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Star Trek Beyond (2016)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

STAR TREK BEYOND (2016)

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella

Written By: Simon Pegg, Doug Jung Directed By: Justin Lin

The Shot

If you’re an established Trekkie, Star Trek Beyond is a reverent but fun love letter to the franchise you hold dear.  If you’re not, Star Trek Beyond is an exciting space adventure that doesn’t require any prior investment to be enjoyed.  Either way, it’s one of the summer’s best movies.


The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

CHEDDAR SPREAD.

Cold packed for a five year misison.


Pairs Well With...

GLENFIDDICH.

According to Mr. Chekov, it’s a Russian invention.

“Is that classical music?”


I remember seeing the first trailer for Star Trek Beyond.  Specifically, I remember the concern with which the voice inside my head asked “Who put this rock video where my Star Trek is supposed to be?”

Without going into any spoilerific detail, I’ll just say that now that I’ve actually seen Star Trek Beyond, the irony of that initial concern is not lost on me.  I will also say that not only is this third installment of the rebooted franchise the best thus far in the series, but the best big screen summer movie I’ve seen thus far in 2016.

Star Trek Beyond plays like a 1960s television episode with 1979/80s motion picture era reflectivity and a 21 Century effects budget and attitude.  It is an incredibly crafted blend of homage and evolution, and of reverence and fresh forward motion.  It is an amalgam of all that has come before, and yet it is its own self, and this dichotomy is present in every aspect of the film, from the story to the production design to the music.  For longstanding fans of the half century old franchise, it is a love letter and a hot date… but not one that alienates a casual audience that won’t be in on all of the inside references that play off of five decades’ worth of history. 

It’s okay to come in fresh; the Trekkies won’t bite, and the movie will still make enough sense to enjoy.  You don’t need to know much of anything about Kirk and Spock and Scotty and Bones that the screenplay doesn’t explicitly tell you to simply enjoy Star Trek Beyond as a rockin’ space adventure that crashes into a planet and then hops on a motorcycle with ray guns blazing.  The spaceships look cool, the aliens are neat (especially the one Scotty makes friends with), and the visual effects are simply out this world.  (Indeed, off the cuff, I’d rate them amongst the best that’ve been seen in the entire franchise.)  The touchy-feely stuff that those Trekkie people around you are fawning over doesn’t get in the way of a simple, straightforward action plot that stands perfectly well on its own without any need for prelude or context.

So, general audience?  Go ahead and hop aboard the Enterprise for a couple of hours.  You’ll have fun, and the movie won’t demand that you make any sort of lifetime commitment in return.

As for the rest of us – those for whom the Star Trek Beyond represents a pop culture commitment that has stretched well past the limits of a one night stand – that love letter the creative team wrote isn’t just addressed to the franchise’s past; it’s also directed at us.

The writers know we’ll smile and nod knowingly when a reference is made that hearkens back to a previous film or to a running joke that may or may not actually be a Russian invention, and so they put those things there, for us.  The production design team and the director know that the Enterprise means more to fans than just a vehicle for getting the crew from place to place, and so before they do horrible things to her (that’s hardly a spoiler to anyone who’s seen the trailer), they make an effort to showcase her from within, and to do so as though this were the 1960s with a fifty-years on jump in effects technology, bringing the experience of what we affectionately call “the original series” to the modern screen without sacrificing the atmosphere.  And the cast… well, we already knew what they were capable of, didn’t we?  Though I will say that Scotty really comes into his own here; no doubt a perk of having Simon Pegg pen the script.

And wow, did he have fun with it.  I’d say more, but… no.  I can’t spoil the fun.  Just believe me when I tell you that the fun is there, and it rocks.

With that said, for longstanding fans of the franchise, the most outstanding aspect of Star Trek Beyond is the exceptional way it marks the passing of Leonard Nimoy, which to me is the classiest remembrance I can ever recall seeing in a motion picture.  A dedication to his memory is expected (and appreciated, of course, - and a further dedication is also made to the recently passed Anton Yelchin), but Star Trek Beyond actually incorporates Nimoy’s passing into the story as an essential element (and certainly not a gimmick).  I don’t want to spoil things with too many details, but… the class and reverence shown are truly wonderful, and might even bring a tear to the eyes of fans for whom Nimoy and his most famous character served (and continues to serve) as an inspiration.

But again, along with the feels, there is action.  And adventure.  And excitement.  And fun.  And humor.  And friendship.  All of the elements that have made “Star Trek” one of the most enduring pop culture icons of the past half century are here… and beyond.

When I left the theatre after watching Star Trek Beyond, I felt really, really good, and that’s something that’s becoming all too rare from modern Hollywood blockbusters.  It’s something worth encouraging, and holding on to, and – dare I say – experiencing more than once on the big screen, and then an untold number of times more on the smaller one come blu ray time.  If you’re an established “Star Trek” fan, this installment is a must, and if you’re not… like I said, Star Trek Beyond demands no commitments from you to try it and enjoy what you see, but it may inspire you to join the Trekkie throng.

Or at least stream some classic television episodes; whichever.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, July, 2016


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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