This is a guest review by Elizabeth Jones. Follow her on twitter here.
I've been a Star Wars fan all my life. I cut my teeth on next generation and was lovingly introduced by my father to the Original Series, Voyager, and Deep Space 9. More than any other franchise, Star Trek shaped my view of science fiction, television, philosophy, and literature.
I was so excited when I heard that a reboot for Star Trek was in the works. However the first two movies in this series met with some disappointment from me. Although I found the first movie to be highly entertaining and enjoyable and a really interesting look at different generations and origins of the characters, it felt more like Star Wars or space cowboys or some generic space action movie than the Star Trek that I knew and loved.
Into Darkness, although it gave us a tall, dark, British villain (let's keep that trend going, guys) was even farther from my idea of a good Star Trek movie. It violated a lot of the core principles of the show and did not pay attention to the details of technology and character development that the fans of this franchise are so good at noticing. I was greatly disappointed in the movie and I felt like there was no place the franchise could go after that that would hook me in the way Star Trek usually does.
I was happily surprised.
Star Trek Beyond felt like Star Trek again. A little cheesy a little campy but it recaptured some of the philosophical and personal questions that the characters on the show often wrestled with: questions about self and purpose and fate and destiny and sacrifice.
It also revitalized some of the core characters, their interactions with each other, their behaviors, and their brilliance. I feel like it made the characters people again in a way that the second movie was never able to capture. We also see a more mature and controlled Kirk. He's not the selfish self-absorbed kid he was in the first movie or the brash young captain from the second. He's more introspective; he's more careful; he is willing to delegate important responsibilities to his crew and he trusts his crew to come through in a crisis. I felt like this depiction of Kirk was much more in keeping with the character of Kirk from the original series. It was lovely to see.
(Mild Spoilers Ahead) Early in the movie, one of the most significant parts for me was the destruction of the Starship Enterprise. There were a few little details like the escape pods for the bridge crew being named Kelvin pods after the ship in the first movie that Kirk’s father died on to let his crew escape. It was a lovely tie into the theme of fate and destiny as Kirk is put in the same position as his father. There was the emotional devastation of seeing the starship destroyed and potentially witnessing the loss of thousands of lives. It was beautiful and heartbreaking.
Beyond that the world felt more like the world is Star Trek. It was peopled with new and interesting and intelligent species that played many different roles. While some of the message of the movie seemed a bit on the nose, it was still an enjoyable and entertaining movie.
For most of the movie, the cinematography and camerawork was average. There were a couple absolutely spectacular scenes that definitely make me want to go back and rewatch this movie many times. I don’t consider this to be outstanding cinema or brilliant scriptwriting. But it was fun, engaging and it honored the source material, especially those from the original cast who have passed on.