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STAR TREK BEYOND is without a doubt the best film in the JJ...

STAR TREK BEYOND is without a doubt the best film in the JJ Abrams-verse of Star Trek and easily the most fun I’ve had at the theaters this summer. Simon Pegg wrote (or rewrote rather) a film that’s DNA is very close to the best that The Original Series had to offer (it’s the closest we’ve seen in a very long time) while still being able to deliver all the humor and incredible action set-pieces you’d want to see from these types of films. People fearing this would be “Star Fast Trek Furious” need not fear. While the film does deliver action like that the restrain it shows in the first two acts (it’s genuinely thoughtful/reflective/contemplative) and how its all about the characters/story is nothing short of admirable (the relationships matter the most here and after the Enterprise crashes the crew is split-up into 4 distinct groups with their owns stories which is something you’d see from The Original Series). 

The key here is that the film is simply fun. It starts with the crew 3 years into their 5 year mission in deep space (something I desperately wanted here). When someone calls for help The Enterprise is chosen to lend a hand (something I desperately wanted here). Then when the shit hits the fan the action is full of imagination and genuine wonderment. In the midst of all of this there are so many amazing and great character moments. The entire crew is involved (something the first two films were lacking) and everyone gets a chance to really shine/contribute to the things unfolding around them. I loved the approach and the tone shift does wonders.

The best thing about this JJ Abrams-verse is the cast. While his first two films might’ve been lacking in story it can’t be denied this series is cast perfectly which each actor bringing out EVERYTHING we love about these characters while offering new aspects to keep them compelling. Front-and-center is Chris Pine. After playing second-fiddle to Spock in Into Darkness he gets the big arc here and it’s great to see Kirk work though his feelings of inadequacy and those daddy issues that are still plaguing his mind. He also gets to be a big hero and watching him finally become the Kirk we all want him to be is a joy. 

Like I said in the opening, the crew is split up into 4 groups and this added screen-time benefits everyone. Sulu and Uhura become prisoners of Krall (John Cho gets several really big moments but the nice quiet moment with his family really makes that 3rd act so much more important - Zoe Saldana finally makes an impression and Uhura as a character in general finally gets to accomplish and do something…it’s nice). McCoy and Spock get stranded together with McCoy trying to keep Spock alive after an injury (Karl Urban really really REALLY gets to shine here and since his Bones is a dead perfect DeForest Kelly it’s phenomenal -  Zachary Quinto is as good as ever with his Spock and his chemistry with Urban makes that story the most fun of them all). Simon Pegg (who is a writer and actor - doubly slaying it) gets to team-up with Jayla (Sophia Boutella from Kingsman who absolutely steals the show and is destined to become a favorite you’ll want to see in every incarnation going forward), a character that reminded me of Leeloo from The Fifth Element (she’s so innocent and lovable but can absolutely kick all kinds of ass when it calls for it). After recent events of the last month, its wonderful that Chekov gets teamed up with Kirk, giving us a lot of the wonderfulness that Anton Yelchin brings for the last time in the universe (that accent is simply phenomenal and everything about him being gone makes me incredibly sad). As far as the big bad goes I really enjoyed Idris Elba and what he brings here with Krall. He certainly gets lost a bit in the middle section (it’s all about the crew after all) but his big reveal later on was genuinely moving and his motivations were completely founded (which makes for the best bad guys).

All the plots come together and this is why you get Justin Lin to direct this film. He shot the shit out of this film. He has some of the sexiest camera angles outside The Enterprise and really knows how to keep the pace moving. Even in all the character moments it never loses momentum and never looks back. The coolest thing in the film is Yorktown (a deep space base that Bones refers to as “a snow globe” is genuinely one of the sexiest things any sci-fi film has given us in quite some time - breathtaking doesn’t do it justice and Lin is all over the wonderment of the reveal). The action is explosive and the set-pieces are ginormous, especially given how reserved the film was until this moment (hell, the film even pays off the first trailer that everyone except me hated, you’ll see why and have the biggest most stupidest grin on your face when they do it). Michael Giacchino once again brings a terrific score to the proceedings. 

Finally, before we leave I have to bring up the two elephants in the room which was the death of Leonard Nimony and the shocking death of Anton Yelchin. The film offers a great tribute to Nimoy (Spock Prime dies which is the bases for the entire arc of our Spock giving us some great…sad…but great moments which allow us to say our final goodbyes to a legend). As I said, it’s cathartic in some respects that Yelchin gets paired with Pine this time out because we get a lot of him and the ending offers a nice goodbye knowing that he’ll never be forgotten or replaced. 

Have an open mind (if Into Darkness alienated you from the franchise have no fear - this puts them back on solid ground) and are willing to sit back/enjoy the ride this film offers so much fun, action, humor while bringing a genuine sense of wonder with some beautiful moments of pure emotion. I had a blast, one of the best films of the summer. 

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