Star Trek Beyond is the third movie in the rebooted Star Trek franchise started by J.J. Abrams in 2009. The first film, simply titled Star Trek, was known for bringing Star Trek into the modern era of film. The second outing, Star Trek Into Darkness, was a complete mess, especially compared to Wrath of Khan, which it borrowed most of its inspiration from. Due to the 2009 entry being an origin story and Into Darkness remaking Khan, Star Trek Beyond feels like the first original and new Star Trek entry in ages.
Immediately we are thrown on board the USS Enterprise during its five year mission in uncharted space. Then, in a huge departure from the previous two films in the series, we are treated to a voice over from Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk. This Captain's Log voice over, however brief, sets up the themes of isolation for the movie. Luckily, the Enterprise is due for some upgrades, leading to a brief shore leave in the awe inspiring space station of Yorktown.
During this brief stop, a majority of the command crew gets fleshed out from where they were left off during Into Darkness. This is where we see John Cho's Commander Sulu embrace his family. Zachary Quinto Commander Spock has ended things with Zoe Saldana's Lieutenant Uhura, and learns of his alternate timeline Ambassador Spock's passing. Kirk is considering leaving the Enterprise for a desk based job with Starfleet because isolation in space is too much for him.
Shore leave is cut short by the arrival of an unknown alien, claiming her crew needs rescue beyond a nearby nebula that jams subspace communication signals. Since the Enterprise is the only ship able to navigate through the nebula, the crew sets off for one last mission to help those in need. As seen in the trailers, the Enterprise gets completely destroyed and the crew is scattered throughout an unknown planet, cut off from Starfleet.
Dividing the crew during the escape from a scuttled Enterprise is one of the best decisions of the movie, because it allows the ensemble to polish their performances to a near perfect shine. As Doctor McCoy, Karl Urban's snappy humor and delivery plays incredibly well off of Quinto's deliberately dry Spock. Kirk and Chekov find each other pretty quickly, and Anton Yelchin shines. His scenes are a bit longer than anyone else's, probably due to his passing, but they do justice to his character and to him as an actor. He will be sorely missed. As Scotty, Simon Pegg soon finds himself helping the local alien Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella. Boutella's performance rides the line between playful and mysterious incredibly well, and is a fresh addition to the already swelling cast.
Both Sulu and Uhura are captured by the absolutely menacing Krall played by Idris Elba. Elba gives the role his all and commands every frame he is in. His character also has no basis in any previous iteration of Trek, and I feel it truly allows him to bring his own calm and terror to the role. Krall is the absolute perfect foil for this version of Kirk, and Elba dives into Krall head first. I cannot overstate how menacing and perfect he was.
Going into the movie I was skeptical of what Justin Lin would bring to the table as director, but I was absolutely blown away. The action is gripping and had me constantly on the edge of my seat, with one particular white knuckle moment starting off the amazing third act. I have seen some complaints about how a certain element of the third act was handled, but it was so much fun thanks to Lin's added bit of style to it had me grinning ear to ear. Oh, and scientifically it makes perfect sense, even if it comes off a little goofy.
Star Trek: Beyond is by far the most entertaining and fun blockbuster of the summer. The action is amazing and well shot and the score is beautiful. The theme of isolation is present throughout the entire movie and each character deals with it differently, allowing them all to shine.
This review originally appeared on RoguesPortal.com.