Editor’s Notes: Star Trek Beyond is out on in its respective home video format November 1st.
Star Trek Beyond (Paramount), the third installment in the rebooted franchise that began with 2009’s simply titled Star Trek, finds the Enterprise once again setting out to an uncharted galaxy with its crew headed by Captain Kirk (Chris Pine). Among the crew are Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Bones (Kark Urban), Sulu (John Cho), Scottie (Simon Pegg), and Chekov (the late Anton Yelchin).
Their mission this time around is to help an alien named Kalara (Lydia Wilson) rescue her besieged, shipwrecked crew. With sleek movements, a warrior’s sensibility, and a ghost-white face with cool black markings, Kalara proves to be a valuable ally when a swarm of small vessels assaults the Enterprise on all sides, overwhelming the ship’s defenses. In an impressive display of computer special effects, the attack literally tears the Enterprise to shreds.
The crew manages to eject in small pod ships, only to land on a hostile planet, separated and vulnerable to aliens who want to kill them. These aliens are headed by Krall (Idris Elba), a cold, nightmarish creature who will eventually determine the fate of Kirk and his crew.
In style, Star Trek Beyond is very much like a better episode of the original TV series embellished with costly effects that 1960s TV could never imagine, let alone afford. Rather than take itself too seriously, the film makes a point of incorporating the sorts of moments that were a trademark of the series: the friendly repartee between Spock and Bones, Spock being conflicted by his Vulcan-human heritage, the bridge scenes when orders are given and repeated as the ship gears for battle, and Kirk’s thirst for adventure, damn the consequences.
The actors have their characters down pat, so the tweaks made in the first reboot are by now familiar. Director Justin Lin (Fast and Furious) provides end-to-end action, with only a few moments here and there to let us catch our breath and no time wasted with unnecessary padding. The constant forward drive keeps the action at fever pitch, with good moments for each of the major crew members.
The film plays equally well to loyal Trekkers and average moviegoers. Trekkers will love the attention to detail, the retro uniforms, and the easy camaraderie among crew. General audiences will be able to enjoy and follow the plot without knowing the entire Star Trek canon. It’s intended as a stand-alone picture and works just fine in that capacity.
It’s always helpful when a talented actor essays the role of a villain. Idris Elba’s Krall joins the legion of memorable Star Trek bad guys. The role is well written (by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, with a nod to Gene Roddenberry, the show’s creator). Elba adds gravitas to Krall and makes him a formidable threat. Late in the film, we learn Krall’s back story, which clarifies his beef with the Federation, Kirk, and his crew.
We’ve come to expect amazing special effects in movies, especially in big-budget sci-fi extravaganzas. And Star Trek Beyond definitely delivers. The film looks simply incredible in IMAX 3D, with lots of shots in which a moving camera observes an object from ever-changing perspectives to provide a dynamic view of a space battle, a futuristic city, or even a stationary object. The roving camera maximizes the cinematic potential of the film, but the effects never overshadow character interaction.
Rated PG-13, Star Trek Beyond continues the franchise’s intellectual, optimistic point of view, combining outer-space shoot-‘em-ups, contemplations on tolerance and mortality, and touches of gentle humor that humanize the characters.
Bonus extras on the 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include deleted scenes; gag reel; profile of producer J.J. Abrams and director Justin Lin; and 8 making-of, behind-the-scenes featurettes. A digital HD copy is included. There is also a 3-disc edition containing the film in 3D as well as all the above features.