Making a third sequel has to be near impossible for most screenwriters and directors. In the case of the Star Trek reboot, it was a tall order.
The first film was exciting getting to know the new versions of the characters that sci-fi fans have become so used to and the second one also relied heavily on nostalgia to carry it successfully to a fun version of a film we had already seen. When Star Trek Beyond opens, it seems the approach the film took was to openly inhabit the perspective of the viewer. At the beginning of the film, we find Kirk in the same position as those watching; ready for something else. It’s a bold tactic but one that far beats out trying to go bigger and better and attempt to wow the audience a third time with the novelty of a new Star Trek movie.
We begin to see that Kirk is not the only one who is ready for something else but Spock is also looking to move on to new adventures without the Enterprise crew. Before either of them can pull the trigger on moving on, they are sent on one last rescue mission. This rescue mission soon turns into a fight for life as they are betrayed and the Enterprise is completely destroyed. The villain is a character all too familiar with the Federation whose is name is Krall, played by the always fantastic Idris Elba. Krall is on a mission to destroy the federation completely. The crew finds a new ally in an inhabitant of the planet named Jaylah, a character who has already lost everything due to Krall.
The scale on this film seemed a fair amount smaller than the previous two films, with a simpler plot and very few different locations in which the film takes place. Much of the science and complexity that existed in the previous two films were largely skipped over, to the film’s detriment, but the emotional quality of the characters is amplified, perhaps due to the lack of distraction.
Both Chris Pine’s Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock are much more subdued and introspective, hinting at much more going on beneath the surface that they are not yet willing to expose. The real performance that stands out is Simon Pegg’s Scotty. There is one scene in particular between him and Jaylah that suggests that Scotty could have been given much more screen time. Simon Pegg, who also co-wrote the film, plays Scotty less as comedic relief and more of the caring old-timer with sayings from his grandmother to ease the turmoil of others.
Overall, Star Trek Beyond was a solid third sequel. By downplaying it’s role in the series along with its willingness to meet the audience where they are, director, Justin Lin, was able to help the audience settle in to a fun space adventure film. Big kudos to the filmmakers for allowing the Beastie Boys to save the universe, as we all know is completely appropriate. By the end of the film the audience finds itself again with Kirk and Spock, thinking that we were through and ready to move on, but finding the vision and hope to stick around a little longer.