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Star Trek Beyond – A Review

I was very lucky yesterday to get to see an opening/advanced screening of Star Trek Beyond (does it have a colon? It should probably have a colon). Although among those I viewed it with, mine was the minority opinion, I really liked this one. I’d hazard to say it was the best of the three new Trek movies.

This is coming from someone who found Star Trek through pre-dinner/after school reruns of the original series. I’ve been a fan of Star Trek for as long as I can remember. I saw ST:the Motion Picture in the theatre and – this may taint your opinion of me – I loved it. ST: the Wrath of Khan, of course, blew it away. Still, ST:TMP had so many aspects of ST:TOS while providing characters who had grown since the end of their five year mission that I remain a fan.

I had low expectations going in to STB. While I enjoyed 2009’s Star Trek, I was disappointed with Star Trek Into Darkness. I expected STB to focus on action – especially given the director, Justin Lin, known for his work on the Fast and the Furious franchise – and I expected that focus to be to the detriment of the character.

My expectations were – thankfully – dashed.

I am very aware that among the people with whom I saw the movie, I had the minority opinion, but I believe this is the best of the reboot movies. The first act of the movie set the same tone as ST:TWOK, and, for that matter, some of ST:TMP. Kirk and Spock are at turning points in their lives, questioning their choices and their purpose. McCoy is there as a sounding board and support. Finally the deniable friendship between McCoy and Spock is explored while McCoy’s role as Kirk’s friend is cemented. Karl Urban as Leonard McCoy is my favourite part of the reboot and I am so happy he was given plenty of chances to shine.

Justin Lin proved as adept with the close and personal scenes as he did with the action. And, don’t worry, there’s plenty of action. For me, though, the groundwork done with the characters – and not just the big three – paid off when that action happened, because I was much more invested with these characters than I had been in the previous two movies.

Here’s where I am again going to complain about 3D. Maybe it’s just me – I do have an eyeglass prescription, so my vision isn’t the best – but the action is always blurred and muddled in 3D. It’s very noticeable in parts of this movie. I would love to have the chance – which I won’t until Netflix! – to see the movie without the 3D. I don’t think it added anything for me and ruined some of the action scenes.

In the end, I have to give this movie a big recommendation – at least for those who loved ST:TOS, ST:TMP, and/or ST:TWOK. There are issues with this movie, yes, but they are issues shared with the previous two of this iteration. Unlike those others, though, this movie delivers strong characterization, and stakes that aren’t just external. This is as much about Kirk’s future as it is about his survival and that of the Federation.

That made it much more satisfying for me.

I give Star Trek Beyond 4.5 yelly, shouty classical tunes out of 5. This has all the action of its two predecessors while also delivering on the characterization and drama that made the best of the TOS movies so good.

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