The latest installment of the rebooted Star Trek franchise debuted just in time for the 50th anniversary year of exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new forms of life and new civilizations, and boldly going where no man has gone before. It was a thrill to experience on the big screen, but if you want to know more, you run the risk of spoilers.
To prove how serious I am, I got River Song to come and tell you all about the spoilers.
If River hasn’t convinced you to go away, nothing will, so I may as well commence.
It’s Year Three of the famous five-year mission, and Captain James Tiberius Kirk is wondering why he’s still here. He complains that his life is beginning to feel episodic (the franchise has become sentient! They’re going to figure out to break out of the Matrix!) and hopes that a temporary layover at the starbase Yorktowne will help break up the monotony. What he hasn’t told his crew is that he’s applied for a vice-admiral position and plans to leave Spock in command of the Enterprise. Naturally enough, all of this changes when they rescue a survivor of an alien exploratory mission who needs help rescuing the rest of her crew. The planet they’re stranded on lies in the middle of a dense nebula, and guess which ship has the best navigational equipment in the fleet?
So off they go to assist the aliens only to find that it was an ambush to lead them directly into the hands of the mad warlord Krall. The Enterprise is destroyed (The Search for Spock wants its plot device back), and the majority of the crew are Krall’s prisoners. It’s up to Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Chekov, Scotty, and their new friend Jaylah to set them free and stop Krall from destroying the entire Federation. But Spock is badly wounded, and their only vessel is the broken-down USS Franklin, an NX starship that went missing over a hundred years ago (and can hit a whopping warp 4 without exploding).
There are so many points I want to cover that I hardly know where to start. I think I’ll just start with Jaylah. I loved her character, and I loved how well she meshed with the rest of the crew. I know they won’t be recasting Chekov for the next movie, but I hope they’re able to bring Jaylah back; I would love to see her continue to grow as a character and have a chance to explore deep space.
I enjoyed the twist about Krall being Balthazar Edison, the Franklin‘s original captain. Most people hated Enterprise, but I loved it, and I’m always glad when they’re able to reference that show in some way. Granted, I haven’t watched enough to remember if the Franklin was ever mentioned, but the mere fact that we had Kirk and Co. on an NX-era bridge pleased me greatly. Also, I thought it was a good idea to follow the idea of the original 2009 film and create an original villain; Benedict Cumberbatch aside, one of the big flaws of Into Darkness was that they tried to recast one of the most iconic villains and remake one of the best storylines Star Trek ever had. But Idris Elba didn’t have to worry about being compared to any other actor in the role, which gave him a certain amount of flexibility.
The regular actors have really grown into their roles; Karl Urban and Simon Pegg have especially reached new heights in their respective roles of Dr. McCoy and Commander Scott. I think Karl Urban in particular is having a bit too much fun as McCoy, but it makes for a good performance.
Mini-rant time: I was so hoping we finally saw the end of the pointless Spock/Uhura romance, but they seem determined to keep dragging it out. Why? Why!? I beg you; end it in the next film already! Apart from being annoying, I feel it interferes with Zachary Quinto’s portrayal of Spock. His logic feels less…sharp, somehow, since he’s in a relationship, but he’s still a master of zingers.
Speaking of Spock, they handled Leonard Nimoy’s death in a very respectful way. It was still sad, but at the same time you felt that your grief was shared by every single person watching the movie, so that made it a little easier. They couldn’t do much about Anton Yelchin’s death because he died after filming was complete, but the simple “For Anton” at the end of the movie was a welcome touch. Any future movies will feel empty without him.
The first two movies were fun romps, but Beyond feels as if it the reboot has finally grown up. It had the most Trek-like feel of all of the modern movies, for which I credit Simon Pegg’s influence. Mr. Pegg, if by some chance you should stumble upon this humble little corner of the internet, you did good.
Final verdict: it was brilliant and a perfect way to celebrate the 50th anniversary. If you haven’t seen it yet, go do so.