Star Trek Beyond review by Calum Maclean
Star Trek Beyond
Directed by Justin Lin
Written by Simon Pegg & Doug Jung
Cast – Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Sofia Boutella & Idris Elba
Star Trek Beyond is the third in the J.J Abram’s produced reboot series and, like its predecessors, is enjoyable, totally accessible for the casual viewer, and littered with references for the more die hard Trek fans. With more of the fun spirit of 2009’s Star Trek, and avoiding the pitfalls of the flawed Star Trek Into Darkness, this instalment is rooted in character and adventure with great use of unusual pairings and some exhilarating action sequences.
The film opens with the Enterprise crew three years into their five year voyage, and fatigue is setting in for Captain Kirk (Pine). Weary from his time in space he is contemplating a transfer to a position on earth and handing over the captain’s chair to Spock (Quinto), unaware that he too is planning to leave Starfleet and work to restore his species on New Vulcan. However, when a surprise attack during a rescue mission leaves the crew stranded on a hostile planet, separated into small groups and reliant upon outdated technology, the fight for survival rekindles their camaraderie, introduces a great new character in Jaylah (Boutella), and unites them in the fight against the war mongering Krall (Elba).
The cast are great as usual, with the filmmakers smartly opting not to focus as heavily on the odd couple friendship between Kirk and Spock as they have in the past, instead allowing different pairings to take centre stage. This produces the hilarious bickering double acts of Spock and “Bones” (Urban), Jahlah and Scotty (co-screenwriter Pegg), and Kirk and Chekov (the late Anton Yelchin). Urban and Pegg do great comedic work, though Yelchin is sadly underused in one of his last screen roles. The same can be said to an extent about Idris Elba’s villain, who doesn’t quite engage until the third act, though Elba does great work with limited script and gives a real sense of menace under heavy prosthetics. All the actors play these classic characters with enough recognisable traits for those with only a surface understanding of the classic sixties series to fully understand and enjoy the story, so don’t be put off if you’re not a hardcore fan of sci fi, there’s loads of fun to be had.
The action scenes are all thrilling, with a standout sequence in the first twenty minutes, and a retaliation near the end of the film that walks a delicate tightrope of ridiculousness but pulls it off nicely. There are moments when the chaos of a situation, and the use of shaky cam, is a little disorientating and makes it difficult to identify what’s going on, but they are in the minority of what are largely crowd pleasingly silly or viscerally exciting scenes.
Fans of this film series will have a good time watching Star Trek Beyond, it’s well-acted, skilfully executed, has a smart, funny script and stands out as one of the most enjoyable summer blockbusters of 2016.
Calum Maclean, 30 July, 2016
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