“Our captain will come for us. Mercy will be the last thing on his mind,” says Nyota Uhura. Krall responds, “I’m counting on it.”
J.J. Abrams successfully rebooted the Star Trek franchise without discounting everything that had come before (via alternate timeline) back in 2009 with Star Trek. Abrams returned to the director’s chair for its terrorism-themed follow-up, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness (which was also successful). With Abrams off directing 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Paramount wanting a new Star Trek film released in 2016 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, he remained with the franchise as a producer and Justin Lin (director of four Fast and the Furious films) was brought on to helm the new Star Trek film. When the first teaser trailer was released, it didn’t exactly win people over (it emphasized just action). The next two trailers, however, were much better and I was even more pumped to see the film. I recently saw Lin’s Star Trek Beyond on the big screen in IMAX 3D as part of a Star Trek marathon that also included the previous two films, and it was just awesome!
2016’s Star Trek Beyond follows Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise three years into their five-year mission as they encounter a mysterious, hostile force in uncharted space that puts them and the ideals of the United Federation of Planets to the ultimate test. Lin assembled a fine cast that includes returning cast members Chris Pine (as Captain James T. Kirk), Zachary Quinto (as Spock), Karl Urban (as Dr. Leonard McCoy), John Cho (as Hikaru Sulu), Zoe Saldana (as Nyota Uhura), Simon Pegg (as Montgomery Scott), Anton Yelchin (as Pavel Chekov), and Deep Roy (as Keenser), along with new cast members Idris Elba (as Krall), Sofia Boutella (as Jaylah), Shohreh Agdashloo (as Commodore Paris), Greg Grunberg (as Commander Finnegan), Danny Pudi (as Fi’Ja), Joe Taslim (as Manas), Lydia Wilson (as Kalara), and Melissa Roxburgh (as Ensign Syl). The core cast excels in their iconic roles once again, especially Pine, Quinto, and Urban (the main seven do get their moments to shine). Elba is menacing and mysterious as the villainous Krall, and Boutella gives the film one of its best emotional anchors.
The screenplay by Pegg and Doug Jung honors the roots of the original series with a story that harkens back to the best of the original series episodes. It works original series star Leonard Nimoy’s death into the younger Spock’s character arc (gracefully, of course), explores Kirk’s desire to find his own identity after trying to live up to the memory of his father, and creates a new villain who becomes more complex (with a surprising background) as the story unfolds. Stephen F. Windon’s cinematography is dazzling, and Thomas E. Sanders’ production design is impressive (the space station Yorktown alone is worth the price of admission). The costume designs by Sanja Milkovic Hays (who previously designed costumes for 1998’s Star Trek: Insurrection) are incredible, ranging from the updated Starfleet uniforms to the outfits for the various alien species represented in the film.
The makeup design by Joel Harlow (an Oscar winner for 2009’s Star Trek) creates a variety of different alien species (the designs for Krall and Jaylah are my favorites), and the special effects are just amazing. Michael Giacchino delivers another adventurous Star Trek score that utilizes his previous motifs while creating some new ones (especially a grand, majestic, utopian-sounding one for the Yorktown). Lin’s Star Trek Beyond is another successful entry in the reboot series of Star Trek films that delivers the thrills, holds a few surprises, further explores its main characters (as well as new worlds), and is a fitting entry to honor Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary as well as the passing of original series star Nimoy and the more recent passing of Yelchin (even I got choked up during the appearance of an Ambassador Spock-related photo, whose full description I will not spoil, shown late in the film). Happy 50th anniversary, Star Trek, and live long and prosper!