Star Trek Beyond is a strong way to end the possible final frontier of the USS Enterprise. Making the “Kelvin” timeline trilogy the only part of the Star Trek franchise that was ever consistently good. After Into Darkness, I assumed the series would continue to follow the pattern of each installment by rebooting every plot thread. It made sense for The Wrath of Khan, but it really would’ve been derivative to recreate everything. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin were all on board to return, but J. J. Abrams chose Star Wars over Star Trek. Many directors were considered until they ended up with the unlikely choice of Fast & Furious franchise director Justin Lin.
I grew nervous when the first trailer showed nothing but action set to the Beastie Boys with Kirk performing motorcycle stunts while being energized. It looked more like Fast & Furious in space, but Beyond ended up being one of the most genuine Star Trek movies in a long time. Being a Trekkie herself, the movie was enough for my brother and I to convince our mother to see it with us. Simon Pegg worked on the script in order to ensure a return to the lighthearted exploration that the franchise was built on. Paramount was still nervous when they requested a Star Trek movie that wasn’t too nerdy. Beyond will definitely please Trekkies, but it was still a financial disappoint that audiences unfairly ignored…
Star Trek Beyond is notable for several reasons. Lack of J. J. Abrams meant an Enterprise bridge almost completely free of lens flares. Despite Lin breaking his Fast & Furious streak to direct a Star Trek film, his fresh direction ended up being exactly what the franchise needed. Though I’m not sure what his experience is with the original series. Beyond was sadly the first Star Trek voyage released after Leonard Nimoy’s passing. More tragic was Anton Yelchin dying only a month before the movie’s release at the young age of 27. Beyond is dedicated to both the old and the new actors who helped make Star Trek what it is today.
Captain’s Log, Stardate 99129.5: Beyond refers to the historic 5 year mission from the original series. Making this the first reboot not set anywhere near Earth. The crew of the Enterprise finally voyage to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life, and new civilizations. However, boldly going where no one has gone before is starting to get a little episodic for Captain James T. Kirk. Scotty even references the giant green hand from the episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” Their latest mission sees Kirk attempt to gift a relic to the hilariously diminutive Teenaxi race. When transported off the planet, Kirk enters a Captain’s log that brings the audience up to warp speed. Jim & Bones drink over his upcoming birthday and the captain reflects on becoming older than his father. He considers leaving Starfleet to become vice admiral. Kirk discusses the position while on shore leave in the enormous starbase Yorktown. Shohreh Aghdashloo plays the high ranking officer Commodore Paris.
Beyond is another Star Trek character study that brings added depth to its crew. Kirk avoids telling Spock that he wants to make him captain of the Enterprise, but his logical Vulcan friend has a secret of his own. He learns that Spock Prime has died and he also wants to leave the Enterprise to carry on his work. It’s a moral dilemma that leads Uhura to break up with Spock, but keep the necklace he gave her. Scotty spends most of his time working on the ship, Chekov can be seen flirting, and Sulu is revealed to have a daughter and husband. Gene Roddenberry always wanted gay characters in Star Trek, but George Takei himself wasn’t impressed by the decision. The Enterprise is of course called to an uncharted nebula where they rescue an alien named Kalara. She tells Kirk the story of her crew crashed landing on Altamid and that she’s the only one who escaped.
They’re suddenly attacked by the original villain Krall. He’s a lizard-like alien who leads a swarm of bee-like ships to attack the Enterprise. Krall plans to obtain the relic from earlier called the Abronath. The crew does their best in defending the Enterprise, but Kirk ultimately orders everyone to abandon ship. At this point I’ve lost count of how many times the Enterprise has been destroyed. The crew is separated with each of them ending up with someone who can ensure they’ll make it off the planet. Some of their uniforms have been slightly altered to include flight jackets. Uhura, Sulu, and other members of the crew are taken prisoner by Krall. Idris Elba is hidden under an impressive amount of Oscar nominated makeup that was somehow beaten by Suicide Squad. Elba had a lot of exposure in 2016, so he does well as the latest Star Trek antagonist.
Krall tells Uhura that he’s counting on Captain Kirk’s arrival, though I was a little confused about what his villainous plan was specifically. He wants the Abronath to develop a bioweapon and apparently drains a person’s lifeforce to stay alive. Kirk, Chekov, and Kalara are together when they search the Enterprise wreckage for the Abronath. They quickly realize Kalara is a spy and Kirk somehow manages to ignite the engine of the Enterprise in order to kill Krall’s men and Kalara with them. Spock & Dr. McCoy are the most meaningful pairing due to their tumultuous history. When Spock is injured, McCoy operates on his green blooded frenemy in the most humorous way possible. They discuss logic and emotion when Spock mentions leaving, and you know he’s delirious when he ends up laughing.
Scotty is alone, but he’s quickly joined by the best addition to the sequel. Since Dr. Carol Marcus was left out, supermodel Sofia Boutella steps in as witty scavenger Jaylah. Boutella was already making a name for herself, and playing the all white alien was her best call. Jaylah survives using reflector technology, learned English from her home in the USS Franklin, and resents Kroll’s second-in-command Manas for killing her father. Scotty manages to find Kirk & Chekov in one of Jaylah’s traps and uses the Franklin to energize Spock & Bones. Although Krall manages to retrieve the Abronath hidden with a crewmember, Uhura is located when Spock uses her necklace as a tracking device. Kirk riding an antique motorcycle is used to distract Krall’s men and free the crew. Jaylah gets her revenge and is transported at the last minute.
Krall manages to escape as he plans to use the bioweapon to kill the inhabitants of Yorktown. The Enterprise crew manage to get the Franklin off the ground with Sulu piloting it to safety. SPOILER ALERT! Uhura discovers Krall is surprisingly long lost USS Franklin Captain Balthazar Edison. He prefered war over peace and grew to resent the Federation when they failed to locate his crew on Altamid. His alien appearance was the result of exposure to technology left on the planet. Scotty realizes the best way to disable Krall’s swarm of ships is with music. “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys was heard in Star Trek (2009), but now the archaic song is used in a creative climax leading the ship to Yorktown. Scotty somehow manages to transport Spock & McCoy onto one of the ships while Kirk gives chase to the mostly human Krall. They end up in the ventilation system in danger of being sucked into space. Krall is consumed by his own bioweapon and Kirk is saved at the last minute by Spock.
The ending is bittersweet with Spock deciding to stay after seeing a photo of Spock Prime with his crew from The Wrath of Khan. Kirk stays as well when he celebrates his birthday with his loyal crew. Jaylah is also enlisted into Starfleet as they look upon the reconstruction of the USS Enterprise. Having Kirk, Spock, Scotty, McCoy, Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura speak the famous monologue is the perfect way to end the trilogy. Despite talk of a 4th film with Chris Hemsworth or one directed by the hyper-violent Quentin Tarantino, Star Trek hasn’t had any theatrical follow ups in over 5 years. The only thing keeping Trekkies busy are all the hit or miss shows made for streaming. If you want the classic feel of the landmark science fiction franchise, then Star Trek Beyond truly is the final frontier of the series. “Live long and prosper.”
Preceded by: Star Trek Into Darkness