BY ROGER THOMAS
In May of 2013, I wrote a review of the “Star Trek: Into Darkness.”
That film was the second production using all the original characters from the “sixties” series, with a completely different cast of actors playing those iconic roles. I wrote nice things about “Into Darkness.” It was a good film.
In that review, I also wrote a lot of things about the five television series and the collection of motion pictures Paramount Studios has produced. For the record, I said in that review “Deep Space Nine” is the best “Star Trek” series ever, and I stand by that. However, I am a huge fan of all of it.
Yes, there have been some weak films through the years, and some episodes of the five series stand out as classics while others are less engaging. But in the end, “Star Trek” has contributed much entertainment and many ideas through the years.
“Star Trek Beyond” is the 12th Star Trek film. Who would have thought a television series that only lasted three years back in the late 1960s would ultimately last 50 years and produce a series of films that continue to attract crowds of people.
Many have pondered whether it is the optimism of the future that has made these stories stand and grow through five decades. I think that does play a role in the success. However, ultimately there are many reasons why Star Trek has “lived long and prospered.”
One thing I have not written before is that when I was a child watching the original series and when “The Next Generation” came along in 1987, I always had one consistent criticism. I wanted the crew to go to more planets. Episodes that were centered on the “Enterprise” or later “Voyager” were often lacking in excitement compared to the episodes when the characters actually explored “strange new worlds” and sought “new life and new civilizations,” boldly going “where no one has gone before.”
I am happy to say, the greatest strength of the new film, “Star Trek Beyond,” is all the major characters spend most of their time on a new world. They actually go to a strange world and have to survive there. For that one reason, I endorse the film.
There are several other strengths. All the major characters have important roles in the story. The crew-members get split up once they arrive on a strange planet, and there are many interesting and sometimes amusing conversations between the various players who are paired together.
The humor and story are assets to the film. And so also are the performances of the actors. For three films, this cast has played iconic figures and in each film, the actors have re-invented their roles while being reverent to the originals.
Beyond the Enterprise crew, there are several alien characters that are quite complicated. The leader of the villains is especially intriguing. What is he trying to do and why is he doing it?
The film looks great, especially the scenes in space. As I say often these days, “Special effects artists can do anything.”
Occasionally, the plot is a bit complicated and the film moves at a very fast rate often. I definitely think one would enjoy it more a second time when there would be less to digest. Other than that, I have no real complaints.
If you are fan of the series, and especially if you are like me and remember watching the reruns throughout childhood, this is the film for you. If you never liked “Star Trek” there is a very slim chance that you will care for the film.
As for me, I found much to enjoy.
Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.