While this article is intended for those who have not been fortunate enough to see the latest installment to the Star Trek series, it’s meant to reveal reasons why the movie will appeal to skeptical and hesitant viewers. That said, readers be advised: spoilers ahead. But, if you’re not afraid of a few secrets being unveiled, we implore you to read on and boldly go where no spoiler-phobes have gone before…
The reboot of the Star Trek movies has overwhelmingly been successful. J. J. Abrams was able to deliver to fans the mind-blowing wonders of unexplored galaxies and recreate characters from the foundations Gene Roddenberry had built so long ago. Star Trek: Into Darkness received a bit more criticism for boldly going where the series had already gone before, retelling the most famous and arguably one of the best told Star Trek stories: The Wrath of Khan. However, fans have largely loved all that J. J. and the Bad Robot team have done with the reboot.
We all got nervous when we found out J. J. wasn’t going to direct the third installment in the series. He was passing the torch to a different director, one who hadn’t directed any science fiction films in his career. Then we found out that a handful of our most favorite writers weren’t returning either and we just wanted to give up on this movie before it even had a chance.
We’re here to say that Star Trek: Beyond deserves your attention and is just as good an addition to the franchise, if not a better addition, than Star Trek: Into Darkness. Here are fifteen reasons why you’ll love Star Trek: Beyond!
15. Uhura and Spock’s Relationship on Ice
Since the original series was known for Uhura’s ongoing sexual tension with Kirk, we were all a bit surprised when she immediately leapt into the arms of a grieving Spock in Star Trek. However, the odd pairing between the sexy communications officer and the rational and seemingly unfeeling first mate somehow worked. Things got a little bungled in Star Trek: Into Darkness when Spock’s potential fear of death interfered with their relationship, but that wasn’t something a little fight on Kronos couldn’t fix.
However, things have changed a lot since Spock and Uhura subdued Khan. Star Trek: Beyond picks up with the crew of the Enterprise halfway through their five year excursion into deep, unexplored space when, for reasons that aren’t fully explored, Uhura and Spock have decided to pump the brakes on their relationship. While it’s a bummer to think that perhaps Uhura and Spock might not make it in the long run, it’s awesome to see how this ex-couple operates when put in life-or-death situations.
14. Leonard Nimoy’s Death Is A Major Plot Point
Many lifelong Star Trek fans know that the actor who portrayed Mr. Spock in the original TV show, Leonard Nimoy, passed away on February 27 of 2015. It was a tragic day not only for Star Trek fans, but also for his peers in theatre, music, and indie film. He is certainly missed.
Star Trek: Beyond was in the writing stages of pre-production when Leonard Nimoy passed away. Since the actor was fairly present in the series, writers had to somehow explain why the first generation Spock would no longer appear. Since the alternate timeline version of Spock was much older, it was easy to simply tell the audience that his character died in a similar way. What we didn’t expect was just how relevant this Spock’s death would be to the story. When Zachary Quinto‘s Spock discovers that Ambassador Spock perished, he is confronted with a serious dilemma: whether to continue his work with the Federation or to step into Ambassador Spock’s shoes as one of the few surviving Vulcans.
13. Directed By Action Movie Master, Justin Lin
When we learned that J. J. Abrams was not going to be the director for the third installment of the new Star Trek franchise, we all panicked a bit. “Who will take his place? Who could ever deign to take his place?!” When it was announced that Justin Lin would direct the film in his stead, our stomach’s turned. Justin Lin? The director infamous for his work in the Fast & Furious franchise? The same guy whose most exciting directorial prospects were for a long-overdue Space Jam sequel and for another needless Jason Bourne sequel? This is who J. J. chose to entrust the Star Trek story to?
Yes, and it wasn’t as tragic as we all thought it would be. Justin did an amazing job of holding true to the style J. J. created for the brand: lens flares, crazy explosions, and the frightening threat and sexy appeal of outer space! He stayed true to fans of the original series and the reboot alike, placing emphasis on characters and ensemble rather than events and spectacle (though there’s still plenty of awe-inspiring moments to go around).
12. Callbacks to the First Film
Franchises and movie series can be great. They allow fans to follow beloved characters across adventures that take years, all so that they can realize they’ve been watching miniature voyages all along and real adventure was the overarching story all along. Strangely, this was something that Star Trek: Into Darkness was bad at. While it was a great adventure, it felt like another episode in the lives of the crew.
