Monday, August 1, 2016

Star Trek Beyond Review

Star Trek Beyond Review
Before we get too far in this review, let me just say that I have been a huge fan of the new "Star Trek" movies so far. There was a special feeling seeing the start point for this new franchise back in 2009. I had the old crew in my head growing up, but was more than happy to put these new actors on those beloved characters. I walked out of the theater in 2009 drunk in love with this new vision and I found it clever how they managed to get away with telling new stories with these beloved characters. While I did like "Star Trek Into Darkness," which came out a few years ago, its a tough one revisit. The handling of the most popular villain in Star Trek lore was lazy now in hindsight and I think the marketing for the film went WAY out of its way to not advertise that all we were getting was a "Wrath of Kahn" remake.

This leads us to "Star Trek Beyond," which is a new high point for the franchise. This feels like vintage Star Trek. Its fit with a Captain's Log right at the beginning of the film, and also fit with an adventure I feel you'd only find in the old television show. But this isn't nostalgia for nostalgia's sake. "Star Trek Beyond" also tells a new age yet solid story of how being in the same spot can wane on you personally and professionally. Its a movie about expectations versus want and desire and how those feelings on both sides can get us into trouble. Its also a movie about what we expect from one another when working on a team and how those expectations can drive us mad.

"Star Trek Beyond" continues on the journey of the Starship Enterprise, still run by Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine). Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin). As they move closer through the universe, they are abruptly attacked by a wave of crude spaceships, led by Krull (Idris Elba). Krull is after a weapon that the Enterprise has in their records. Krull takes the Enterprise down and captures most of the ship's crew. The ship crashes on Krull's home planet and our heroes are scattered. Kirk plans to reunite with his group, save his crew and recapture the weapon Krull stole. Meanwhile on Krull's planet, Scotty meets Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) who is also a prisoner of Krull and assist the crew of the Enterprise in stopping Krull.

What the first two movies in this new franchise did so well was create the friendship between Kirk and Spock. But if you are a fan of the old television show, there was a great three-way friendship between Bones, Kirk and Spock. That three-way bond is finally completely intact. Kirk has great scenes with Bones, Kirk has great scenes with Spock. There is a massive stretch of film that is just Bones and Spock and its oddly epic. There is also, of course, wonderful scenes cementing this trio's friendly bond. Something I feel was sorely missing from these movies up to this point. Scotty finally comes out as a full fledged presents here. Which comes as no surprise since Simon Pegg himself wrote parts of the script. He's given himself a lot to do here, and he clearly loves it all.

These actors have become these characters at this point and everyone does very good work. I like that this story challenges our heroes in a different way. This isn't a movie that is simply treading water to make some big summer bucks. This feels like natural character progression. Idris Elba steps into the villain light once again, and he delivers a memorable performance. Krull isn't who we think he is, kind of like Benedict Cumberbatch's character last time. But this time, Krull's reversal pays off in a big way. He's not a bad guy doing something bad for the movie's sake. He is reacting to a harrowing, natural response and it makes him even more interesting. Sofia Boutella's Jaylah will easily become a fan favorite, bar none. I only hope that she becomes a character we see turn up in these movies from now on.

"Star Trek Beyond" leaves behind the gritty realism of "Into Darkness" and becomes the swashbuckling, adventurous Star Trek we know and love. There is wonderful special effects etched throughout the entire movie. Its funny, it's action-packed and its filled with classic moments. I think people will be blown away by how much this feels like classic Star Trek. Which is a homerun all around.


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