Set phasers to f-
What am I doing?
Sorry. I’m better than that (probably not).
We’re all better than that.
And you’ll be glad to hear that so is Star Trek Beyond, which successfully re-energises (thank you) the rebooted Star Trek franchise after the misstep of Into Darkness, which I still think is pretty good, but a lot of people hated it so what do I know. Probably not a lot. On to the review.
I’m going to try and do this as spoiler free as possible, but there are some vague plot details that I will reveal. So spoilers, but not really.
Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Ubran (Bones), Zoe Saldana (Uhura), Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Sulu) and the late Anton Yelchin (Chekov) return as the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise and they’re joined by Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah and Idris Elba’s villainous Krall.
The Enterprise, captained by Pine’s Kirk, is three years into its five year mission exploring space and negotiating with foreign civilisations of behalf of Starfleet. Jim is suffering from a crisis in self confidence, having reached the point of being older than his father ever was and Spock, equally, is at a crossroads having learnt that Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy) has passed away. There’s a few nice moments in the film paying tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy and they’re linked nicely into Spock’s arc.
The beginning of the film feels, perhaps for the first time in this rebooted universe, like a true Star Trek film. The Enterprise has a fully functioning crew, people working in the background and it feels very Star Trek. It instantly feels a lot more ‘lived-in’ than Star Trek (2009) and Into Darkness. And that’s a good thing. It really feels like this crew have been together for a while.
After a summer of disappointing sequels and bland blockbusters, Star Trek Beyond is a breath of fresh air offering fun, humour, action and some great character moments in a truly entertaining two hours.
Perhaps the best thing about this new timeline has been the cast. Pine is charismatic and charming as Captain Kirk and he feels like a much more mature character here than in the previous two films. Quinto is predictably great as Spock balancing the logical Vulcan and the human sides of his character perfectly and he has some of the funniest dialogue. Most of this is shared with Karl Urban, after having nothing to do in Into Darkness, he gets the screen time he deserves. Anton Yelchin reminds us of the talent the world has tragically lost with a charming performance as Chekov and Zoe Saldana and John Cho are solid without having a great deal to do as Uhura and Sulu.
What this film does really well is give each member of the crew a decent amount of screen time and it does this by splitting them up, almost into pairs. Bones and Spock make a brilliant double act, the gritty and sarcastic Bones plays perfectly off Spock’s cold hard logical approach. Pegg’s Scotty also has more to do this time, I could cynically suggest that this is because Pegg wrote the film, but he’s a fun character so there’s no complaints from me and his interactions with Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah are really enjoyable.
Idris Elba’s Krall is a good enough villain. He appears mysteriously with mysterious motives but turns into a rather generic super-villain midway through the film. One thing I loved about Into Darkness was Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance, his character (Kahn shenanigans aside) felt complex and genuinely threatening. He got a lot of screen time too. There’s not much of that here. Krall’s motives are pretty straightforward and while there’s a little more to be revealed about this character in the third act, his motives aren’t really fleshed out so much.
Speaking of the third act, and there’s a moment which I think will be very divisive among long term Trekkies and your average movie goer alike. I won’t spoil it here, but you’ll know it when you see it. I’m still not sure what I thought of it.
In contrast to Into Darkness, the plot is very linear and they’ve kept it simple. Perhaps wisely after the jumbled storyline and character motives made Into Darkness a bit muddled. Keeping it simple pays off, it’s a quick two hours. It’s pacing is good, the dialogue is smart and funny and each character gets decent screen time. It’s a fun time. Really fun.
This goes without mentioning, but the score by Michael Giacchino is as brilliant as we’ve come to expect.
GREAT. While this film doesn’t really go boldly where no one has been before, it’s such good fun and packed with such interesting, fleshed out characters that it doesn’t really matter. A great way to mark Star Trek’s 50th anniversary.
If you enjoyed this review, why not check out our podcast? In our third episode we spoke about the rebooted Star Trek franchise prior to the release of Beyond. You can listen below, or on iTunes. Let us know your thoughts on Star Trek Beyond, or anything in fact, and we’ll read them out on air!
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