‘Star Trek: Beyond’ Review

Directed by Justin Lin

Written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, and Sofia Boutella

★★★

The release of “Star Trek: Beyond” marks the 50th anniversary of the “Star Trek” franchise. Well, the anniversary is on Sep. 8 – the broadcast of the first episode of “Star Trek” – which this year falls on Friday – a missed marketing opportunity if you ask me. One that would have been a marketing gold mine at that, but then again a movie like this needs that prime summer release date. Nonetheless, 2016 still marks the 50th year of “Star Trek.”

“Star Trek: Beyond” is the third film in the new iteration of the “Star Trek” that started in 2009, though this is the first not to see J.J. Abrams at the helm – as he was busy with directing duties on that other star franchise – instead, we get Justin Lin. You know the director responsible for both the best and worst movies in “The Fast and the Furious” franchise, “Fast Five” and “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” respectively. While Lin’s approach to directing is more “The Fast and the Furious” than the directing usually seen in “Star Trek,” Lin manages to deliver one of the most “Star Trek” “Star Trek” movies made to date. Hopefully, that makes sense, if it does not, all it means is that “Star Trek: Beyond” could have easily been an episode of the original “Star Trek” series.

While Lin directs with a style that is familiar to those who know his work, the reason that Lin can keep in line with what makes “Star Trek” “Star Trek” is because of the script Doug Jung and Simon Pegg wrote. The movie that Pegg and Jung wrote not only felt like classic “Star Trek” but it was the funniest and most fun “Star Trek” since they saved the whales in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.” “Star Trek: Beyond” is a movie that is full humor though like the other films of the new iteration this movie lacks the overarching philosophy and allegory that are featured in the best episodes of the series and the strongest of movies that the series produced. While that element is not essential to making good “Star Trek,” it certainly does not hurt it either.

Like the other films in this current iteration of “Star Trek” one of the strengths of “Star Trek: Beyond” is in the casting. This movie sees the return of the regulars; Chris Pine is once again doing a great job filling the shoes of William Shatner as Captain Kirk, and Zachary Quinto keeps bringing a surprising amount of nuance to his portrayal of Spock. “Star Trek: Beyond” also adds fantastic new additions to the cast, Idris Elba, and Sofia Boutella. Elba gives a riveting performance as the film’s antagonist, even if the character is a weak villain. Let’s face it, “Star Trek” is never going to have a villain as strong as Ricardo Montalban’s Khan. Boutella yet again kicks major ass and proves that she is an action heroine on the rise. For those unfamiliar with Boutella, by yet again I am referring to her performance last year in “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”

While “Star Trek: Beyond” is not as strong a film as 2009’s “Star Trek” it is better than its immediate predecessor “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” If only because the second half of “Star Trek: Into Darkness” becomes a remake of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” “Star Trek: Beyond” is classic “Star Trek” and you get great Spock/Bones stuff that more than make “Star Trek: Beyond” a worthwhile watch.

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