STAR TREK BEYOND [a Film Review]

Star Trek Beyond is the 13th film of the Star Trek franchise, and while actor-writer of Star Trek Beyond Simon Pegg (Star Trek franchise, Mission: Impossible franchise) once said that “the odd-numbered Trek films are s**t”, this newest film may be the best of the modern trilogy (2009’s Star Trek, 2013’s Into Darkness, 2016’s Beyond).

Usually when a franchise hits its 50th anniversary, the only people capable of enjoying them are likely the diehards and nostalgia seekers. The Star Trek franchise celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, starting from 1966’s Star Trek: The Original Series, which introduced the visionary world of Gene Roddenberry, creator of the Star Trek franchise, and classic characters like Captain James T. Kirk and Spock to a generation inspired to reach for the stars. The soaring popularity of science fiction like Star Trek could possibly be due to the fact that just three years later in 1969, mankind finally took its first step on the Moon. In its 50th year, the franchise could finally have its triumphant return with Beyond and a new television series in the works.

With J.J. Abrams, director of the first two modern Star Trek films, taking a backseat this time, possibly due to the heavy criticism of Into Darkness or maybe he was just too busy with the last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the command chair now sits Justin Lin, director of the later Fast & Furious films. The crew of USS Enterprise receives a distress call coming from an uncharted territory of space, upon investigation, they discover a new threat that could potentially destroy the Federation of Planets and have to find a way to destroy it before all hope is lost. If you feel that the plot seemed familiar, you are absolutely correct. With screenplay written by long-time Trekkies {fans of Star Trek}, Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, the film bears more resemblance to the classic The Original Series feel than J.J. Abrams’ dark and modern world.

The story is rather self-contained with a heavy emphasis on the crew of USS Enterprise, than the entire Star Trek universe like the previous two outings. While too much nostalgia may cause fans to riot (see examples: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, 2016’s Ghostbusters), too much distance from the source material is tricky too. We can’t please every fan in the world on what they want, but Beyond did manage to revitalise the essence that made Star Trek so unique. It is this that made it different from the other science fiction franchises. While Star Wars takes a more “spiritual journey” feel, Star Trek takes on the sense of adventure and exploration, so I do not know why people are always comparing between Trek and Wars. They are very different, but interesting, takes on sci-fi storytelling.

The film also comes at the time of the passing of Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock in The Original Series and Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov in the modern trilogy, including Beyond. While Nimoy receives a well-felt sendoff, Yelchin’s Chekov plays a more significant role in this film.

In all, Star Trek Beyond is a marvel and gem of its franchise that has a possiblitiy of restoring this half-century-old franchise back into its golden age again. With a great crew and cast, Beyond may be aptly named for what is to come for this classic sci-fi franchise.

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