The 2009 Star Trek film revived the moribund franchise. It filled the Star Trek shaped void in the universe, but alienated some fans by trying to fill the Star Wars void as as well. The sequel, Into Darkness, was a cover version of Wrath of Khan, which angered many, but not myself. Star Trek Beyond has critical praise, but has been greeted with a round of indifference at the box office thus far.
2016 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the television debut of Star Trek. “Television” being the key word. Series creator Gene Roddenberry crafted a science fiction program that combined parable, allegory, and morality play, then set the events in the far flung future. As with any TV show, there are a number of filler episodes which often contain character development. It’s these types of stories that often become fan favorites. In a film franchise where three or more years can pass between entries, the studio can ill afford to allow the characters to step back and take a breather. That is why there are more and bigger space battles in the recent Star Trek movies, and far less of the ponderous ruminations.
That being said, Star Trek Beyond sees Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) having a bit of a one-third-life crisis. He and the crew of the Enterprise are in the middle of a five year mission, and he wants to relinquish command in favor of a desk job. But first, he must respond to a distress call that’s coming from an uncharted nebula. And everything goes as wrong as it possibly can.
Simon Pegg, who plays Montgomery Scott, co-wrote the script with Doug Jung. When you are both an actor and writer in a Star Trek movie, you’d be crazy not to write scenes where your character has frequent interactions with a hot alien. In this case, the alien is Jaylah, and she is portrayed by Sofia Boutella. Normally, Captain Kirk would try to have sex with the alien, but he’s a bit busy trying to rescue his crew and get them off the god forsaken planet they’re stranded on.
Idris Elba plays the bad guy, whose motivations aren’t all that different from many other Star Trek villains over the decades. Like Star Wars, the actions of the antagonist in any version of Star Trek make sense, but sometimes you have to think about it from their point of view.
Some reviewers have proclaimed that Star Trek Beyond is the best of the recent films, and in the top four or five of all time. Before I saw the movie, I thought some of the praise must be hyperbole. I love the 2009 movie, and have watched it numerous times. I never fail to laugh at the scene where McCoy (Karl Urban) has a crazy plan to get Kirk on board the Enterprise. And I wish people would stop comparing Into Darkness to Wrath of Khan, because it’s a no win scenario. I still say that Into Darkness stands on its own.
However, Star Trek Beyond is the best of the three. Justin Lin was the correct choice to take over the helm from J.J. Abrams. The first two entries were a sort of origin story/prequel, while Beyond feels like one of the better episodes of the original series.