Rated PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi action and violence)
Back in 2009, J.J Abrams helped bring the Star Trek universe to the main stream audience. Through a clever plot device he managed to reboot the franchise so that it was easily accessible to the average cinema-goer whilst still retaining all history that was part of the long running series. With more than a few nods to Star Wars, Abrams gave Star Trek a shot in the arm that it sorely needed. Needless to say, the film breathed life into the franchise and launched a new series of movies.
The 2009 movie was followed by another Abrams directed sequel, Into Darkness, which was met with mixed reviews, mostly negative. Where the first movie was original and inspired, Into Darkness crammed in too much fan service and became a victim of trying to be too clever. Relying on twists that you could see coming a mile away (Khan anyone?), the sequel failed to capitalise on all the groundwork laid by its predecessor.
With many fans wanting to forget Into Darkness as quickly as possible, it was up to Star Trek Beyond to once again make moviegoers want to boldly go where no other had gone before. With Abrams being busy with another franchise (something to do with laser swords and space wars), directing duties this time went to Fast and Furious director, Justin Lin. Written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, the third film once again reunites Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto), Doctor ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban), Lieutenant Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (the late Anton Yelchin) and the rest of the crew of the USS Enterprise in the third year of their five year mission to explore the reaches of the final frontier.
As you would expect, after three years of donning the same uniform day in and day out, Kirk is beginning to question his purpose within Starfleet, wondering if he’s ready to put the life of a starship captain behind him. Facing a similar quandary is Spock, who feels guilty that he’s not amongst his Vulcan people helping rebuild the society they had lost due to the events in the 2009 Star Trek film. However, all these musings are cut short when the crew find themselves facing an alien threat led by a being named Krall (Idris Elba). Being no match for his superior forces, the Enterprise crashes on a nearby planet and it’s up to Kirk and the rest of his team to thwart Krall’s plans and try to escape back home.
The story plays out like a long TV episode, with Kirk once again in charge of an away team needing to outwit the enemy of the week. This in itself is not a bad thing. It harkens back to Trek of old, and with Justin Lin behind the camera, the scenes zip around and are a visual delight, filling the screen with a dynamic intensity that he’s come to be known for. Not only is his cinematic style a joy to behold, but the world that the effects team have created actually seems lived in, showing the futuristic universe of Star Trek as a living breathing entity that full of life, teaming with beings going about their lives, a contrast from other sterile CG generated environments we have seen in recent films. *cough* Warcraft *cough*
However, as strong as the visuals are, it is the humorous and witty script that really makes the film an enjoyable watch. You can see the deft touch of Simon Pegg in the script as the characters interact with each other, the banter between the protagonists flowing naturally, as you would expect of people who had been together for the better part of three years. It helps that the main actors are so easily likeable, from the naturally charismatic Pine to the curmudgeonly Urban. In fact, I would say that Karl Urban stole the show with his ever-suffering demeanour, showing off his comedic chops and eliciting many a chuckle from the audience.
And while the crew of the Enterprise faithfully live up to their roles, the weakest part of the movie would have to be the villain. This is not to disparage Elba’s performance, but the main bad guy’s motivations never amounts to anything. The script never really dives into what is driving Krall’s rage, and in the end we end up with a cookie cutter antagonist that is just another foil for the Enterprise crew to fight against. A shame really considering the tremendous resource they had in Idris Elba. The film’s final act will also have most viewers rolling their eyes at its silliness, a deus ex machina that you will either love or flat out hate.
All in all, Star Trek Beyond is the course correct that the franchise needed, and is definitely worth a trip to the movies, if only to see the spectacular visuals, and once again experience Michael Giachinno‘s amazing score.
I give Star Trek Beyond a 7.5 out of 10 and I hope that in the next movie they try to avoid blowing up the Enterprise.