Star Trek Beyond Overcomes Plot with Visual Spectacle and Brilliant Moments

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Star Trek Beyond on Blu-ray / DVD

The latest Star Trek film in the rebooted franchise bears the curious title STAR TREK BEYOND. Science fiction fans may have looked at this and thought it might be a peer into the far future of the Federation, akin to BATMAN BEYOND. Others might have expected the Federation to bo beyond...well, something. The galactic rim, perhaps.

The movie opens with a comedic sequence of Kirk (CHRIS PINE) addressing an assemblage of aliens with the presentation of an artifact from another race as a symbol of peace. It doesn't go down well. Upon beaming away, Kirk celebrates his birthday alone, reflecting on the fact that he's officially lived longer than his father by one year. He even mentions to his log that after so long in space, things begin to feel "episodic," which I thought was rather clever. McCoy (KARL URBAN) joins him with a better bottle than the one Jim was sipping, stolen from Chekov's locker, and they toast the senior Kirk with a symbolic third glass. I was wondering if they had actually filmed this scene as an afterthought, because on another level it seemed a fitting toast to the late ANTON YELCHIN, the actor who plays Chekov on this film.

Meanwhile, the unaccepted artifact gets put into storage by Spock (ZACHARY QUINTO), just as the Enterprise database gets hacked by the Russians the Chinese persons unknown. It's an important plot point.

Another, more obvious nod, occurs later when the crew stops over at the Yorktown Death Star space station, a giant snow-globe like structure populated by many thousands. We learn that Kirk is considering a vice-Admiral position and is recommending Spock to take over as captain. At the same time, Spock is presented information that Ambassador Spock (LEONARD NIMOY) has passed, and is himself considering taking over his mission. When a distressed alien vessel is brought into the Yorktown, the Enterprise crew finds they are the only ones with a ship capable of traversing a certain nebula where the rescued captain's crew are trapped. So it's set a course and engage to this mysterious nebula.

Guess what.

It's a Trap
Yeah, I went there.

The battle is impressive! The enemy ships are like a swarm of wasps, and the method of boarding the Enterprise is brutally old school -- none of this neat-and-clean teleporting. And the ship is heavily damaged. (That last bit should win some sort of award for understatement.)

With the crew separated, and most of them captured by the leader of the aliens, Krall (IDRIS ELBA), Kirk and Chekov are on their own, Scotty (SIMON PEGG) finds an ally named Jaylah (SOFIA BOUTELLA) who is living on an ancient crashed Federation vessel, McCoy is nursing a gravely wounded Spock, and Sulu (JOHN CHO) and Uhura (ZOE SALDANA) work on a plan to help the other prisoners escape as they learn the secret truth to Krall's power, itself a deus ex machina that's never really explained properly other than that he had to have it in order for the story to work.

What Krall wants is the artifact (remember the hack?) because it is the hand-sized critical-component to a bio-weapon that he already has the rest of, and he wants to use it against the Federation for revenge. And that's something you're going to have to watch the film to understand.

There are certainly questions raised by the plot, but fans will likely be forgiving of that due to the sheer visual spectacle of STAR TREK BEYOND. Even the method of disrupting the alien communications will get a pass, simply because of the soundtrack. I'll watch it again, for sure, and I'll make myself not care about the deficits. So will you.

Bonuses on this Blu-ray release include several making-of documentaries, a special on 50 years of STAR TREK, and a tribute to both Nimoy and Yelchin.

Previews on this release include ARRIVAL and XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0