“Star Trek Beyond” marks the third installment in this rebooted franchise and the latest entry has finally given this lackluster month the breath of fresh air it so richly needed.
While most franchises tend to lose sight of what made them so great up to this point, I’m delighted to report that “Beyond” remains just as smart, funny and entertaining as the first two.
We pick up the action three years after the events of “Into Darkness” with the Starship Enterprise still venturing into outer space. The ship and her crew then encounter an uncharted planet and are attacked by a malevolent alien race. The attack lands them on the planet, and it’s up to Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk to lead the crew out of there ASAP.
This movie splits up the characters on different journeys: Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban) team up with the latter having to step in repeatedly to save the day; Kirk and Chekov (the late Anton Yelchin) join together to do the same. Yelchin’s final performance is perhaps his best work in the series, and the movie is dedicated to his memory as well as Leonard Nimoy.
The movie is crammed wall-to-wall with spectacular set pieces, including the alien race using a kind of holographic camouflage that the Enterprise steals and uses against the aliens. It creates the image of having the same person bouncing around and doing multiple things simultaneously.
This action scene is antithetical to my usual belief that most sequences like this are noisy and chaotic, and act like a pinball machine with all the balls let loose at the same. On this occasion, we know what’s going on, and we can maintain control.
This was also the first movie I’ve seen in IMAX 3D and, to get straight to the point, the experience is nothing short of immersive and visceral throughout. The picture quality is crisp and detailed and expansive, and the sound is very much a tour-de-force of auditory wonderment. Even with that, I think I’m putting it lightly.
J.J. Abrams, who directed the first two movies, steps down as producer and hands the reigns over to Justin Lin, who directed some of the “Fast and Furious” movies. He shows that he has respect for the material, as well as the earlier entries, and knows how to deliver a space opera spectacle.
The story is engrossing and compelling. The performances remain strong and solid, including some intriguing romantic tension between Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and the special effects sequences are coherent instead of chaotic.
“You’re really ready to go back out there, are you?” Bones asks.
Well, if the next one is equally as entertaining and exciting as this one, “Beam me up, Scotty!”
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.