In the third film since J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek Universe, we get an original story. And really? It is quite a bit of fun. It begins a bit shaky with attempts to give us brief character moments that are not entirely effective. It is nice to see McCoy taking a bigger role then the last film, and more of a focus on the friendship of he and Jim. And hey, they are actually in the midst of their five year mission of exploration! The previous two films were set before that.
We find James T. Kirk having lost his way in the far reaches of space. Not literally, but spiritually. He is not alone, Spock is having a personal crisis regarding his role on the enterprise versus feeling of obligation to his fellow Vulcans. While visiting a space station, they are contacted by an unfamiliar species, a captain who begs for help for her stranded ship. The Enterprise takes her out only to be attacked and (in the long standing tradition of Trek) destroyed. To be honest, this sequence gets a little boring as it seems endless and kind of confusing. But when the crew lands and is dispersed on a nearby planet, the film kicks into gear.
I was skeptical of bringing a director of the Fast and Furious (admittedly director of some of the best films in the franchise) in to direct. But Justin Lin shows a lot of skill at making an energetic sci-fi film. The villain’s full motives are mysterious at first, but when revealed it all falls into place.
Everyone’s performances are true to form and this feels like an action packed version of the original crew. It is not that much deeper than the previous two installments, but it is far more effective in it’s story telling. Personally, I found the interaction between Spock and McCoy tremendously enjoyable. they had nice moments of expression of concern and admiration as well as some entertaining banter. Kirk’s “ladies man” persona is downplayed in this film, he never even hits on Jaylah, the pretty alien girl.
If ranking the Altered Timeline films, I would say Beyond is easily the best as it hits it’s marks. The villain is a strong and compelling threat (something the previous entries suffered at) and the villains plan at least makes sense and is not entirely dependent on complete coincidence. Okay, maybe a slight coincidence. But I enjoyed Star Trek Beyond, and enjoyed it very much.