The next episode of the rebooted Star Trek franchise, now named the Kelvin universe, has arrived and it is fantastic. I say episode because Star Trek Beyond has found a way to capture the essence of the television series while still packing the run time full of great blockbuster action. More importantly, this film packs several different points of view allowing viewers to experience the full array of characters rather than making another Kirk and Spock movie.
Talking about the nature of the film being like an episode of the series, what the series had always done best was tell stories that made a specific character, or group of characters, grow. In every encounter from space anomaly to a villain hell bent on galactic destruction, the focus of the episode would revolve around the character. That is exactly what this movie attempts to accomplish by splitting up the main characters into unconventional groups. Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) are trapped with the villain, Kirk (Chris Pine) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) are attempting to find the crew and get them off of the planet they are stranded on, and McCoy (Karl Urban) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) are just trying to survive after crashing on this unknown world. Each of these character pairings create unique dialogue and bonds that were unexplored in the previous movies which tended to focus on the two main characters and their evolving friendship.
Director Justin Lin brought a very unique perspective to this universe with intense action sequences and a story that was completely developed. The problem that we have seen with the previous two films in this series is the movies tend to try to serve a particular sense of nostalgia for current fans and eschew complex stories. While the story in Beyond was far from the cerebral fair that the series and previous universe films delve into, you felt in this movie that the villain, Krall (Idris Elba), had clear intentions and an understood motive. More-so than that, there was a real struggle between the heroes and the villain that was not overly complex or misguided, Krall offered a real threat to both the heroes and the general population and had to be stopped but there was a sense that he was a very complex and damaged character that you almost hope is redeemed.
Overall I thought Star Trek Beyond was terrific fun and a worth while addition to the film series. I think old and new fans will have something to love in this movie and the chemistry and talent in this cast raises the production to a whole new level. I’ve been seeing a lot of lists where people rank their Star Trek movies and, while I don’t think I’m ready to do that in this article, Star Trek Beyond will definitely be near the top of my list.