The consistently entertaining “Star Trek Beyond,” directed by Justin Lin, gives a good name to franchise fodder. The Star Trek movies have been a decidedly mixed bag, the best still being the 1982 “The Wrath of Khan.” But this new one manages to hold its own in the galaxy. Part of the reason for that is the way it works humor, often wry, into the slam-bang proceedings. In this, “Beyond” is closer to the original Gene Roddenberry TV incarnation than most of its filmic predecessors. This is a smart move: Funny makes everything better, even the frights.
The Enterprise is three years into its five-year deep-space mission when it has the misfortune to encounter Krall (the suitably fearsome Idris Elba), a reptilian-looking alien lusting after a “death machine” artifact in the possession of Captain Kirk and Co. Until that little matter is resolved, deep space is chockablock with mega-explosions, and the Enterprise crew find themselves marooned without a spaceship on a barren and unfriendly planet.
The Star Trek stalwarts are once again headed by Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg, who also co-wrote the film with Doug Jung), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin, who died, at 27, two months ago, and to whom the film is dedicated; in addition, there is an “In Loving Memory” citation for Leonard Nimoy).
The actors work so well together that they reinforce the series’ central appeal: This crew is like family. A newcomer – Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), a sexy, zebra-faced alien with a full arsenal of martial arts moves – would be a welcome addition for future installments. And I do hope there will be many more future installments. I’d like to spend more time with these folks. Grade: B+ (Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.)