A Blast To The Past With “Star Trek Beyond”
Within the first few minutes of “Star Trek Beyond,” I could feel the tension of both the audience and the cast members on screen. These reboot films have a responsibility not only to maintain a certain caliber, but to not ruin the enduring memories of those who viewed both “The Originals Series” and “The Next Generation”. I’m going to keep this review spoiler-free, but for some background, Beyond starts off with Captain Kirk (portrayed by Chris Pine) almost three years into his exploratory mission, accompanied by his crew, and slightly disillusioned. This review is by a closet Trekkie (yours truly), and what followed the opening of the film was… unexpectedly brilliant.
While standing in line for an early release screening at the Bullock Museum last Thursday, I still hadn’t convinced myself the movie was going to be even remotely good. In addition to being the third movie in an already tense bracket of installments, the conception of the film had spurred a script rewrite, a director change, and supposedly many changes to the visuals of the film itself. As the cast in the film were portraying the crew from “The Original Series”(or “TOS”), they had to uphold a 50+ year legacy regarding their composition and character setup. The bar was already set ludicrously high, more casual fans hoping the third film starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto would be palpable, whereas Trekkies wanted a more authentic feel to the film. This was going to be tough.
The film was punctuated in a very classic, rising action + falling action sense, opening with a myriad of explosions and closing with more of the same. The first 20 minutes irked me, as I thought this was just going to be a “space-ship explosions in 3D,” but the meat of the film did something than no prior reboot in the current trilogy had done before. It dropped combat. “TOS” was always about exploration of otherworldly species, the camaraderie between the crew, lush planets, and nefarious characters with intricate backgrounds. To date, this might be one of the most aesthetically pleasing Star Trek films I have ever seen. What amazed me even more was that the mantra of peace, diplomacy, and technological advancement from “TOS” was echoed into this film, creating a hauntingly reminiscent vibe similar to more avant-garde/counter-culture films of the ’60s. It proved that there was enough action without fighting, that could be portrayed in classic adventure scenarios.
It’s now been seven years since the JJ Abrams produced and directed reboot hit theaters, and I’m proud to say that his legacy, along with the Star Trek universe’s legacy, has not been tarnished by this film. If anything, its nuanced messages and acting have made the respective universe more accessible to those who never thought they would even be casual fans of Star Trek. This cast now has a tighter knit feel to it, and I’m hoping future directors don’t tamper with its chemistry. It’s for all of these reasons, that I think this is the best Star Trek film of the Abrams’ reboots.