The trajectory of the Star Trek saga has been an odd one in recent years. The release of Star Trek Beyond in 2016 demonstrated a clear commitment to a more action-oriented aesthetic, having evolved out of J.J. Abrams’ 2009 franchise reboot. It’s that reboot though that stands apart from the rest of its modern contemporaries as a true Trek movie. Measured up against the likes of Star Trek Into Darkness and Beyond, there’s one obvious conclusion: The 2009 film is the best in that trilogy, and it’s not even close.
What is it that makes a truly great Star Trek movie? In order to get to the bottom of that, we need only to look at Abrams’ reboot effort. It’s never easy taking on an iconic franchise, putting your own original spin on it, and still managing to appeal to an incredibly outspoken built-in fanbase. Incidentally, Abrams has managed to do that twice, first with Star Trek in 2009, and again with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015. So let’s look at the former of those two and dig into just what it is that made the film what it was.