Star Trek Beyond

[5.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Another Star Trek movie. Some people say: stop, already. I say: bring it on!

Although I feel a touch of geezerhood seeing all the "Star Trek 50th Anniversary" notices slapped on all the merchandise lately. Yes, I was there at the beginning. It's beginning to look as if I won't be there for the end. Because Star Trek will never end.

In this dandy entry, both Kirk and Spock are experiencing midlife crises. Kirk is finding that the Enterprise's five year mission is getting a tad boring. (Boring? The recent movies take place in an alternate timeline from the Original Series, more boring, but with superior special effects.) And Spock is shocked by the passing away of the Spock from the TOS timeline, and wonders if it's not time to turn his efforts into preserving Vulcan heritage.

After a brief but amusing (seemingly irrelevant) diplomatic mission, the Enterprise visits Yorktown, a fabulous Death-Star-sized space station. Also arriving, a tiny ship inhabited by a desperate alien, requesting that the Federation help rescue her crew, inexplicably taken hostage on a planet hidden inside a mysterious nebula.

Sure thing, Kirk says, we can do that. But (guess what) it turns out to be more than he bargained for. Things don't go well for the Enterprise, way too many of the crew are wearing red shirts, and Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, and Scotty are split up, some held in captivity by the mysterious villain Krall, others merely in mortal danger.

It's a fine entry in the continuing series. Oh, yeah: Sulu is totally gay. I would have thought Chekov, but…

Below Zero

[Amazon Link]

Another entry in C. J. Box's Joe Pickett series, a fine job as usual.

In between special missions for Wyoming's eccentric governor, Joe is relegated to his normal game warden duties, specifically chasing down a poaching archer who isn't very particular about what kind of animals he shoots. For example, Joe's dog, Tube. (Tube survived, but sheesh, what kind of asshole shoots a dog for fun?)

In the meantime, back in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a man and his son are apparently on a semi-random killing spree, targeting those with large carbon footprints. They're accompanied by a 14-year-old girl who's shocked by the killings, and she reaches out to the Pickett family via burner phone for help. Why? Well, she claims to be someone from the Picketts' past, someone we thought was carelessly blown up in a previous book. Whoa, didn't see that coming.

Joe goes in pursuit of the murderous pair, hoping to rescue the girl. Along for the ride is his daughter Sheridan; Joe's dangerous buddy and Federal fugitive Nate Romanowski; and the weaselly FBI Agent Portman. Lots of action and plot twists.