Star Trek: Beyond succeeded where Star Trek: Into Darkness failed. The show recalls some of the most beloved moments from the first film. We finally get to see Jim Kirk have a sweet moment where he reconnected with memories of his father over a retro motorcycle; a mid-air beam back to the ship happens that’s wildly reminiscent of his near death experience with Sulu; and of course, we can’t forget the classic song “Sabotage” that’s brought back at the end!
11. Designs are Great & Classic
Yes, pretty much the entire production team changed for this addition to the Star Trek franchise. We were all very afraid that suddenly everything would look and feel different when watching the film. Would they change the uniforms so they looked weird? Would they change the design of the Enterprise for some reason? Would the aliens look super fake or make us uncomfortable with their CGI layers? Would this new production team totally ruin the Star Trek aesthetic?
We get your concerns, but this new production team did an amazing job of maintaining the solid design elements that have evolved with the series over the last fifty years. The uniforms have changed slightly, but they’ve just become a bit slimmer and, let’s face it, sexier! The aliens are unique and interesting, but not overwhelmingly computer generated and the makeup is believable. The planets are dynamic environments, but still realistic and strangely familiar.
10. Idris Elba
For those of you that were unaware, the primary villain in this Star Trek sequel is known as Krall and is played by the much loved British actor, Idris Elba. The highly successful actor, known most for his lead roles in Pacific Rim, Thor, and Prometheus, plays a man who has only adopted the identity of Krall. He was once known as Balthazar Edison, a captain of a ship called the Franklin which was launched in the early days of the Federation. He became disillusioned, angry, bitter, and crazed when the Federation forced him to make friends of enemies, and believed that the Federation had intentionally marooned him and his crew to deep space. Through repurposing other life forms and appropriating materials and resources for his cause, he extended his lifespan at the expense of his human characteristics.
Idris Elba’s character receives little attention at the beginning of the film; it was as if the producers wanted his identity to be a mystery until the end. However, Idris himself became a selling point for the film and he’s advertised flagrantly in the previews! If you’d like to see Idris playing a dynamic and jaded villain, now’s a great chance.
9. We (Briefly) See the Crew Drop Their Shields
Everyone acts differently at work than they do at home, right? We all go to work in our nice clothes, avoid altercations to preserve strong working relationships, and find ways to stay as productive as possible in efforts to help our organizations and coworkers. Members of the Federation are no different. Even on five-year long missions, the crew members of the Enterprise are implored to remain as professional as possible while on duty.
Fortunately for us, we got to see the Enterprise park and the crew disembark at a Federation base called Yorktown. Though their stop was painfully short, we were able to glimpse into the personal lives of crew members. We saw Chekhov trying to catch whatever ladies he could; Uhura trying to navigate the sloppy fallout of her breakup with Spock; Kirk trying to solve his problems with alcohol; and, perhaps most adorable, Sulu getting to reunite with his husband and daughter.
8. Basically, the Villain is Defeated by Rock
Obviously, we’re about to divulge a big old spoiler about the climax of the film. If you want to skip ahead, we won’t be offended. Just know that any problem can be solved with a hearty dose of rock and roll.
To boil down the plot a bit for you, Krall controls these tiny and horribly destructive ships through what are essentially radio waves. Certain frequencies equate to certain formations, and the ships seem to form this formations like bees. The crew of the Enterprise figures this out and decides to use their strength against them and mess with the frequency. In a ludicrous and kind of hilarious display, nearly all of Krall’s fleet is destroyed to the tune of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” It’s ridiculous, yes, and it may even leave you shaking your head with a smile on your face but HEY – that is a smile on your face. This portion of the climax panders directly to our tastes for action and it’s hard not to kind of love how cool our crew looks in that moment.
7. The New Ladies are Awesome
Star Trek was made to be a very forward thinking television series, given the time period it came out. While the leads were a couple of white men, the ensemble was filled with minorities. Uhura was one of the first women of African descent to play a meaningful supporting cast member; Chekhov was a Russian ally written during the Cold War; Sulu was written to represent all of the fears America had of foreign Asian powers.
This movie surprisingly did more to promote diversity and empowerment. While Spock was horribly injured and Kirk was almost neutered of his power, two women were given a lot of power in this movie: Kalara, played by Lydia Wilson, who dupes (and dupes again) the Federation into playing right into Krall’s plan, and Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella, whose expertise helps save the crew of the Enterprise. These tough chicks are the reason everything in the movie happens!
6. Co-Written by Simon Pegg
From the day J. J. Abrams agreed to direct the new Star Trek reboot, Simon Pegg was waving his hands volunteering to work on the project. When the quirky and adorable English actor was cast in the role of Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, he seemed better suited to the role than the original actor (James Doohan). His funny and awkward sensibilities matched the character better than anyone ever before.
