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article imageReview: Star Trek Beyond continues to boldly go Special

By Tim Sandle     Jul 22, 2016 in Entertainment
The third Star Trek movie on the alternate timeline has been released this week and it continues in the good vein of the previous two offerings. This movie has a more 'episodic' structure and this allows for a more character-driven story.
Star Trek Beyond is the latest in the alternate timeline Star Trek movies (and the thirteenth Star Trek movie.) The events take place during the five-year mission of the USS Enterprise, captained by James T. Kirk, taking place within the calendar as depicted in the original 1960s series (although along an alternative timeline.)
The new movie is directed by by Justin Lin from a screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung. The movie reunites Chris Pine, Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto, with the other series regulars returning. Pegg's script is witty and he resists the temptation to give a bigger role to his own character Montgomery Scott.
The villain this time around is played by Idris Elba, although the Luther actor isn't especially recognizable until the latter stages of the movie. Elba plays a villain who questions whether the Federation is a force for good or not, adding a moral dilemma to the more usual acceptance that the Federation in the Star Trek universe is made up of (mostly) good guys.
Movie theater prop for  Star Trek Beyond.
Movie theater prop for 'Star Trek Beyond.'
Aside from Elba there is one other major character introduced, superbly played by Algerian actor Sofia Boutella. The character is an alien warrior called Jaylah.
The story begins with the USS Enterprise three years into its five-year mission. The ship goes into an uncharted nebula where it is attacked and the crew are forced to explore an M-class planet. The story then unfolds and no more can be said without divulging key plot points — except the the Beastie Boys’ song "Sabotage" has a pivotal role in the unfolding narrative.
A shade of sadness hangs over the movie; one part is intentional, the other framed by circumstances that took place after the movie was completed. The first is the death of classic Trek actor Leonard Nimoy, which is nicely handled within the structure of the movie. The second is the untimely death of one of the main cast. Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov, was tragically killed in a car accident in June (as reported by Digital Journal at the time.) Yelchin plays a key role in the movie and Star Trek Beyond serves as a fitting tribute.
One aspect of the movie that received mixed publicity was the decision to make the character of Sulu, played by John Cho, "gay." In the event this shown in a rather low-key way. True, it advances the Star Trek ethos of diversity, but it doesn't exactly advance diversity in movies significantly, despite George Takei's remonstration.
The movie whips along at a fast pace, with pauses to allow for strong character development. There's a conscious effort to cement the relationship between Kirk, Spock and McCoy, much in the same way as with the original series. The only downside is that the "science" in "science-fiction" isn't given much explanation — the movie is more space opera than science fiction. Star Trek has always been forward looking in terms of its science concepts.
The movie appears to have gone down well on social media. The Mary Sue (@TheMarySue) says it moves at "warp speed." MTV (@MTV) notes "Beyond Boldly Goes Faster And More Furious."
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