In 2009 JJ Abram relaunched the Star Trek franchise back to the big screen. Taking the familiar characters of Kirk, Spock and the rest of the original crew of the NCC-1701 USS Enterprise, Abram remade the Star Trek universe into something similar but different than that of the original series.
Star Trek Beyond is set three years into the starship Enterprise’s tour of duty, as the crew is ambushed by an alien armada and stranded on a strange world. Scattered and hunted, they struggle to survive, while trying to learn why the alien warlord Krall (Idris Elba) attacked their ship in the first place.
Beyond is the first of the new series not to be directed by JJ Abrams, and sees a slight shift in tone. Lin quickly makes the film his own, bringing much of the action to the forefront without the lyrical style of Abram’s. This is a film that hits warp 10 fairly quickly and ramps it up to transwarp speeds from there, with a plethora of frenetic action beats. As such that may be slightly antithetical to the older Trek fans who perhaps prefer a more cerebral approach, but it fits in well with the new movie universe (the Abramverse or the Kelvin Timeline if you will).
The Pegg and Jung script goes some way in bridging this gap, filled with respectful nods to the original series, and even covering the passing of Nimoy with a degree of tact. It helps the film balance its large cast of characters, giving them all an appropriate level of screen time. Moving back and forth between the pairings, it keeps the plot churning along nicely, while allowing for some great character moments.
But like so many things Trek, it comes down to the big three – Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and Bones (Karl Urban). Here they show a divergence from the Original Series characters while remaining true in spirit. Pine brings a sense of ennui to Kirk that Shatner doesn’t touch upon till Wrath of Khan. Quinto pulls upon the familiar character thread of a man torn between two worlds, but it is further enhanced by the destruction of Vulcan and his relationship with Uhura. Urban…..well, actually Urban plays Bones just like DeForest Kelly would have. So effortlessly so, that he might actually be his reincarnation.
The result is a fast paced film that’s a whole lot of fun, without abandoning the spirit of the series.