*Thanks to Twitter teaching me about the beauty in brevity, I can sum up my feelings for the rousing new Star Trek Beyond with a simple sentence:
The Enterprise is in good hands.
Maybe not GREAT hands, as I think the movie may have been a little more coherent if director J.J.Abrams had stayed at the helm. But with his promotion — or demotion, depending on which team you’re on — to the Star Wars franchise, Justin Lin’s taken over and delivered a very, very good movie — not quite as good as the 2009 reboot, but better, actually, than Abrams’ 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness.
I pride myself on writing reviews that don’t give away plot points, but let me say keep your eye on EVERYONE in this film. Several characters aren’t quite what they appear.
One of the characters that wasn’t quite what I was expecting was Sulu, with so much having been written and said about his big reveal as a gay man. I’ve two things to say on that: first, blink and you’ll miss it. I’ll let one of the film’s stars speak for me on the second point:
“,,,[Sulu]’s family was portrayed really nonchalantly, which I liked,” John Cho, 44, who played Sulu in the new film, told the New York Times. “He wasn’t coming out of the closet.”
I liked it, too.
Lin’s taking a beloved character and revealing that side of himself spoke far more loudly and proudly than if the director had created a new, rainbow flag-waving character, as George Takei, the actor who originated the Sulu character, says he would have preferred. New generations of Star Trek fans will only know a Federation with a proud gay character, thanks to Cho’s powerful, understated performance.
With all due respect to Takei, who’s now an honored LGBT activist, he should get over it — and himself — and take a lesson from one of Sulu’s colleagues, Mr. Spock: the needs of the many by far outweigh the needs of the few..or one.
The new film also features an impressive turn by Idris Elba as the movie’s villain, Krall. Even buried under tons of prosthetic makeup, he evokes several chills as he goes toe to toe with Captain James T. Kirk, played once again to perfection by Chris Pine. We get a deeper peek into the romantic relationship between Uhura and Spock, played by Zoe Sandana and Zachary Quinto.
Speaking of Spock, the movie is lovingly dedicated, both in its narrative and its closing credits, to the late Leonard Nimoy, and is in memory of Anton Yelchin, who tragically died just before audiences got to see his excellent portrayal of Chekov in the film.
There were a couple of points where I got kind of lost in the story — but who cares? Plot exposition isn’t why I go see a movie like Star Trek Beyond. Action, phasers, transporters, space battles — they’re all there. I’d advise you to see it on as big a screen as possible. There are (at least) a couple of action sequences that are tailor-made for IMAX.
After seeing this new movie, I wasn’t surprised to read that Paramount had already given the green light to a fourth installment of the beloved franchise. Overall, Star Trek Beyond is a great romp.
Michael P Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelance writer who plans to live long and prosper. Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP