Star Trek Beyond is a 2016 American science-fiction action-adventure film directed by Justin Lin and written by Simon Pegg and Doug Yung. It is a part of the long-running Star Trek franchise created by Gene Roddenberry in 1966. It is the thirteenth overall feature film in the franchise and the third film in the reboot series created in 2009. The film features returning cast members Chris Pine, Karl Urban, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, Zoe Saldana, Pegg, and the late Anton Yelchin, as well as franchise newcomers Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella.
Star Trek Beyond is the third film set in the JJ Abrams-designed Kelvin Timeline following 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. The previous two entries in the franchise are mostly well-liked by the general audience, but they do have several major issues that limit their potential and the reboot series, as a whole, is extremely divisive among Trekkies. The chief complaint concerning the reboot series is that the Star Trek stories have always been a team effort and they put equal focus on each individual member of the crew. Though ultimately enjoyable, the previous two entries do an extremely poor job of this, focusing almost exclusively on the characters of James T. Kirk and Spock, leaving everyone else disappointingly generic and not fleshed out in the slightest. Indeed, the main problem with the previous two efforts were the script; another problem with 2009 and Into Darkness was, due to the fact that the original timeline still exists, both films shoved the “we’re a mirror universe, not the original, so we’re going to be needlessly different” thing down your throat, which was annoying and led to some really, really stupid and confusing plot choices, in my opinion. Also annoying was JJ Abrams’ directing and overuse of lens flares and other extremely distracting visual effects.
The film concerns the crew of the Enterprise, three years into their infamous five-year mission seeking out new life. After a disastrous attempt to negotiate peace between two warring alien species, the Enterprise, after a disappointingly brief period of R&R at the Yorktown space station, is forced to respond to a distress signal in uncharted territory with no way to contact Starfleet. The Enterprise is ambushed, attacked, boarded, and destroyed. The surviving crew must figure out a way off of a hostile planet they were forced to crash land in.
This time around, the script by Simon Pegg is great. Pegg, well-known for being a massive Trekkie and nerd in general, knows exactly what he’s doing. There is equal focus on all of the Enterprise crew and the dialogue is genuinely heartwarming and funny, in contrast to the previous two films, which contained a lot of forced humor. In Beyond, for the first time in three films, you genuinely begin to care about each and every character. This film is Star Trek done right. The directing by Justin Lin is very polished and well-done, with Lin taking the best things about JJ Abrams’ style and removing the worst parts. The acting is quite admirable, the plot is very solid and easy to follow, whereas I felt the previous two had a tendency to be needlessly complicated; this film barely touches upon the mirror universe concept, undoubtedly due to the death of Leonard Nimoy, who appeared in the first film as an integral character and in Into Darkness as a somewhat brief cameo to again say “mirror universe stuff… BLAH!!!”
I must admit, I am by no means a massive fan of the series, and Beyond is not groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination. It is, however, an extremely solid film made so from a script by a fan of the series who just happens to be an amazing comedic actor. I was very impressed by Beyond in comparison to the previous two entries, and would really recommend this to anyone in the general audience looking for a good time.