Throwback Thursday: Four Movies to Watch Before “Star Trek Beyond”

Charles Liu

This Friday, director Justin Lin’s “Star Trek Beyond” will embark on another adventure with the USS Enterprise just in time for “Star Trek”’s 50th anniversary. Before you boldly go where no one has gone before, check out four of these films to prepare for your journey.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The greatest “Star Trek” film is about loss. In this film, Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) is unhappily growing old at a desk job, yearning for his glorious space-faring days. When one of Kirk’s greatest foes, the superhuman Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán), resurfaces to exact his revenge, the crew of the Enterprise reunites to stop the villain. But winning will come at a price, and Kirk, who has always avoided defeat before, will learn the hard way that a triumphant victory is not always possible.

“Star Trek II” balances the original TV show’s introspective qualities with bigger action scenes and special effects sequences. The film requires more thought than most action flicks, and it remains the franchise’s most poignant story to this very day. Any celebration of “Star Trek”’s  50th anniversary wouldn’t be complete without a viewing of this classic.

Better Luck Tomorrow

Before Lin graduated to directing big-budget features, he got his break with “Better Luck Tomorrow,” a drama about Asian-American high schoolers.

The characters are stereotypical overachievers who focus heavily on academia and college applications. Unsatisfied with their lives and discouraged by the high expectations set by their parents, they become absorbed in a whirlwind of criminal activity and drug use that eventually spirals out of control.

Lin is a rare voice for Asian-American life in Hollywood, and “Better Luck Tomorrow” is an intimate critique of a culture that values success above genuine passion. The film shows off Lin’s ability to provide a fresh perspective on everyday situations, and a fresh perspective is exactly what a long-standing franchise like “Star Trek” needs.

Star Trek

This isn’t your dad’s “Star Trek” — unlike the thoughtful, slower TV series, J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” reboot is a fast-paced action adventure.

Abrams reimagines the classic crew of the starship Enterprise – including James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) – and pushes them into the final frontier with vigor and heart.

“Star Trek” blazes new trails while remaining respectful of the franchise’s lore, and its key performers, Pine and Quinto, are excellent successors to Shatner and Nimoy. The film’s greatest triumph, though, was that it successfully reintroduced “Star Trek” to a new generation of filmgoers. “Star Trek Beyond” is the continuation of this rebooted series, which remains one of Hollywood’s stronger re-dos.

Fast Five

“The Fast & the Furious” franchise kicked off as a street racing series that appealed to a niche group of filmgoers. With “Fast Five,” Lin revamped it into a sprawling action saga filled with humor and physics-defying mayhem.

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) are on the run after O’Conner breaks Toretto out of prison. The pair plans to do one last heist in Rio de Janeiro before retiring, but hot on their tail is Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who will bring Toretto in at any cost.

“Fast Five” assembles a large cast comprising most of the actors from the series’ previous entries, making it feel like an organic — and ultimately superior — culmination of each “Fast and Furious” that came before it. “Fast Five” offers a preview of the kind of high-octane energy Lin will bring to “Star Trek Beyond” when it hits theaters this week.