I am an absolute fan of the modern reboot for Star Trek.
The first part in 2009 was a refreshing take on the crew of the USS Enterprise, led by Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto), and did indeed merit a sequel. The unfortunate thing about its sequel, Into Darkness, is that the film was more fitting of the witty subtitle ‘Khan Harder’; It being a retread of the very same motivations the crew had in the previous feature.
Thankfully though, the franchise had enough dilithium in its chambers to go to warp once more for its third outing, Star Trek Beyond, which now finds itself helmed by Fast & Furious saviour, Justin Lin.
The crew of the USS Enterprise are halfway into their Five-Year Mission, when they are attacked by a seemingly unstoppable wave of unknown aliens, forcing them to abandon ship. Stranded on an unknown planet and with no apparent means of rescue, the crew find themselves in conflict with a new and ruthless enemy.
I do love both parts of the modern reboot films for Star Trek, it’s true (or else it would render my whole opening statement pretty moot, huh). Bar its flaws, Into Darkness had some really big, fun set pieces that sustained the universe’s continuing success and meant we were definitely going to join the crew of the Enterprise on their Five-Year Mission.
Which is where the film picks up.
Opening on a melancholic monologue of sorts from Kirk (‘Daddy Issues’ still festering away and coming into play later in the film) after he fights some aliens (because Kirk), the crew disembark to refuel at a new orbital space station named ‘Yorktown’ (A great reference to both the historical battle and Hamilton: The Musical), which becomes the Earth-centric environment for the film without placing them back on Earth; Which is genius because for a space-based crew, we saw them on Earth in the previous films A LOT.
After being tasked to save a crew stuck within an uncharted nebula (a thing that Kirk craves more than Nathan Drake does), the Enterprise soon finds itself outnumbered, outwitted and quickly marooned on an alien world overruled by Krall (Played by Idris Elba, who still finds himself in the ‘Top 10 Most Beautiful People’ list even as an alien warlord).
With the entirety of the crew returning from past films, Star Trek Beyond starts to move us toward a universe where the previous timelines are beginning to matter less (bar that present piece of information from former helmsman JJ Abrams advising that Kirk’s father George (a.k.a THORge Chris Hemsworth) would be returning), which means they’re starting to have adventures intrinsic to their timeline, instead of ones inherited or influenced by their alternate (Original Crew) timeline.
This means we’re starting to see fresh, new flora and fauna on strange worlds, which in itself provides a fresh, new experience.
Little scenes like traversing a forest with weird floating alien things means we’ve already experienced 100% of what was on offer in Into Darkness, which basically reintroduced the Klingon and Tribbles…and maybe some hot new takes such as that rocky asteroid that Bones (Karl Urban) gets his hand stuck in a proton torpedo on (not a euphemism(?)), and a brief look at a primitive world at the start of the film.
THE. START. OF. THE. FILM.
And the action! I’ve loved Lin‘s work ever since he revitalized one of my favourite franchises (Fast & Furious), so I was on-board for something as epic as Kirk ejecting himself out of the Enterprise to catch a Spock.
While such things don’t occur, the crew of the Enterprise definitely do a lot more fighting. And new alien Jaylah (Sofia Boutella from the excellent Kingsman: The Secret Service) provides more back-up to the kickassery that is Uhura (Zoe Saldana), who gets her own share of face kicking in the film.
And oh! If any of you are worried about that Beastie Boys ‘Sabotage’ moment? Actually explained through science. AND IT’S ACTUALLY FUN…(I have no idea how either).
For the first time from the modern reboots, I’ve walked away with 2 very specific feelings:
- This feels like the most Star Trekky film we’ve had so far; A wild space adventure with ridiculous new aliens and weapons and the crew of the Enterprise constantly heckling each other (Spock and Bones relationship going to a whole new level of hilariousness)
- It feels like someone who loves the franchise made this.
I have a friend who says it’s famously well known that Abrams isn’t a fan of Star Trek, which may have found itself translating into the films in more ways than one. But with Lin now sitting in the Captain’s chair, I feel like we’re back on-course.
If this is the new course set for the Star Trek universe, then you can beam me up Montgomery Scotty!