The Enterprise encounters a terrible new foe during its five year mission.
Star Trek came back in a big way in 2009 with J.J. Abrams’ fun if slight reboot. Into Darkness didn’t really have anything new to say so it remains to be seen what potential this opening trilogy has left with Star Trek Beyond.
Quite a bit, it turns out.
Beyond is a different kind of Trek film. While many reviews are suggesting it might be a return to form, a call back to the older films and series, that’s not such a simple matter.
For one thing, the older iterations themselves have many different personalities- from a tense war film in Wrath of Khan to the nostalgia trip of Generations, and whatever the hell The Final Frontier was supposed to be.
Star Trek may have a canon (which has since been more or less voided) but it doesn’t have a single voice and Beyond adds its own unique tone to that choir.
New director Justin Lin brings a rush of energy to the piece, evidenced as much in the comedic opening as the spry character moments and larger set pieces. He really gets to let rip in the first act with a giant wave of destruction which you should see on the biggest screen possible.
There’s a lot of action here and it’s mostly entertaining, apart from the odd instance of juddery CG and some overcutting in the battles which can make it difficult to figure out which characters we’re supposed to be following.
The screen is awash with colours and mostly strong effects, making this feel like a proper sci-fi film. Long moments are spent wondering at the craftsmanship of a mind boggling space station, at the roots put down in the cosmos by the power of the United Federation of Planets - and that’s a truly wonderous thing.
On the script side, writer Simon Pegg and Doug Jung have done a decent job with the character stuff, expanding on some relationships and themes and bringing in the needed touches of both drama and comedy.
The story is another matter, managing to cover very little ground across 120 minutes of running time. There’s nothing here which really furthers this fictional future world making the events all feel a little redundant, and leaving matters in a similar place at the end.
The Treks have had a villain problem since 2009’s reboot (arguably longer than that) and things haven’t improved much here. Idris Elba’s Krall is a vaguely sketched enemy with a motivation that isn’t too compelling. It all comes to a close in a pretty familiar fashion too, recalling elements from Into Darkness- but you won’t find spoilers here.
Still Lin and co conjure up some spectacular moments along the way, including a stand out scene of destruction that may be an utterly silly moment but also made my spine tingle and drew a smile across my face. You’ll know it when you see it, and if it’s not in keeping with the Trek tone, who cares- it’s all about entertainment.
Star Trek Beyond is a fun sci-fi spectacle and easily the least dour of the rebooted timeline. It’s also pretty light on story and true character development, with another disappointing villain.