Simon Pegg

Review: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Star Trek Beyond
2016

© Paramount Pictures

© Paramount Pictures

When J.J. Abrams took the helm of The Force Awakens, Star Wars fans around the world rejoiced. Having seen what he had done with reinvigorating the Star Trek franchise, many believed him to be the perfect fit for George Lucas's universe. Trekkers, on the other hand, started to worry about their beloved franchise that Abrams had brought back from the brink. For the first time in years, it seemed as though Star Trek could be a viable film franchise, but with their director's departure, it let the series in a state of limbo. A number of names were tossed into consideration for the job, but no one knew whether Abrams's successor could bring the same quality of film that the previous two installments had brought. 

Star Trek Beyond follows the continuing adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise, led by the fearless Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine). Three years deep into their five-year mission, Kirk has started to grow tired with his life in space and looks to seat himself behind a desk for the remainder of his career. When a distress signal sends he and his crew into the depths of a nebula, the Enterprise is suddenly and deliberately attacked by an alien force led by the evil Krall (Idris Elba). Stranded on an uncharted without a ship, Kirk and his crew must improvise to the best of their abilities to escape their captivity and return to the Federation. In the process, however, they soon learn that Krall's plot may spell doom for the entire galaxy. 

The success of the first two films ensured that the franchise would need a fitting replacement in the director's chair. The studio ultimately landed on Justin Lin, who brought an eye for action from the Fast and the Furious franchise. Would he be able to juggle that grounded, streetcar action with the sci-fi element so desperately needed in the Star Trek universe? Fortunately, Lin was blessed with a solid screenplay from Doug Jung and Simon Pegg which surely helped him in his endeavors. 

Star Trek has long been the franchise that delves into intelligent science fiction with a solid basis of social commentary. While I feel as though these movies have strayed a bit from the latter, they have still offered fans their legitimate dose of sci-fi, even if the ships and gadgets don't wow us the way they must have amazed audiences in the 1960s. Jung and Pegg easily slide into this vein, bringing a story rife with action, drama, and a true sense of adventure. The story itself kept me guessing, and I was so engrossed with the film that I found myself shocked with some of the twists and turns it took. That's a true testament to the filmmakers' storytelling ability. What really sets this franchise apart, however, is its ability to craft complete and believable characters. While most of these characters have a long and storied history through the television show and the previous films, but I believe that these characters have adapted for the grander universe in which they now live, bringing slightly different nuances to the table. This installment also felt much more team-oriented than its predecessors; while the last two films centered around the Kirk and Spock characters, Beyond gave the rest of the cast the opportunity to show off their character's individual skill sets. If Justin Lin brought anything over from the Furious franchise, it was the ability to demonstrate effectively the best qualities of a team through its individual members. We definitely get a sense of that with Star Trek Beyond. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto have their screen-time but don't dominate the story; instead, we get to see a little bit more of Pegg's Scotty, Karl Urban's McCoy, Zoe Saldana's Uhura, John Cho's Sulu, and Anton Yelchin's Chekov as they play integral roles in saving the galaxy from destruction. 

I could easily spend plenty of time on the cast's effectiveness within their individual roles, but most of the returning players meet the splendid status quo they have achieved in the past two films. Instead, I want to focus on the franchise newcomers in Sofia Boutella and Idris Elba. Boutella, who most might remember from her supporting role as an assassin in last year's Kingsman, does a fantastic job playing opposite Montgomery Scott for most of the film's duration. She brings to life a multifaceted character who is given plenty of time to showcase her incredible physical prowess while still delving into slightly dramatic moments while talking about her character's past. Elba, who has been all over the cinematic map this year, takes on the nefarious villain Krall and does so incredibly effectively. Despite being hidden beneath layers of makeup, Elba still manages to bring a menacing ferocity to the character and just might cement himself as the best villain in this particular saga. 

I do want to take a moment to mention the two members of the Star Trek family have passed since the release of 2013's Into Darkness. The legendary Leonard Nimoy, who originated the Spock character and reprised him in these most recent films, was given a fitting sendoff, and the filmmakers used their love and admiration for him as a sort of springboard for Zachary Quinto's Spock in this film. The world more recently lost the young Anton Yelchin, and it proved to be incredibly difficult for me to watch him on the screen knowing that we would never be able to see just how far his potential would take him. I felt as though his character receives more screen-time in Beyond than he had in the previous installments which I believe is a testament to the fact that his star power was on the rise. The two received simple but fitting tributes as the credits rolled, and I personally had to hold back the waterworks as their names flashed by. While there will be more posthumous performances from the young Yelchin, seeing him one last time in the biggest of his adventures solidified his place in Hollywood lore. 

