Monday, August 08, 2016

Movie Monday: Star Trek Beyond

We actually went to the theater two weeks ago. That used to be an extremely rare occasion - maybe once a year - but we have been trying to get out a bit more. Cinemark theaters nationwide have Discount Tuesdays, where all movies (except 3D) all day are just $5.25 (which seems a whole lot more reasonable to me), so we try to take advantage of that. Two weeks ago, my husband and I went to see Star Trek Beyond and absolutely loved it!

Star Trek Beyond picks up where Star Trek Into Darkness left off, as the third in the prequel Star Trek movies featuring young versions of crew on the original Star Trek TV series. The Enterprise is in the third year of its 5-year exploration mission when it stops at a huge space station called Starbase Yorktown for resupply and shore leave. What the rest of the crew doesn't know is that Captain Kirk, played by Chris Pine, is thinking of giving up command of the Enterprise and has applied for the job of Vice Admiral of Yorktown. He has recommended Spock, played by Zachary Quinto, for the captain's job, and is trying to figure out how to tell him. Meanwhile, Kirk doesn't realize that Spock is also thinking of leaving the Enterprise, after getting the upsetting news that Ambassador Spock (who, I believe, is him in the future, right?) has died. He is also trying to figure out how to tell Kirk of his decision.

While on leave, though, an emergency comes up, and the Enterprise is called upon to cut its leave short to respond. A female named Kalara has come to the Starbase on an escape pod and says that her ship and shipmates are stranded on a nearby planet called Altamid. After a harrowing journey through an asteroid field, the Enterprise arrives on the planet to investigate, with Kalara along. As you might expect, things don't go quite as planned, and there are plenty of surprises awaiting the Enterprise crew on this strange planet.

My husband and I both really enjoyed this movie. Of course, it is filled with sci fi action, adventure, and thrills, but it also has plenty of humor and emotional drama in it, too. That's kind of Star Trek's modus operandi, right? We both thought that these younger actors did a fabulous job of capturing the essence of the characters from the original show, even more so than in the first two prequels. In fact, that's where some of the humor comes from, if you watched the original, in hearing those quintessential Star Trek lines, like Bones saying, "Damn it, Kirk, that will never work!" or Scotty calling, "I'm givin' it all she's got, Captain!" They all really hit those familiar characters perfectly.

In fact, the way my husband described the movie as we were walking out was, "It was like one of the best episodes of the original TV show, only movie-length." I see that Richard Roper said almost the exact same thing in his review! Both my husband and Roper meant it as the highest compliment. I wasn't quite as big a fan of the original series as my husband, though I watched it often enough with my family on Friday nights (in repeats by then). The two of us together watched - and loved - Star Trek Next Generation in the 80's and 90's. So, this was right up our alley.

For those who are not as "into" Star Trek, there is still a lot to like in this movie - it's an action-packed sci fi adventure with a great sense of humor (I really don't like action movies without humor!). But for those fans like us who have watched it for decades, it is an especially fun ride, filled with little nods and winks to the original while also adding a whole new intriguing story to the canon. Note that this was the last Star Trek movie for Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov, since he recently died in a car crash; the film was dedicated to his memory.

Star Trek Beyond is currently in theaters, with its DVD scheduled for release in November 2016 (probably to coincide with its availability on streaming services). This is a great one to see on the big screen, if you can manage it.

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