually teared up twice in this movie and both of those moments involved Leonard Nimoy’s Spock. I won’t spoil it for you, but Nimoy makes two posthumous appearances in Star Trek Beyond and they are handled first perfectly and then unexpectedly and perfectly.
While the villain of the movie, Edris Elba’s Kraal left a surprisingly light impact all things considered, I did enjoy the parallel drawn between him and Kirk — a parallel that I am not going to get into because it’s a major spoiler. Basically, it becomes a matter of the Star Trek message of peace vs. today’s climate of hostility and xenophobia. For those of you crying about nuTrek not tackling any contemporary issues, there you go. I honestly don’t understand how you can be so dull to miss it.
I’ve enjoyed the Kelvin Timeline Star Trek movies, but Beyond is a real return to classic form for this franchise… optimistic, character driven, and fun…. proving that even after 50 years, there’s still plenty of quality stories to tell and I’ll be watching them until I finally croak… long before Star Trek ever will.