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Star Trek Beyond

Less than ten years ago, it looked as if movie audiences had seen the last of the STAR TREK crew.  Interest was waning, and the box-office numbers couldn’t justify any further entries in the cinematic series. NP-2 In 2009, however, director J.J. Abrams rolled the dice and stepped behind the camera to bring the original crew’s characters back to life.  STAR TREK was a thrilling sci-fi adventure that not only re-energized the franchise, but successfully catapulted it to staggering new heights.

The follow-up feature, STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS was another hit, and while some die-hard fans weren’t blown away in the same way that they were in the previous venture, it was still an entertaining excursion into deep space.

With his decision to stand at the helm of STAR TREK: THE FORCE AWAKENS, Abrams passed the STAR TREK baton on to Justin Lin.  While still serving as producer, Abrams gave up a large portion of the creative control on the project.  Lin, who is best known for FAST & FURIOUS and FAST & FURIOUS 6, had already proven that he has a talent for delivering high-flying action, but the question remained as to whether or not he would be able to make the transition into outer space.

Truth be told, I’m a STAR TREK fan. I’m certainly not at the Trekkie or Trekker level, and I don’t have a federation uniform hanging in my closest.  I do, however, have an appreciation and affinity for the franchise, and love to see it succeed.

STAR TREK: BEYOND is a summer blockbuster that is a rollicking good time from the very opening scene.  Immediately fusing action and laughs, it is an eye-popping adventure that stays true to the formula that has worked for decades.  There is a core group of familiar faces (Captain Kirk-Chris Pine, Spock-Zachary Quinto, Bones-Karl Urban, Scotty-Simon Pegg, Sulu-John Cho, Lt. Uhura-Zoe Saldana, and Chekov-Anton Yelchin) who, at this point, work with impeccable cohesion.  Each one continues to settle a little deeper within the character, and as a result, comprise a crew that can confidently stand beside the revered rosters of STAR TREK and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.  This holds particularly true of Pine, Quinto, Pegg, Urban, and the late Yelchin, who pay homage to their predecessors while injecting their own personal spin.

NP-5 When the crew of the Starship Enterprise arrive at the new Yorktown space station, they are looking forward to some much-needed rest and relaxation.  Very shortly after their arrival, however, they learn from a stranger, Kalara, that an entire crew has been stranded in deep space.  The Enterprise is the strongest and most advanced ship that the Federation has at their disposal, so Captain Kirk doesn’t give it a second thought.  Though they will have to travel through fierce and uncharted space, they cannot leave an innocent crew stranded alone to die.

Shortly after the crew navigates through an asteroid belt, they are attacked by a force that is unlike any that they have ever seen.  Like a swarm of bees, the spacecrafts assault the Enterprise, and their alien inhabitants breach the hull.  Kirk and crew valiantly fight back, but are no match for the vicious invaders.  Their leader, the ruthless Krall (Idris Elba) is on the hunt for an artifact that he knows is hidden somewhere within the bowels of the ship.  Despite the crew’s best efforts, the legendary vessel is torn to shreds, and many of them end up on the mysterious planet below.

Strewn about and separated, the crew must not only find their way
back to one another, but find a way to take down Krall and stop him from completing the nefarious mission he has set upon. 

Lin has a deft eye for action, and while there were plenty of impressive fireworks in the FAST & FURIOUS films, his talent is on full display in STAR TREK: BEYOND.  I saw the film in the IMAX 3D format, and the visuals were absolutely thrilling.  The initial attack upon the Enterprise is both horrifying and exhilarating, with the swarm flying off the screen in dizzying detail.  Delivering a satisfying blend of story and action, it kept a brisk pace and never left the audience wanting more.  NP-1The script, co-written by Pegg and Doug Jung delivers a number of laughs, most of which are supplied by squabbling pals Bones and Spock.  These moments will seem more relevant and humorous to those familiar with characters and performers from the original series, yet at the same time, will likely still garner plenty of chuckles from those who are in the dark.  There is little doubt that those who hold STAR TREK in any form of reverence are much more likely to enjoy the lark more than those who possess the take-it-or-leave-it attitude.  It may not possess the same type of crossover appeal that STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS did, but at the same time, its target audience will absolutely love it.

The cohesive dynamic that exists amongst the cast, paired with big-budget visuals, results in another successful venture for the Starship Enterprise.  It proves that there are still plenty of tales to tell and if the first three films are any indication, there is hope that the franchise will continue to grow and thrive.

A special thanks goes to Regal Cinemas at Destiny USA for allowing me to attend this month’s film in IMAX 3D.

Brian Miller