Star Trek Beyond is a fast-paced space adventure that will no doubt offer fans a couple of hours of entertainment. Lyndon Wells takes a closer look at this solid entry in the classic space opera franchise…
The third instalment of the rebooted franchise is the first not to be directed by J J Abrams. Fast and Furious alumni Justin Lin takes the reins and proves to be more than just a safe pair of hands. This is fast and furious in space, which neatly describes everything that is good and bad about the film. It is fun, the action is frenetic, especially the big first act set piece (although sometimes hard to follow), and family values are central.
The film starts with the enterprise crew in deep contemplation midway through their five-year journey into deep space as they reach the beautiful federation outpost of Yorktown. From Yorktown they respond to a distress signal from uncharted space but not all is as it seems. Beyond feels like an extended old fashioned Trek episode complete with the crew separated and abandoned on an alien planet to eventually combine their resources and new friends to save the universe. In fact their new friend Jaylah played by Sofia Boutella almost steals the show with a great performance.
Abrams’ lasting stamp on the franchise is the casting, especially Chris Pine who once again shines in the lead role. A criticism launched at Into Darkness was a lack of depth and importance within the supporting cast. Karl Urban was especially vocal on this so in response, like the original series, Kirk, Spock and Bones form a central trio. In fact Bones provides the comic relief throughout the film especially when isolated with the ever pragmatic Spock. Sulu and Uhura are mainly side-lined and the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov only really gets some nice interaction with the Captain. However, overall it does feel more like an ensemble piece than the last entry. Simon Pegg is not only a reliable Scotty but is also on writing duties this time round. Unfortunately the script feels more like it was written as a response to the reaction of the last film rather than crafted from an original idea.
Idris Elba’s villain is given little to do and suffers from following a great Benedict Cumberbatch performance. Elba feels like a rehash of Eric Bana’s equally forgettable Nero, but with less clear motives. Also the emotional turmoil crowbarred in for the main two characters never really lands apart from an elegant farewell to the late great Leonard Nimoy.
The heavy (and in my opinion unfair) criticism levied at Into Darkness about it rehashing ideas from previous films can also be applied to Beyond. This is really just a mega budget extended fun episode. The operative word for this film is fun and is why it won’t garner the criticism of Into Darkness from the vocal fans despite its lack of creative risk. The element of fun makes up for weak storytelling including a particularly ridiculous use of music as a major plot device.
This is a good fun film, not better than Into Darkness, but creatively safer to avoid the same reaction.