Film Review: “Star Trek Beyond” (2016)

“Star Trek Beyond” (2016)

Running Time: 122 minutes

Featuring: Chris Pine, Karl Urban, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Sofia Boutella

Bones: “You spent all this time trying to be your father, and now you’re wondering just what it means to be you.”

Depending on which way you count them this is either the third or thirteenth Star Trek film in the franchise’s history – and it is one of those really good ones, that deserves rewatching as soon as the end credits roll.

The film forgoes all that was wrong with 2013’s “Star Trek into Darkness”, the cheap plot manipulations, the inferior version of the greatest Star Trek film of all and the somber tone it decided to take for no apparent reason. This film discards this for a righting of the ship, so to speak, and delivers a film that whilst being episodic in nature (or a standalone film) pushes the characters of the crew into unfamiliar situations and thereby giving them greater depth to draw from.

The film opens unlike previous Trek films with a scene of pure comedy that also serves as it turns out as the key to the entire film, as well as the premise of the movie. We are into year three of the Enterprise’s first five-year voyage with the crew and particularly the Captain a little bored of life on ship. It is also Kirk’s birthday, a scene we have witnessed before albeit with an older Kirk – and as it turns out he has always hated his birthday, but of course Dr. McCoy is there to shed some relief both through alcohol and friendship. Much like the scene towards the beginning  of “The Wrath of Khan” (1982), we are witnessing two close friends talking about their pasts and the different paths taken, or might yet be taken.

From there the film follows a familiar format, with the Enterprise and her crew going to  rescue others but getting caught in the crossfire of a larger story and eventually a face off against a big bad occurs and all of a sudden we arrive at the climax of the film with the future yet to be written.

To be honest this films greatness and success does not rest with the story but like so many good Trek films before it, with the crew and they are the ones that make all the right noises and moves to invigorate what could have been a very ordinary plot.  It is a delight to witness all of the crew giving genuine emotional beats to their moments within the story and I cannot wait for the next instalment.

After the previous Trek film the franchise seemed to have gotten lost after the excellent reboot “Star Trek” (2009), but once the results were in on that film Paramount dumped the script and the director (of what would have been the original Star Trek Beyond) in favor of a new creative team, that being Justin Lin, director of three of the blockbuster Fast and Furious films as well as Simon Pegg, geek-king and the actor who plays Scotty. At the time it may have been seen as a Hail Mary but Pegg, who knows all the characters so well and Lin a self confessed Star Trek fan, has turned out to be a canny choice of creative minds and one I hope that will continue for at least another film.

Something that has become an issue with so many big budget movies and one that exists within this film is, not only feeling that there are no real stakes involved but also a two-dimensional villain that does not ring true and cannot not even be saved by the likes of a wasted Idris Elba. However my feeling is that the smart writng, the kinetic directing and the fact that all of these superb actors know their charcters so well more than makes up for this. It is a joy to see them play together in what must have been an actor friendly environment.

Even with my minor criticism I would recommend this movie to all.

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