Review: Star Trek Beyond, B+
Rated PG-13, 122 minutes
Stardate 7/22/16. This in from the Captain's Log: the latest installment of the Star Trek saga, "Star Trek Beyond" is an entertainingly reliable, crowd-pleasing affair, and a notch above the serviceable but darker previous entry, 2013's "Star Trek Into Darkness." Fast-paced, funny and scary, the tone is a little lighter but should still please die-hard Trekkies and Non-Trekkies alike (including this non-Trekkie). A surprise attack in outer space forces the Enterprise to crash-land on a mysterious world. The assault is from Krall (a scowling and effective Idris Elba, continuing his terrific year), a mysterious 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 to destroy millions. 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. Directed by "Fast and the Furious'" Justin Lin and co-written by Simon Pegg ("Scotty") and Doug Jung, "Star Trek Beyond" is an unsurprising (when does Kirk not accomplish his mission?) but well-cast and enjoyable entry, with some fresh turns and some nice nods to the original (a photo cameo from Nimoy's Spock along with a photo of the original cast). It's also action-packed with a terrific, memorable baddie in the talented Elba, who is still pretty scary underneath that heavy mask he wears for most of the film and unlike his character, he breathes some new life into the film. Trekkies will enjoy this outing the most, and the names and places, along with the usual slang such as warp speed, Starfleet, beam me up and a few "Damn it's" from Bones (Karl Urban, in great form) are ever present, but it's also a nice, rollicking adventure with pleasing old school tactics and the handsome Pine, who is really making the Kirk role his own. The charming "Star Trek Beyond" pulls few, if any surprises, but it's a great ride, especially that breathless climax and a last-minute fight between Kirk and Krall, and the film is also heavily filled with some nice CGI. In an emotional coda for Trekkies, this is dedicated to two dearly departed "Star Trek" alumni, the original Spock Leonard Nimoy and the current Chekov, Anton Yelchin, who tragically and recently died. Go at warp speed (but carefully) to a movie theater near you to see the predictable but satisfying "Star Trek Beyond" so you can live long and prosper, until the next cinematic "Star Trek" chapter.