We didn't mean to see Star Trek Beyond (2016) on the same weekend as X-Men: Apocalypso. Two brand-new blockbusters, third of their trilogies. We would usually space them out a little, but that's the way Netflix "Very Long Wait" works - pays your money, takes your chances.
It starts with a jokey scene, with Kirk trying to negotiate a treaty with some belligerent aliens. It doesn't go that well, and you think it's just a gag opening, like the mud-face aliens at the start of Into Darkness. But it actually introduces us to the McGuffin (oh, spoiler, I guess).
When they go to answer a distress call, they find themselves in an ambush (gee, when has that ever happened?). The enemy is a swarm of small, heavily armored one-man ships, who force the Enterprise to crash on a nearby planet. On the planet several groups of crew members have to fight locals, the enemy and the planet to get back to the remains of the ship. Kirk and Chekov meet up with a cute, punky alien named Jayla (after Jennifer Lawrence), played by Sofia Boutella.
I don't want to get into the plot, but I have to mention Starbase Yorktown, a totally cool orbital city in a bubble, with lots of skycrapers set at all angles due to artificial gravity. A great set piece for the last 1/4 (1/3?) of the film.
Once again, my favorite part of this Star Trek series is how well they get the characters. In particular, Karl Urban really nails McCoy's grumpiness. But everyone has just the right touch. Zachary Quinto as Spock spends a bit of time mourning the death of Ambassador Spock - himself from a different timeline (the original series timeline, where Vulcan didn't blow up). It's especially sweet because it is really Quinto mourning the death of the originator of his role, and his mentor, Leonard Nimoy.
Chris Pines' Kirk nature has eluded me up until now, but I think I got it even before he started zooming around on an antique motorcycle. That was presumably director Justin Lin's hat-tip to the Fast and Furious series. John Cho has a few nice moments as Sulu, including a quick meeting with his husband and daughter. Anton Yelchin gets his "little old lady from Leningrad" line in, updated a bit. He has sadly passed on, and I think Chekov won't be seen on the Enterprise again soon. Ah well, he missed the first season of the original series, as well.
And of course, writer Simon Pegg gets some sweet scenes as Scotty. It might have just been me, but I thought this was a slightly silly entry in the series. Like when someone starts playing the Beastie Boys, and Bones calls it "classical music".
All in all, very satisfying. I understand that there are at least a few more in the pipeline. I'm in.