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“Star Trek Beyond” is a rare success for the 2016 summer movie season

It hasn’t been a particularly great summer movie season, I think we can all agree with that sentiment. Outside of a small handful of releases, it has been one disappointment after the next. This week, however, things pick up with the emergence of Star Trek Beyond, a sequel that not only manages to improve on what came before it, but really fits in with the entire franchise so far to date. It was very impressive what this film does, without ever really calling attention to itself. I suspect it’s going to be a pretty big hit, and rightly so, as it’s a high quality effort.

The sequel picks up a while after the events of Star Trek into Darkness (itself taking place a bit after Star Trek). The crew of the Enterprise, led by Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), is in the middle of a five year mission when they wind up being attacked by a mysterious new enemy named Krall (Idris Elba). Their ship is destroyed, much of the crew is captured, and the main members of our team of heroes are separated. Kirk is paired with Chekov (Anton Yelchin) among the Enterprise’s ruins, Doctor ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban) is trying to save an injured Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto), Scotty (Simon Pegg) meets a stranger who can potentially help them all in Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), while Lieutenant Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) are among the captives of Krall. Eventually they all come together in order to save the day. In some ways it’s like a long television episode, but I mean that in a good way. Justin Lin directs, while Pegg co-wrote the screenplay with Doug Jung (though uncredited work was apparently done by Roberto Orci, Patrick McKay, and John D. Payne). The rest of the cast includes Shohreh Aghdashloo, Lydia Wilson, Deep Roy, and more. Michael Giacchino again provides the score.

This is a very satisfying sequel, while also being perhaps the most appropriate screen adaptation of the Star Trek original series. It’s a lot of fun, exciting in all the right ways, but not solely concerned with action. Lin handles all of that from the director’s chair, but Pegg and his co-writer(s) came up with a script that tackles ideas in the process. It owes a lot to the television series, but it’s done in a loving and slightly less than obvious way. Most of all, what it is, to me at least, is a crowd pleasing summer blockbuster, which we’ve been in short supply of.

I don’t think there’s any chance that this captures awards buzz like Star Trek did a few years back, but it’s not a near also ran like Star Trek into Darkness was. Star Trek Beyond could contend in the technical categories, namely Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Hairstyling & Makeup, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects. Star Trek was nominated in Makeup (winning there), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects, while Star Trek into Darkness just popped up in Visual Effects. For the new one, something in between seems appropriate, like Makeup and Visual Effects, for example.

Basically, if you’re a fan of the franchise, Friday brings an exciting new chapter in Star Trek Beyond. The cast displays the same excellent chemistry that they have in the two previous outings, with a story and plotting that just feels right for the series. It’s not a perfect film or anything of the sort, but it more than satisfies, which hasn’t happened too often in 2016 during these warmer months. This is a movie that’s well worth seeing, so unless you really dislike science fiction, I suspect it’ll please you. It opens tomorrow and should have a sizable audience. Give it a shot…

Be sure to check out Star Trek Beyond, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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