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Forward: I was horrified to learn of the passing of Anton Yelchin, who was killed in an accident on June 19th. In addition to being one of the best young actors in the business, Yelchin was by all accounts a very genuine guy who was spoken highly of by many in the industry. I give my condolences to Yelchin’s family and encourage all my readers to check out Yelchin’s impressive body of work.  

In a summer full of disappointments, Star Trek Beyond emerges as a blast of fun and adventure, a big, fun summer adventure with a ton of heart and humor. In it’s fifty year history, the Star Trek franchise continues to expand due to its great characters, and Beyond relishes in its brilliant character interactions and witty dialogue. Star Trek Beyond feels like a throwback to the original series, an episodic adventure that adds in modernized characterizations of the iconic crew.

Three years into the five-year mission, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise has been stranded upon a distant planet. James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), and Uhura (Zoe Saldana), alongside their new ally Jayla (Sofia Boutello), find themselves at the mercy of the villainous alien Krall (Idris Elba), and face their personal demons as they seek to defend the free world. The plot is brilliantly simple, and the simplicity allows the film to focus on its characters, giving each character a place within the ensemble.

In his third outing as Kirk, Chris Pine delivers his most mature and grounded performance as Kirk, showing a matured leader that still has the fun mannerisms that echo William Shatner. Zachary Quinto is once again remarkable as Spock, this time allowing the character to struggle with his mortality. In beefed up roles, Karl Urban and Simon Pegg do much more than add comic relief, bringing a character depth that gives the film much of its heart.

As for Yelchin, Saldana, and Cho, their roles are smaller, as much of their development was wrapped in the previous films, but they still excel in their scenes. The cast truly does the impossible; following up iconic performances while still delivering their own interpretations. As for the new additions, Sofia Boutello is perfect as the heroic Jayla, and Idris Elba gives a delightfully evil performance as the evil Krall, and though its a step down from Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness, the character does have some fun twists.

Star Trek Beyond is a solid addition to the franchise that’s led half a century, and provides hope for its future while giving more than a few references to its past. Its perfectly relevant, yet devoid of cynicism, a perfectly modern blockbuster that feels delightfully old-fashioned. Grade: -A