This review contains some spoilers for "Star Trek: Beyond." It was originally published on TrekZone.org.
I can safely say that J.J. Abrams stepping down from the hands-on approach was the best decision made. He's a Star Wars kind of guy and we needed a movie that appeases both the Trekkies and the casual moviegoers, and Simon Pegg delivered that in spades here.
For the first time since 2009, I'm able to accept the Kelvin Timeline — yes it's different and weird and unique, but Simon and fellow writer Doug Jung makes it wonderful and exactly like the original series (although you have to allow for 50 years worth of changes, like female characters that actually take charge and get the job done, and no more Technicolor wonderscapes or redresses of standing sets to save money).
I had publicly said I didn't like the blowing up of the USS Enterprise again, but this time it didn't seem like a plot device. It was actually a means to do away with what had been before and start fresh. Will there be more movies?
After sitting through an almost cringe-worthy opening scene involving a trinket that a small reptilian species finds offensive instead of the gift it was intended to be, we listen to Kirk's captain's log from Chris Pine and I get the sense that this Kelvin Timeline has changed ... for the better. Not only has our crew spent the better part of three years out in deep space exploring those strange new worlds, but it's now time for R&R at the new star base. It's such an original series episode opening.
The star base is an enormous monstrosity that takes many design cues from its filming location (of Dubai), and throws in some Star Trek elements to glitz it up. The reported beat up of the "Sulu is gay" storyline starts and wraps here as John Cho's Hikaru greets his daughter and partner (husband?) with a hug reminiscent of a weary sailor returning to port. Meanwhile Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) break up in a very calm manner before our science officer is approached by two Vulcans who make it seem like they're the people you try and avoid at the train station who want to talk about God.
Spock learns of the passing of Ambassador Spock in a very quiet and somber scene, eloquently painted by director Justin Lin with an empty wide shot. Elsewhere, I'm reminded of the Wraith from "Stargate: Atlantis" with all of those smaller ships flying around annihilating the Enterprise. The movie "Star Trek: Generations" flashes before my eyes as the ship crashes on the planet.
It was nice to see the aliens in this movie struggle with English, getting the syntax wrong here and there. Sofia Boutella plays Jaylah with a certain amount of angry teenager-ism, battling those that killed her family and struggling to accept help from our heroes. And Idris Elba as Krall just seemed angry at the world — his origin story was an excellent nod to "Star Trek: Enterprise."
Without spoiling every plot detail, the ship the crew uses to escape the planet pays a nice homage to "Enterprise," whch so often gets overlooked. Some costumes are inspired by that era. Of course the Enterprise saves the day, but it was really nice to not have everything blow up this time around in the J.J.— err Kelvin Timeline.
Karl Urban injects the same dose of humor as DeForest Kelley did all those years ago, and you could really see the same Spock-McCoy relationship develop more fully in this installment. This Kirk, who didn't join Starfleet for the same reasons as William Shatner's edition, learned to accept his place in the fleet and everyone was happier for the experience. All around, I feel that Pegg and Lin have righted the listing ship and set sail for new adventures in the Kelvin Timeline.
And by the way, it was absolutely fantastic to see our two leading female characters in Uhura and Jaylah actually be characters in their own right, kicking butt and absolutely owning their environment and destiny. Finally, a movie where the heroine doesn't need a man to save her, and sexual attraction wasn't the motivation for the male characters to help them out.
"Star Trek: Beyond" was written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, and directed by Justin Lin. It stars Chis Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella.
It opens July 22.
Matthew Miller is editor of TrekZone, considered to be Australia's first Star Trek fan site, founded in 2003. Miller covered the Sydney premiere of "Star Trek: Beyond," which you can watch by clicking here.