Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond

Tonight I had the pleasure of watching the newest release in the long running Star Trek franchise. My sister Linda, my grandson Dayan and I settled into our theater seats, ready for an adventure in the far reaches of space. The opening scene began, and in the musical score, a few familar notes rang out. The Star Trek theme song instantly transported me into another time and place. 

Star Trek Beyond stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saladana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella. This sci-fi/adventure was directed by Justin Lin and has a run time of 2 hours and 2 minutes. It is rated PG-13, for intense action and violence. 

The crew of the starship Enterprise, captained by James T Kirk (Pine), is at the edge of known space, three years into their five year mission. Scotty (Pegg) has settled into the bustling engine room. Lt. Uhura (Saladana) and Commander Spock (Quinto) are having relationship issues. Young Chekov (Yelchin) and Sulu (Cho) use their brilliance to navigate the massive starship, while sharp witted and sharp tongued Dr. McCoy (Urban) oversees the health and well being of the entire crew. 

The ship docks at the deep space station, Yorktown, to take on supplies and allow the crew much needed R&R. It’s a few days before Kirk’s birthday, and he feels restless, lost, unsure of his purpose. He is considering a career change, as is his first officer. While in Yorktown, Spock learns that his older self, Ambassador Spock, has passed away. With the planet Vulcan destroyed, young Spock feels an obligation to take his counterpart’s place on New Vulcan, to further the development of his people. 

In the midst of these shifts, an emergency arises, an urgent need best met by the experienced captain and crew of the Enterprise. This adventure will propel Kirk, Spock, Bones and the crew into uncharted space within a nearby nebula. There they will encounter a new ally, Jaylah (Boutella), and a dangerous new enemy, Krall (Elba). Will unity among the command staff and crew become their greatest strength? Or their biggest weakness? 

This was a great movie, especislly for a Trekkie like me. ST Beyond hit all the right notes, creating an action packed, high energy film that fully honors the Star Trek universe, while continuing to develop the characters in this alternate timeline. The actors did a superb job of capturing the well known mannerisms, expressions and voices of their counterparts. Watching them, I could believe they were my Spock, Bones, Kirk, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu and Chekov. 

Although the action scenes are intense, without being graphic, there is an abundance of humor sprinkled strategically throughout the movie. Especially welcome was the familar verbal sparring between Bones and Spock. I also relished the deep friendship and loyalty between the three primary chatacters. That relationship has always drawn me to Star Trek. 

Chris Pine has really matured into the role of Captain Kirk. Kirk’s approaching birthday reminded him poignantly that he was about to become older than his father, who died in space when he was an infant. Wandering in deep space, with no tangible goal to reach beyond the five year mission, left his soul adrift and questions in his mind. The movie was as much about Kirk’s journey and his personal battles, as it was about the crew of Enterprise. 

There was sadness for me tonight, watching this third film in the reboot. Leonard Nimoy’s death last year created a need to say good bye to Ambassador Spock. The photos of his character brought tears to my eyes. He felt like my long time friend as well. And I was very aware of the brevity of life as I watched Chevov’s scenes. Anton Yelchin, who portrayed the young Russian crewman so passionately, died in a freak accident last month. He was 27 years old. My old beliefs want to wail over a life ended too soon, and close me down with fear over the seemingly random cruelty of life. My new beliefs allow me to feel gratitude that Anton discovered his gifts at such an early age, and that he shared them so beautifully with the world. 

I loved Star Trek Beyond. It was wonderful to revisit this universe. I’ll be watching this film again…soon.