Paramount didn't screen Star Trek Beyond for Portland press—which, yeah, gave me an opportunity to write more generally about why Star Trek matters, but also meant that last night, a friend and I hit the first showing of Beyond in Portland, whooping and cheering along with a crowd that was fucking delighted. As they should have been: As Star Trek movies go, Beyond is just about perfect.
Thanks to Justin Lin's nimble direction, a pitch-perfect cast, and an adventurous script from Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, Star Trek Beyond nails the fun, goofy tone of the original series—and works so well in its own right that it ends up being one of the best entries in the 50-year-old franchise. It's smart, too, touching on themes that other blockbusters don't dare engage with—asymmetrical warfare, isolationism, idealism in the face of cynicism. (In 2016, this stuff feels more than a little topical.) Lin—yet again proving to be one of the sharpest directors working today—keeps Beyond balanced between smarts and spectacle, and also, god bless him, figures out how to shoehorn in a space motorcycle. More than anything else, though, Beyond is fun: a fast-paced, heartfelt, funny blockbuster that promises a bold future for Trek. Plus, it's the first Star Trek movie that actually gives Bones something to do! Bones! Bones is the best.