Star Trek Beyond, Fast & Furious director Justin Lin's take on the beloved space franchise (no, not Star Wars, the other one) has just been released in theaters, and reviews have been pouring in along with lists of Easter Eggs to look out for. But while the latest installment of the Star Trek franchise is basically a love letter to fans, there's nothing to be afraid of if you don't count yourself among the aforementioned devotees to Star Trek.
Sure, there's been more than a dozen television series, films, comics and games featuring Gene Roddenberry's beloved universe, and that means you might want to know how exactly Star Trek Beyond fits into that galaxy of content. But even without diving into a black hole of Wikipedia pages and fan forums, there's plenty of reasons for you to enjoy Star Trek Beyond even if you're not a Trekkie — just to be clear, that's what you call a Star Trek fan. Nothing to do with trekking.
What You Need To Know About The Plot And The Characters — Spoiler-Free
The plot of Beyond is pretty simple: There's a ship, called the USS Enterprise, that gets sent on a rescue mission into an unknown part of space — and then things go wrong, obviously. What's the Enterprise, you might ask? One of the most iconic ships of the Star Trek universe, the NCC-1701 Enterprise is at the center of the new trilogy including Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and Star Trek Beyond (2016).
In the last movie, its captain is James T. Kirk, played by Chris Pine: A nice dude who used to be a bit of a rebel but is now respected by his crew, and who is great buddies with Spock, this dude below with the strange haircut and the pointy ears. He talks a bit strangely because he's half human, half Vulcan, and Vulcans don't favor emotions. They're also the ones who created that hand salute where you split your fingers in the middle! Now you know.
Star Trek Beyond Is The Perfect Time To Get Started With Star Trek, Because It Goes Back To The Roots Of The Franchise
What about the quality of the movie, though? Obviously, you'll decide for yourself if you deem the movie worthwhile, but here's why you can definitely enjoy Star Trek Beyond without any encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek. The main reason is that Lin's approach to the franchise was essentially how some people clear a cluttered desk: Shove everything onto the floor, then stack it all up again.
As Lin told Wired, he knew his pitch had to be bold enough to convince producer J. J. Abrams to welcome him on board, so he suggested destroying the ship that carried it all — if you're following, that ship I'm talking about is the Enterprise. In a way, jumping in when Star Trek is getting rid of the clutter and going back to its roots is the best moment to get hooked.
It's the perfect introduction: Star Trek Beyond focuses on the most essential of its characters, giving you enough time with each of them for you to want to get to know them better. The callbacks to previous movies are obviously numerous, but because the villain is brand new, you'll get what it's about. And the message is as clear as it's relevant: Standing united while valuing our differences is how humanity should go about building the future. Arguably, the plot is too linear, but Beyond has one last card to draw: At the end of the day, it's also a pretty awesome space movie.
Star Trek Beyond Is Also, Quite Simply, A Beautiful Product
Do yourself a favor, get the IMAX and 3D package, and you'll get to fully appreciate Lin's blockbuster talent. The main in-flight battle is breathtaking and will appeal to any spaceship nerd out there. As for the action, the sight alone of Chris Pine in space pajamas driving a vintage motorcycle on an alien planet is worth the watch.
In short? Star Trek Beyond isn't necessarily a cinematic masterpiece — the villain's motives are so generic that we only forgive him because he's played by Idris Elba — but it's a great summer movie and maybe your first step into the Star Trek universe!
Will you go see Star Trek Beyond? If you already had the chance to watch it, what did you think?