Star Trek Beyond
2009 brought us the reboot of the Star Trek movie universe. Helmed by JJ Abrams and with a revitalized approach to not only Star Trek but also modern sci-fi, it opened itself up to a wealth of new viewers. Since then Abrams has moved onto a galaxy far far away, leaving the next installment in the care of Justin Lin, known for his work in the Fast and Furious franchise. You’d think that fast cars and exploring outer space wouldn’t mesh well but Star Trek Beyond is proof that a new director isn’t always the kiss of death for a beloved franchise.
Star Trek Beyond picks up nearly 3 years into the 5 year mission of the USS Enterprise, a plot element that was key to the premise of the original TV show but is still accessible to viewers new and old. All that matters is that the James Kirk (Chris Pine) we see now has grown weary in his years of space travel and is starting to question his role as captain. Once a man has grown used to exploring the vastness of space, what’s next for him? His crew have also grown and developed over the years, with relationships coming and going as well as unlikely friendships forming with their years confined to the ship. Upon being sent to investigate a distress signal sent from an uncharted section of space the Starfleet crew find themselves separated and fighting for survival against the forces of Krall (Idris Elba), a mysterious figure in the pursuit of an ancient weapon.
At first glance there didn’t appear to be more to him than great makeup, but as the plot develops Idris Elba puts his acting talent into full gear and delivers a captivating performance. The test of a great villain is one that you can’t help but find yourself rooting for – someone that no matter how nefarious they are in their actions lets you form an emotive attachment. Krall passes that test with ease. On the topic of new additions to the cast, Sofia Boutella may have what it takes to become a new fan favorite. The character of Jaylah is a tech savvy warrior that steals the show and plays well alongside fellow engineer Scotty (Simon Pegg).
Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban) have never really shared much screen time together in this rebooted continuity, even though fans know that their love/hate relationship was a staple in the original. As a result it was refreshing to see their bromance in all its glory this time around. The jokes come thick and fast, acting as a great palate cleanser for some of the films darker moments.
My only issue with this film is its presentation of tone and how mixed it can be at times, but this is also to the film’s merit. Star Trek Beyond tackles tougher themes than its previous installments yet somehow manages to become the most feel good of the bunch, proving that the chemistry of a great cast and some top notch writing can put warmth into the darkest of events.
The great action on display in Star Trek Beyond has the excellent direction of Justin Lin to thank. His trademark approach to handling explosions and speed is an asset to this film. Any director can throw in an explosion (I’m looking at you Michael Bay) but to make it aesthetically pleasing whilst not getting in the way of the story is a feat in itself. Beyond revels in its chaos and sense of scale. With ships being blown up and swarms of drones filling the screen it’s easy to get distracted, but the impact of such spectacle doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The thrill of seeing a ship darting through waves of lasers and debris to the musical badassery of the Beastie Boys perfectly captures the intensity and childlike naivety of what makes Star Trek cool. It’s escapism with heart, a testament to the writing of this film, which has been fantastically crafted by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung.
Star Trek Beyond may not be the absolute best in this rebooted series, but it’s certainly the most likeable. Functioning not only as a bombastic 2-hour session of blockbuster entertainment but a film that will please Trek fans to no end.
4.5 out of 5
Rest in Peace Anton Yelchin and Leonard Nimoy. You boldly went where no men have been before.