The 50th Anniversary of Star Trek would not have been the same without an addition to the Trek universe, and Star Trek Beyond is a solid performance. It’s not the best, it’s not the worst, but it does have a lot to recommend it. (And yes, spoilers follow. Stop now if you don’t wish to see any.)
Early in the movie, Kirk and Spock are shown having second thoughts of continuing the five-year mission (it’s year three). Kirk wonders if he can live up to his father’s reputation; Spock learns of Ambassdor Spock’s death and wonders if he should continue his work on New Vulcan. The Enterprise visits a city in space called Yorktown (a spectacular special effect) and is assigned to assist a ship captain who has asked for help to get her crew back. However, this turns out to be a trap: the Enterprise is destroyed and the crew is stranded on a planet. Scott quickly encounters an ally (Jaylah), Kirk and Chekov try to get to the crashed saucer section to get technological assistance, Spock and McCoy try to find the others, Sulu and Uhura and the remainder of the crew are detained by Krall, who has a grudge against the Federation. The rest of the film finds the crew resisting Krall and preventing him from destroying the space city and its millions of inhabitants. (This involves finding and restoring an old starship which had crashed on the planet over a century before. The seatbelts on the bridge were welcome and needed in the escape. They also, interestingly, found a strategic use for music radio.)
The film has interesting references to events that had happened in previous Treks (particularly original Trek and Enterprise)—though Simon Pegg (a co-writer) seems to have forgotten about the Vulcan healing trance. The special effects are outstanding (particularly the space city and the Enterprise traveling through space at warp speed, which is brief but breathtaking). All of the the regulars have significant roles in resolving the issue, which makes Anton Yelchin’s loss keenly felt (the credits have an acknowledgement of him). I thought his Chekov was extremely well portrayed, both in the 2009 film and in this one.
Most of all, I was happy to see that Roddenberry’s overall Trek philosophy of Starfleet (and the Federation) as a representation of peaceful exploration (and not of war) was emphasized, and the point was made that resilience and strength can be developed without conflict. At the end, each member of the crew takes a line of “Space, the final frontier…,” and Uhura’s (Zoe Saldana’s) recitation of “to boldly go where no one has gone before” moved me to tears (it was wonderful!).
Let’s hope that the next film (already scheduled) does at least as well.
P.S. Though I’m standing in front of an IMAX poster for Star Trek: Beyond, I saw it in 3D. (Not because I wanted to, but because 3D was the only choice at the time I wanted to see it.)
P.P.S. Before the movie, the theater showed a brief clip of Simon Pegg (Scotty) thanking the audience for coming to see the film in a movie theater (as opposed to waiting until it was available on cable, DVD, or NetFlix, I suppose).