It’s been a pretty lackluster summer at the movies so far, and I didn’t have much hope of the U.S.S. Enterprise coming to the rescue. I’m not a big Trekkie. My favorite movie is the one with the whales.
And yet, surprisingly, “Star Trek Beyond” delivers a solid, satisfying, summer flick. It’s amazing to look at, thrilling to experience and delivers almost non-stop action while still making time for the character moments that are so essential to this long-running franchise.
It’s Year Three of the five-year mission and the natives are restless. It seems exploring the vastness of space can wear one down after a few years. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is considering a promotion and a desk job while Spock (Zachary Quinto) is thinking about moving to New Vulcan to help repopulate the species. They haven’t told each other what they’re doing.
A well-deserved rest stop at Starbase Yorktown is cut short when an escape pod arrives from out of a nearby nebula. In the pod is Kalara (Lydia Wilson), who claims her damaged ship lies just beyond the nebula. The Enterprise is sent on the rescue mission, carefully navigating through the asteroid-field, err, nebula.
Once on the other side, they are attacked by Krall (Idris Elba), the villain of the piece, and his army of small ships. They devour the Enterprise like locusts and the famed starship goes crashing into a nearby planet as all the crew escape in life pods.
You know what that means: Everyone gets separated into small groups — Kirk and Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Spock and McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) — and now have to find a way to come together and get back to Yorktown before Krall destroys it.
Their only ally on this strange, new world is Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), a scavenger who comes to the aid of Scotty (Simon Pegg) when he first crash lands. Jaylah turns out to be a very helpful partner, having everything they could need for an escape — including an old, derelict Federation starship.
There are plotholes a plenty and you really shouldn’t think too hard about anything going on here, but what “Star Trek Beyond” lacks in logic it makes up for in exciting action, imaginative imagery and fun, familiar characters. Krall doesn’t bring much of interest to the Star Trek universe but Jaylah is a welcome addition.
Director Justin Lin captures the right balance of action, humor, spectacle and drama. Now into their third movie, the rebooted cast has settled nicely into their roles.
I don’t normally advocate spending the extra dough on 3D or IMAX but this is a film that really benefits from being seen on as big a screen as possible. The designs for Yorktown are particularly impressive.