Stellar "Star Trek Beyond" Takes Viewers to the Next Level

When J.J. Abrams rebooted "Star Trek" in 2009, many fans were unhappy with the direction he took the franchise. They screamed that Abrams had taken the soul of Gene Roddenberry's forward-thinking and groundbreaking creation and turned it into a "Star Wars" clone. They claimed it didn't have a heart and concentrated solely on the tropes of modern action movies.

Longtime Trekkies might have been right at the time and had a valid gripe. I personally loved both the first movie and "Into Darkness". The way I look at it, Abrams saved a franchise that, for all intents and purposes, was completely dead in the water. Whether you liked it or not, 2002's "Star Trek: Nemesis" had all but put the last nail in the coffin. For six years, "Star Trek" lied dormant and dead.

"Star Trek Beyond" boldly takes us where the two previous films had yet to go. It throws us headlong into the five year mission to seek out new life and new civilizations. Director Justin Lin successfully takes the formula of the original series and injects it with the modern dose of action a new generation of Trekkies will crave and demand.

A surprise attack in outer space forces the Enterprise to crash-land on a mysterious world in “Star Trek Beyond”. The assault came from Krall (Idris Elba), a lizard-like dictator who derives his energy by sucking the life out of his victims. Krall needs an ancient and valuable artifact that's aboard the badly damaged starship. Left stranded in a rugged wilderness, Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the crew must now battle a deadly alien race while trying to find a way off their hostile planet.

As usual, all the main crew members in "Star Trek Beyond" did a great job of capturing the essence of their characters and carry on the legacy each one carved out since the launch of the TV show in 1966. The death of Anton Yelchin is made even more tragic after witnessing the importance of Chekov's presence in this third outing. He's given a lot of screen time and is one of the players that contributes more to the entire story.

I was impressed how writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung fit in a couple very nice tributes to the original cast of “Star Trek.” Leonard Nimoy is definitely paid respect through a small side story that weaves through the bigger tale. Another scene will no doubt pull the heartstrings of older Trekkies who grew up watching the first television show and classic crew.

My only real complaint is that Director Justin Lin didn't give orders to the cameraman to pan out and visibly show two individuals fighting clearly on the screen. Cinematographer Stephen F. Windon's obsession with shooting hand-to-hand combat close up makes it hard to figure out what you're looking at. Much of this is also the fault of quick cuts in editing that makes the action a big garbled chaotic mess.

Interestingly, "Star Trek Beyond" shares some familiar traits with one of "The Next Generation" movies. There are some definite parallels between "Beyond" and "Insurrection". I don't want to go into detail with spoilers, but longtime fans will make the connection.

“Star Trek Beyond” is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence. There’s also some profanity used throughout the movie. Overall, it’s no different than the first two movies. The adult situations have actually toned down a bit.

Aside from some cinematography issues addressed above, "Star Trek Beyond" takes viewers on an exhilarating voyage into the next chapter of a classic franchise which was granted a new lease on life. A quality mixture of blockbuster action and genuine science fiction makes for a two hour trip out of this world. We might be going where we have gone before, but we’ll still have some fun on the way.