When the Bad Robot team was handed the opportunity to lead the reboot of the Star Wars franchise, they realized they needed their top talent to switch over to the development of The Force Awakens. Writers who previously worked on Star Trek were jumping ship to work on Star Wars, giving lifelong Trekkie Simon Pegg the opportunity to step up and write a movie for one of his all-time favorite franchises and he did not disappoint. His love for Star Trek is obvious in every moment of the film.
5. Spock and Bones’ Friendship Really Blooms
Dr. Hank McCoy, also known as Bones, and Spock were never known for having a great relationship. In the original series, they were known for constantly butting heads. However their conflicting advice usually provided Kirk with the different perspectives necessary to make an informed and strategic decision. The reboot of the series hasn’t changed much; Bones and Spock are still two of Kirk’s very best and most trusted friends, though the two can never seem to get along. They are the Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson to Jim Kirk’s Steve Rogers (was that too nerdy of an analogy? Moving on…).
However, in this latest installment, Bones and Spock are stranded together on the barren planet separate from everyone else. With Spock suffering from a potentially mortal wound and no help in sight, the two are forced to bond and open up to each other. This movie brings the two characters closer than perhaps they ever were before.
4. The Enterprise is Lost in Space
One of the things about Star Trek as a franchise is that, by nature, it’s fairly predictable. The crew is going to go on an adventure, face perilous obstacles, band together, and cleverly find a solution that will safely benefit as many parties as possible. Of course, that’s not the blueprint for every episode or movie, but the mold does fit many of the stories.
However, this movie went a bit outside of the realm of the familiar. In the film, the Enterprise goes into uncharted space where the Federation can’t help them, and then they are promptly attacked and overtaken by Krall’s men. Kirk is separated from his crew; Spock is separated from Kirk and the crew; all of the Enterprise’s leadership and tools are taken from them. That’s like Batman without the Batmobile and his gadgets! Seeing how the crew operates in this completely foreign environment is very exciting.
3. It’s About the Crew
Though the scary undertaking in Star Trek: Into Darkness was a great story, it didn’t tell us much new information about many of the characters and we didn’t get to see much growth from the cast. Kirk was still reckless and lucky, Uhura still loved Spock, Chekhov was still a dweeb, and Scotty was still the cute comedic relief.
Star Trek: Beyond allows us a look at the characters and shows how much they’ve grown since they first stepped onto the Enterprise years ago. Finally, Scotty is more than a witty fast-talker, he’s responsible for saving the entire crew! Spock is suddenly a very jealous and kind of creepy ex-boyfriend! Kirk is forced to finally confront his past and his still unresolved daddy issues! Thankfully, Bones finally becomes more than a terrible joker and actually steps into the role of advising friend for both Kirk and Spock! The growth of each crew member is noticeable and appreciated in this addition to the franchise.
2. For Anton
Anton Yelchin was a perfect casting decision for the role of Chekhov. The Russian American actor was only 27 when Star Trek: Beyond came out, and only 27 when he died of a tragic accident involving his automobile in June of 2016. A defective gear shift in his Jeep Grand Cherokee caused his vehicle to roll backwards on him and pin him against the gate to his home in California. He died later that day from the accident.
Star Trek: Beyond was dedicated lovingly to his memory. His character was portrayed as just blossoming into young adulthood, just as Anton himself was. His cast members all publicly mourned his passing immensely; it was obvious that Anton was much more than a peer, but a loved and respected friend. J. J. Abrams released a statement on Twitter saying, “You were brilliant. You were kind. You were funny as hell. And you weren’t here nearly long enough. Missing you.”
1. Made for Fun, Not Leaps in Sci-Fi
Here’s the thing: so many science fiction movies have come out recently trying to do something grand. Either they’re trying to reinvent and revitalize something lost long ago (like the new Star Wars reboot, Prometheus, or Planet of the Apes), or they’re trying to revolutionize ideas on the forefront of science fiction (like Interstellar, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, or Inception), or they’re trying to inspire social change (like District 9, Chappie, or Snowpiercer), or they’re trying to make the genre of science fiction more accessible to reluctant fans (like Her, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or Looper). All these movies have very grand intentions.
Star Trek: Beyond is a change of pace; it’s not trying to accomplish or prove anything. It is simply a fun movie to have a fun time with. And there is nothing wrong with that! The movie is purely made for enjoyment, rather than sharp analysis or discussion. While sometimes we crave a complex science fiction story that invigorates us, this sci-fi treat is meant for us all to have a good time with.