There is no doubt that both Star Trek and Into Darkness were made to appeal to mainstream audiences, and that certain thematic elements of the original series had to be downplayed in order to make room for more space 'splosions. Taken for what they are, the first two reboots are fun, well made blockbusters even if they don't feel like Star Trek Movies.
Justin Lin (director), Simon Pegg (writer), and Doug Jung (writer/Sulu's husband?) have taken over the reigns of the series after J.J. Abrams went over to the dark side and directed Star Wars and they have managed to craft a film that works as an exciting blockbuster and actually captures the spirit of the original series.
Taking place roughly three years into the Enterprise's epic five year mission, the crew is markedly more mature in this outing. Gone is Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) the completely reckless, haughty little #@$!, and in his place is a man with discipline and decorum (who still manages to hold his own in a fight). Bones (Karl Urban) has fully grown in his role as Kirk's mentor/conscience, and Spock (Zachary Quinto) has become Kirk's anchor.
The story for this film plays out very similarly to plots seen in the original series with a ton of subtle fan service sprinkled throughout. It's abundantly clear that both Pegg and Jung have a deep and abiding love for Star Trek, and more importantly, they understand the heart of the series. The plot is predictable ( I guessed the big twist about thirty minutes in) but Justin Lin's fast-paced direction provides enough fun and thrills I didn't really mind.
Lin does an admirable job at keeping the filming clicking along at a brisk pace, never allowing the audience to grow to comfortable (i.e. bored), but at a cost. There are times when the action on the screen is so fast paced, and the visuals are so disorienting, I became lost and had a hard time piecing together what was actually happening. This only happened to me a couple times, and it wasn't enough to take me out of the movie completely, and to be honest the film had so many incredible visuals and action set pieces, the confusing action was quickly forgotten.
The one major issue I had with the film was the villain. He is utterly forgettable. The film's villain has little to no character development throughout the film. In fact the audience doesn't fully understand his motives until literally the last ten minutes of the film. This is slightly disappointing considering the fact that they had Idris Elba, an incredible actor who could have played a Kahn-level villain had he been better written. Sofia Boutella's Jayla, a new character sympathetic to the crew of the Enterprise suffers a similar fate.
The Wrap Up
+Great performances by Pine, Urban and Quinto
+Well written crew members
+A respect and love for the original series in the script
+Fun for mainstream audiences...
+...while still capturing the "Star Trek" feeling that was somewhat lacking in the other films.
+Subtle fan service
+Justin Lin's fast paced and exciting direction...
-...which sometimes devolves into a confusing mess
-Poorly written and executed villain
8 out of 10 - Awesome
It is no small feet, creating a film to appeal to the mainstream as well as diehard fans. I believe Beyond is that film. It's not perfect, but then what movie is? True, there are still things that will no doubt irk the truly diehard Trekies (like Kirk riding a motorcycle) but I stand by my statement that this film is more true to the spirit of the original than anything Trekies have got in the past decade. What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary?