Friday, July 29, 2016

Star Trek: Beyond (2016) ***

Star Trek: Beyond, third film in the reboot series, does a great job of honoring the tradition of the long running series with engaging characters, idealistic themes, and exciting action.  The members of the new cast have grown comfortably into their roles, keeping the franchise vibrant and relevant.

The film opens with the U.S.S. Enterprise in the third year of its mission, with Kirk and his crew getting restless, even bored, in their travels through space.  Spock is considering leaving Starfleet to devote his life to rebuilding Vulcan culture.  Meanwhile, Kirk considers taking a desk job.  Desperate for a challenging mission, the crew answers a distress call coming from a distant part of the galaxy where they discover a dangerous threat to the Federation.

Idris Elba, in heavy makeup as the villain Krall, may not be the most memorable Star Trek antagonist of all time, but his compelling backstory warranted more screen time.

Gene Roddenberry's original concept imagined the United Federation of Planets as an alliance dedicated to exploration and promoting peace, envisioning a future where humanity had overcome its violent tendencies, although those tendencies never completely disappeared, a conflict that always defined Star Trek

The search for purpose and meaning adds a timely philosophical component to Star Trek: Beyond.  At the current moment, the United States is searching for purpose in an acrimonious election year, agonizing over two differing ideas of how the country should proceed into the future. 

In the film Kirk and crew, by sticking to their basic principles and staying dedicated to each other's well being, all learn something about themselves and what to do with their futures. 

Simon Pegg, who co-wrote the script, gave all the cast members substantial roles. Chris Pine's a natural as Kirk and Quinto's tragic version of Spock builds upon the work by Leonard Nimoy.  

Director Justin Lin, a newcomer to the series, did a great job of balancing character and story development.  Unlike the J.J. Abrams directed films Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013), there was less of a need to directly homage previous Star Trek.

With Star Trek celebrating its 50th Anniversary and a new TV show set to debut in January, Star Trek: Beyond is a worthy edition to one of the pillars of modern Science Fiction.

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