Star Trek Beyond


This one is just fun.  This latest generation of the iconic characters have started to show their own chemistry, and it’s working well.   Too bad one of their number, Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov, recently met an untimely death.  The movie was dedicated to his memory, as well as the venerable Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock.

In this adventure, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) finds himself a little melancholy after several years in space.  It seems that it’s part of his personality to get restless if there’s not a crisis to attend to, and soon the plot indulges him.  A exhausted alien asks for help with rescuing her ship through the unchartered nebula, and Kirk can’t resist coming to the rescue of a damsel in distress, particularly another ship’s captain.  The trouble is, the “rescue operation” is a set-up:  she leads him right into the trap set by the evil Krall (Idris Elba), who manages to bring down the fabled ship “Enterprise” and capture most of its crew.

It’s the primary characters, of course, who manage to escape, and are soon plotting the rescue attempt of the rest of their crew, aided by another stranded ship’s captain, who’s gone native by hiding out in an older model Federation ship, which she’s managed to conceal by use of shape-shifting holograms.  That technology comes in handy as Kirk creates the distraction for Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) to free their crew and attempt to foil the dastardly plot of Krall, who intends to blow up a huge space station colony, just because he can.

Part of what makes the whole series so endearing, besides the adventurous spirit of “going where no one has gone before,” is the way the main characters are kind of their own emotional caricatures, and yet their interplay is dynamic:  Spock, half-human and half-Vulcan, tends toward the analytical, and has a hard time understanding anyone’s emotions, including his own.  Bones is the resident curmudgeon who’s nonetheless cool in a crisis, and so is Scotty, the irrepressible engineer who can fix everything and jerry-rig anything.  Kirk is the pure adventurer, an adrenalin freak who gets bored without a challenge, but all of them have developed an affection for each other, and recognize that that they are so much stronger as a crew, along with their trusted lieutenants, Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho). 

Krall, the enemy, has turned into a dangerous terrorist because he considers himself a “warrior” who thinks that unity is overrated, and solidarity is a Federation myth, and he’s determined to bring violence in order to prove his point that all is chaos, and only the strong survive.  It turns out that he himself is a former Federation captain who felt he was abandoned to his own devices, and so he now lives only for revenge and vindictiveness.

Of course we want to see our intrepid and noble crew of “The Enterprise” overcome all the evil and adversity, so they can embark on their next grand adventure.  We can’t wait.


Questions for Discussion:

1)  What people have you known who have exhibited the behavioral characteristics of the main characters in “Star Trek”?

2)   Does the motivation of the terrorist ring true?

3)   Do you think that someday we earthlings will explore space as a united Federation of Planets?

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association