While I can't quite say that this is the best entry in the newest Star Trek saga, Beyond serves as an incredibly enjoyable film from start to finish. Justin Lin picks up exactly where J.J. Abrams left off, and Star Trek fans should have faith with the direction the franchise now seems to be heading. If you're looking for a smart, exciting, and adventurous blockbuster, you'd be hard-pressed to find something better than Star Trek Beyond playing in theaters right now. 


The Shaunies, 2011

Below is a list of the nominees and winners (in bold) from the 2011 Shaunie Awards. Enjoy!


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Attack the Block
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Source Code
Super 8
X-Men: First Class

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
Guillaume Schiffman, The Artist
Larry Fong, Super 8
Manuel Alberto Claro, Melancholia
Newton Thomas Sigel, Drive

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Bret McKenzie, "Man or Muppet," The Muppets
Carlinhos Brown & Siedah Garrett, "Fly Love," Rio
Damon Thomas, Harvey Mason Jr., Mary J. Blige, & Thomas Newman, "The Living Proof," The Help
David Thum & John Thum, "Rango," Rango
Zooey Deschanel, "So Long," Winnie the Pooh

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Alexandre Desplat, The Tree of Life
Hans Zimmer, Rango
Howard Shore, Hugo
Ludovic Bource, The Artist
Thomas Newman, The Help

BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE
Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes

John Cleese, Winnie the Pooh
Seth Rogen, Paul
Simon Pegg, The Adventures of Tintin
Werner Herzog, Cave of Forgotten Dreams

BEST YOUNG STAR
Alex Shaffer, Win Win
Amara Miller, The Descendants
Elle Fanning, Super 8
Hunter McCracken, The Tree of Life
Saoirse Ronan, Hanna

BEST DIRECTORIAL DEBUT
Eli Craig, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
George Nolfi, The Adjustment Bureau
James Bobin, The Muppets
Joe Cornish, Attack the Block
Nick Tomnay, The Perfect Host

BEST CAST
Contagion
Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Drive
The Help
Midnight in Paris

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Charlotte Gainsbourg, Melancholia
Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life
Marion Cotillard, Midnight in Paris
Octavia Spencer, The Help

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Albert Brooks, Drive
Ben Kingsley, Hugo
Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Paul Giamatti, The Ides of March

BEST ACTRESS
Jodie Foster, Carnage
Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Viola Davis, The Help

BEST ACTOR
Christoph Waltz, Carnage
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
Paul Giamatti, Win Win
Ryan Gosling, Drive

BEST SCREENPLAY
Aaron Sorkin & Steven Zaillian, Moneyball
Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, & Nat Faxon, The Descendants
Beau Willimon, George Clooney, & Grant Heslov, The Ides of March
Roman Polanski & Yasmina Reza, Carnage
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

BEST DIRECTOR
Bennett Miller, Moneyball
Lars von Trier, Melancholia
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

BEST PICTURE
The Artist
Carnage

Drive
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life

The Shaunies, 2007

Below is a list of the nominees and winners (in bold) from the 2007 Shaunie Awards. Enjoy!


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
300
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Transformers


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Eric Gautier, Into the Wild
Hagen Bogdanski, The Lives of Others
Janusz Kaminski, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood
Roger Deakins, No Country for Old Men

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Alan Menken & Stephen Schwarz, "So Close," Enchanted
Charles Stan Frazier & Steve Fox, "Into Yesterday," Surf's Up
Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová, "Falling Slowly," Once
Gore Verbinski, Hans Zimmer, Ted Elliott, & Terry Rossio, "Hoist the Colours," Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Jake Kasdan, John C. Reilly, Judd Apatow, & Marshall Crenshaw, "Walk Hard," Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Alan Menken, Enchanted
Harry Gregson-Williams, Gone Baby Gone
Michael Giacchino, Ratatouille
Mychael Danna, Surf's Up
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE
Albert Brooks, The Simpsons Movie
Jeff Bridges, Surf's Up
Julie Andrews, Enchanted
Justin Timberlake, Shrek the Third
Peter O'Toole, Ratatouille

BEST YOUNG STAR
Dillon Freasier, There Will Be Blood
Ed Sanders, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Kristen Stewart, Into the Wild
Marcus Carl Franklin, I'm Not There.
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement

BEST DIRECTORIAL DEBUT
Ben Affleck, Gone Baby Gone
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others
J.A. Bayona, The Orphanage
Goran Dukic, Wristcutters: A Love Story
Scott Frank, The Lookout

BEST CAST
American Gangster
I'm Not There.

Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men
Superbad

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Allison Janney, Juno
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There.
Marie-Josée Croze, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale, I'm Not There.
Ed Harris, Gone Baby Gone
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood
Russell Crowe, 3:10 to Yuma

BEST ACTRESS
Amy Adams, Enchanted
Belén Rueda, The Orphanage
Ellen Page, Juno
Keira Knightley, Atonement
Laura Linney, The Savages

BEST ACTOR
Brad Pitt, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Denzel Washington, American Gangster
Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

BEST SCREENPLAY
Aaron Stockard & Ben Affleck, Gone Baby Gone
Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg, Hot Fuzz
Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others
Oren Moverman & Todd Haynes, I'm Not There.

BEST DIRECTOR
Andrew Dominik, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
John Carney, Once
Sean Penn, Into the Wild
Todd Haynes, I'm Not There.

BEST PICTURE
Gone Baby Gone
I'm Not There.

The Lives of Others
No Country for Old Men
Once

The Shaunies, 2004

Below is the list of nominees and winners (in bold) for the 2004 Shaunie Awards. Enjoy!


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
The Day After Tomorrow
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I, Robot
Spider-Man 2
Troy

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
David M. Dunlap, Shaun of the Dead
Dion Beebe & Paul Cameron, Collateral
Ellen Kuras, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Oliver Wood, The Bourne Supremacy
Tobias A. Schliessler, Friday Night Lights

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Adam Duritz, Dan Vickrey, David Bryson, David Immerglück, & Matthew Malley, "Accidentally in Love," Shrek 2
Alan Silvestri & Glen Ballard, "Believe," The Polar Express
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart, & Richard Stilgoe, "Learn to Be Lonely," The Phantom of the Opera
Cynthia Weil & James Horner, "Remember," Troy
Trey Parker, "America, Fuck Yeah," Team America: World Police

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Brian Reitzell, David Torn, & Explosions in the Sky, Friday Night Lights
Howard Shore, The Aviator
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, Finding Neverland
Jon Brion, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Michael Giacchino, The Incredibles

BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE
Alan Tudyk, I, Robot
Antonio Banderas, Shrek 2
Bill Kurtis, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Jason Lee, The Incredibles
Tom Hanks, The Polar Express

BEST YOUNG STAR
C.J. Sanders, Ray
Freddie Highmore, Finding Neverland
Jeffrey Lorenzo, Starsky & Hutch
Khleo Thomas, Walking Tall
Makenzie Vega, Saw

BEST DIRECTORIAL DEBUT
Adam McKay, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Larry Blamire, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
Matthew Ryan Hoge, The United States of Leland
Shane Carruth, Primer
Zach Braff, Garden State

BEST CAST
Anchorman: The LEgend of Ron Burgundy
The Aviator
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Shaun of the Dead

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Kirsten Dunst, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Naomi Watts, I Heart Huckabees
Regina King, Ray
Tina Fey, Mean Girls

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
Nick Frost, Shaun of the Dead
Peter Sarsgaard, Garden State
Steve Carell, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Thomas Haden Church, Sideways

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Natalie Portman, Garden State
Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda

BEST ACTOR
Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda
Jamie Foxx, Ray
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator
Paul Giamatti, Sideways
Tom Cruise, Collateral

BEST SCREENPLAY
Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
David Magee, Finding Neverland
Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead
Shane Carruth, Primer
Stuart Beattie, Collateral

BEST DIRECTOR
Edgar Wright, Shaun of the Dead
Martin Scorsese, The Aviator
Michael Mann, Collateral
Michel Gondry, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Peter Berg, Friday Night Lights

BEST PICTURE
Collateral
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Friday Night Lights
The Incredibles
Shaun of the Dead