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Star Trek Beyond Goes Even Further into Darkness

<i>Star Trek Beyond</i> Goes Even Further into Darkness

The third installment of producer J.J. Abrams’ reboot series, Star Trek: Beyond delivers the continuing saga of young Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the brave crew of the USS Enterprise. While the plot is standard fare, the character development skin deep, and the dialogue nothing to write home about, Beyond brings the signature blend of escapism and somber truths that have drawn audiences to the Star Trek franchise for decades. 3 out of 5.

Want Another Take? Watch Our 3-Minute Video Review of Star Trek Beyond


Captain Kirk is the brash newcomer no more; the film begins halfway through a five-year exploratory mission for the Enterprise, and a steadier, more mature Kirk is beginning to weary of the daily routine, of the magnitude and endlessness of space. But before he can seek escape in a new position, what should be a straightforward mission turns into an utterly devastating attack on the Enterprise by the forces of a mysterious villain named Krall (Idris Elba).

Kirk, Spock, Scotty (screenwriter Simon Pegg), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Bones (Karl Urban), and the rest of the crew must navigate an unknown planet, join forces with like-minded scavenger Jayla (Sofia Boutella), and stop Krall before he can use an ancient weapon to destroy millions of lives on the Starbase Yorktown.

What Works?

This time around the Enterprise crew feels older, more settled, and the larger character arcs of the series benefit from this growth. On a similar note, the incredibly dark tone of the film’s early crisis is moving and powerful. Watching the characters face ultimate disaster allows the viewer to ponder many of the franchise’s key themes: unity, sacrifice, and hope.

These classic themes are deftly handled by the film’s stars, including supporting performances by John Cho as Sulu and (recently departed) Anton Yelchin as Chekov.

What Doesn't?

At its core, Beyond is another cookie cutter search-and-rescue film, with a dash of hurry-save-the-world thrown in. While it certainly does this better than many summer blockbusters, it fails to bring any particular ingenuity or originality to most of the plot. The scenes can feel a little bogged down by tropey lines (especially Kirk’s incessant….Kirkness?) but Trekkies are likely to approve of the cheek, and of the way actors stick to these beloved characters largely the same way they were written so long ago.

Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes

There are several lines that really pack a punch for the thinking, believing viewer. For example, “We will do what we have always done: we will find hope in the impossible” and “We change. We have to. Or we spend the rest of our lives fighting the same battles.” Revenge and regret are central themes in Krall’s backstory, contrasting against the unflagging optimism and adventurous (some might say, colonialist?) spirit of the Federation. The viewer is asked to ponder what kind of work, what kind of spirit, and what kind of relationships produce true triumph.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)

  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence
  • Language/Profanity: A few scattered moments of language and exclamations such as horsesh**, crap, a**, “my god” and “good lord”
  • Sexuality/Nudity: A couple is shown kissing; a woman throws a partially dressed man out of her room; a man returns to base to meet his family and is greeted by a young girl (presumably his daughter) and another man (presumably his partner).
  • Violence/Frightening/Intense: There is a lot of destruction, suspense, and mayhem, particularly during a long sequence where a starship is destroyed. Characters are shown wounded and with spatterings of blood. A villainous creature is able to drain other creatures of life, leaving them twisted and deformed. During action sequenced, the shots are shaky, close, and intense. A weapon (shown a few times) is able to destroy people by materializing and obliterating them.
  • Drugs/Alcohol: A few men are shown delighted to have found a reserve stash of strong alcohol aboard their ship. A large group of people makes a toast at a party with drinks in hand.

The Bottom Line

RECOMMENDED FOR: Star Trek fans (particularly of the newest reboot series), and those who like a good summer blockbuster with more substance than Transformers.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Those who have trouble enjoying sci-fi or action flicks, or who are particularly picky about plot holes space movies or easy resolutions to character development hurdles.

Star Trek: Beyond, directed by Justin Lin, opened in theaters July 22, 2016; available for home viewing November 1, 2016. It runs 120 minutes and stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Idris Elba, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Sofia Boutella, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin. Watch the trailer for Star Trek: Beyond here.

Debbie Holloway is a storyteller, creator, critic and advocate having adventures in Brooklyn, New York.

Publication date: July 22, 2016