As someone who despised both Star Trek ’09 and Into
Darkness, Beyond was a welcomed respite in a series that had continually
failed to impress. Generally, the first two films aren’t
regarded too negatively, but there was always something about their
relationship to the source material that felt uncooperative, or even natural.
In the first film, the characters are overstated to comical proportions, completely misrepresenting the efforts of their predecessors, and the general tone is so generic you’d be forgiven for thinking the movie was called “Space Adventure”, or “Adventures In Space”. Worse still: the plot is so riddled with holes it can barely keep its feet, and while some of the cast are managing some decent impersonations, nothing about the movie feels genuine.
Somehow, Into Darkness was worse, and managed to get nearly everything wrong. For one thing, the tone was so dreary, and generally depressive that it barely felt like a Star Trek movie, which is surprising when you consider how extensively (and shamelessly) the film borrows from previous entries in the franchise, notably Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Add to that an incomprehensible plot about super clones, and you’ve got yourself an underwhelming movie, and some fairly low expectations for the sequel.
Perhaps as a direct result, Star Trek Beyond had a tough time from the get-go, but it somehow managed to impress in some substantial ways, and more importantly improve on both Star Trek and Into Darkness.
10. New Characters, New Faces
Star Trek: The Original Series would constantly
introduce new characters, as well as countless alien races, each of which was
invented to serve a very particular purpose. Sometimes, the secondary cast would feature more prominently than the regular crew, and were more
important to the story, and generally more interesting, well-rounded characters.
Unfortunately, Star Trek ’09 was predominantly concerned with reintroducing familiar faces, such as Captain James T. Kirk, and Mr. Spock. Naturally, this made sense at the time, seeing as how audiences needed to become reacquainted with those characters. However, Into Darkness essentially made the same mistake, failing to create anything new, and relying wholeheartedly on established images, and already recognisable characters.
Star Trek Beyond feels remarkably fresh, successfully introducing countless original alien designs, and having the story revolve around an entirely new character, Jaylah. As a result, Beyond manages to avoid the mistakes of previous instalments, cultivating its own unique sense of personality without having to rely on the same handful of tired concepts.