Fast and Furious director Justin Lin takes the reigns in this, the thirteenth entry in the Star Trek film franchise, while Scotty himself, Simon Pegg, co writes alongside Doug Jung.
Tasked with rescuing a ship from inside a nebula, the Enterprise is overwhelmed by a massive swarm of ships and crash lands on a planet, most of the crew captured and imprisoned by the main antagonist Krall (Idris Elba), who is intent on destroying the Federation. With the help of Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), who was also previously imprisoned by Krall’s forces, Kirk and his remaining crew must rescue everyone and prevent the Federation’s annihilation.
Admittedly, I haven’t actually seen any Fast and Furious films but I was a bit apprehensive as to whether Justin Lin was up to the job of helming the newest entry in this beloved franchise. Ultimately, I had no cause for concern as Lin proves that he is more than capable of taking the reigns, directing the action scenes with noticeable style, zeal and panache while confidently delivering a visually impressive, epic sci-fi atmosphere. The tone of Star Trek Beyond is a bit darker and a bit more “rock and roll”.
I like how the film doesn’t rely so heavily on references to the original series; a far cry from Star Trek Into Darkness, which relied far too heavily on Wrath of Khan references, Star Trek Beyond simply adds little nods to the series here and there, my favourite of which was the Wrath of Khan style Kirk/McCoy birthday drinking! It is clear that the franchise is going in a brand new direction.
This is definitely an ensemble piece and every character has their moment; Chris Pine is far more confident and commanding as the ever evolving James Kirk, Simon Pegg fits in very nicely as engineer Scott and the late, great Anton Yelchin has a lot of fun channelling Walter Koening into his Chekov role, all the while making it his own, of course.
Star Trek Beyond introduces the new character Jaylah (named after J-Law herself Jennifer Lawrence!) and she is certainly a breath of fresh air in this film. Very ably played by future Mummy star Sofia Boutella, she is a considerable merit to the film; her character design is great, her costume is perfect and very appealing and she kicks all kinds of . . .you know what . . . in battle. She certainly has an air of Katniss Everdeen about her (though her character was actually based on Ree Delly from Winter’s Bone) and I sincerely hope that we see more of her in future films!
This is clearly a very stylish film and the cinematography and production design is excellent. From the Inception/Mass Effect style Yorktown (interestingly, Commodore Paris is played by Mass Effect‘s own Shohreh Aghdasloo) to the planet where most of the action takes place, it is all stunning and visually impressive.
Michael Giacchino also does very well in scoring the movie, including that excellent theme that began in the 2009 Star Trek; that familiarity is certainly comforting. In addition, the overall score is great and helps to illicit all the right emotions when required. And including Public Enemy? Genius! Clearly, it is a perfect fit for Jaylah’s character and ideally conveys her badass, rock and roll personality. As for Rihanna’s “Sledgehammer” . . . well, granted it does have a certain unique sound and quality but whether it belongs in a Star Trek movie . . . I don’t think it does.
And the best part of Star Trek Beyond? Just one word: SABOTAAAAAAAAGE! Hands down, it was the highlight of the whole thing – loved it so much! (And watching Chekov and Sulu getting into it -awesome!)
However, the film does have some problems. Although it has a great beginning and ending, the film seems to more or less stand still during the middle as the pace slackens and interest wanes. Honestly, many scenes on the planet were slightly aggravating, since the film looked like it was in danger of stopping dead. That’s not to say that the entire middle is rubbish, it’s just that between the action-packed opening and finale, the film seems to stagnate and simply “wait it out” until the end. Maybe I’m being too harsh there . . .
Also, main antagonist Krall spends the majority of the film as the generic “I want that pivotal device thingy so I can destroy things!” baddie. Granted, the reasons for his plan are eventually made clear right at the end but it still seems as though originality is lacking and that we have seen this kind of villain many times before. I also have to say that the final revelation was sort of ruined for me by the TV trailers; certain things were shown that essentially led me to predict the ending!
I also felt that the film was a little “thin” at times; many of the characters never really felt “fleshed out” and I feel as though they are moving further away from the characters that Roddenberry created, becoming regrettably hollower. In addition, the story, though is does admirably go in a different direction than Into Darkness, is quite formulaic and a tad uninspired.
An enjoyable, stunning, sci-fi treat, Star Trek Beyond goes in a refreshing new direction, albeit with a slightly formulaic story and generic antagonist. A fast, furious space adventure!
★ ★ ★ ★
Wow, I think that’s my longest review yet! 😉