UK Release Date: 22nd July 2016
Runtime: 122 minutes
Director: Justin Lin
Writer: Simon Pegg, Doug Jung
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Zoe Saldana
Synopsis: The Enterprise is destroyed by a vicious attack deep in uncharted space, splitting the crew up on an unknown and treacherous planet, with them forced to find each other to take down a direct attack on the Federation.
Since the release of Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013, that film has been ruthlessly reassessed by Trek fans and is now considered one of the worst movies in the entire franchise. With that in mind, alongside turbulence behind the scenes with director JJ Abrams and his writing team leaving the franchise, things seemed dire for Star Trek Beyond, which had the unenviable task of being released in the 50th anniversary year of Star Trek. The end result is a combined effort, born of creatives with deep-seated love for the series and that shows in an enjoyable action film with due reverence for its roots in the mind of series creator Gene Roddenberry.
Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is questioning what he has achieved and is considering leaving the Enterprise behind, recommending Spock (Zachary Quinto) as the new captain. Answering a distress call, the crew is ambushed by Krall (Idris Elba) and his fleet of ships, destroying the Enterprise. The crew is split, with Kirk stranded with Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Spock gravely injured in the care of Bones (Karl Urban), and Scotty (Simon Pegg) finds herself teamed up with scavenger Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), who saves his life on the planet. They must come together to stop Krall, who bears a serious grudge against the Federation and is hunting a bio-weapon to mount an attack.
It’s clear from the opening moments of Star Trek Beyond that this is going to be a thoroughly entertaining take on the classic characters and material. The story put together by star Simon Pegg and co-writer Doug Jung is at once utterly unique and entirely of a piece with what has come before. Beyond is a film with a wry sense of humour and a keen grasp of action, provided with enthusiasm and proficiency by Fast & Furious veteran Justin Lin, who certainly knows his way around a high-octane action sequence.
Star Trek Beyond is a rollicking adventure movie with wit in spades. It takes the characters that audiences have grown to love through 50 years and dozens and dozens of hours of entertainment and gives them a brand new lick of paint. It’s a glittering journey through a rather unique version of a Star Trek movie, in which the characters are given the chance to spend time with each other in different combinations to usual. Spock and Bones prove to be a brilliant comic double act, Kirk and Chekov mesh well together and Simon Pegg forms an adorable chemistry with Sofia Boutella, with the latter proving a worthwhile addition to the cast of characters. Idris Elba is a less welcome addition, falling very quickly into the role of a generic villain.
Krall is perhaps the film’s only weak spot, though, with the rest of the movie a thrill ride with the occasional pauses for character moments well timed and used to advance the various narrative threads. The action never feels gratuitous and fits into the perception of the characters, both in their old and new incarnations. One climactic scene, set to ‘Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys, is one of the more uproarious story beats of the summer blockbuster season, which has been rather lacklustre to say the least.
With its move towards action rather than hard sci-fi, Star Trek Beyond is the most accomplished film in the rebooted franchise. Justin Lin’s direction breathes new life into the series and Pegg and Jung’s script combines the appropriate reverence to the past in its anniversary year with the modernity and verve you’d expect from a man used to directing Vin Diesel car chases. More Trek seems like a given, but with this team in place, it will be a pleasure to see these people continue to explore the final frontier.
Pop or Poop?
Justin Lin’s Star Trek Beyond boldly goes where no installment in the franchise has gone before, with a focus on thrills and comedy at the expense of hardcore ideas. It loses a little depth in the process, most notably in the case of its rather insipid villain, but Lin delivers on spectacle and the script has laughs aplenty.
New cast additions work well with the old favourites and many of the performers embrace expanded roles with gusto and energy. This is the fun-loving blockbuster that the summer of 2016 desperately needed.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.