This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise, so it seems only fitting that it should be honoured with the release of a new feature film. It’s a movie tinged with joy, humour, sadness and reflection, but lacks a certain something held by its predecessors.
Two-thirds of the way into its five-year voyage, the U.S.S. Enterprise – led by its captain, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) – is docking at an artificial outer-space colony to give its crew some much-needed rest and recreation. Their break proves to be short when a lone alien explorer arrives at the colony, seeking assistance in rescuing her own crew.
Kirk offers his help to this mysterious figure by using his ship to locate her lost crew-members. After navigating through a dangerous nebula, the Enterprise flies straight into an ambush – led by the villainous Captain Krall (Idris Elba) – and crash-lands on an uncharted planet. The Enterprise is left charred and inoperable; Kirk’s crew injured and isolated.
Just as all hope seems lost, the Enterprise’s engineer, Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg) encounters a lone warrior named Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). Proving herself resourceful and capable, Scotty and Jaylah team-up to locate the Enterprise’s crew. But with one crew-member badly wounded and many more imprisoned under Krall, getting everybody to safety won’t be easy.
Star Trek Beyond is the third instalment in the rebooted film series, one which isn’t without its critics. Casual moviegoers enjoyed the new movies for their action sequences and younger, relatable characters, while hardcore Trekkies bemoaned the loss of the thoughtful, complex storylines of the franchise’s past. Happily, the tone of Beyond is a perfect blend of these approaches.
It’s also pleasing to see the cast of the previous films return. As well as Pine and Pegg, there’s Zachary “Spock” Quinto, Karl “Bones” Urban, Zoe “Uhura” Saldana, John “Sulu” Cho and the late Anton Yelchin as Patel Chekov. Yelchin’s death is particularly sad, since he has made the role his own over the past three movies – as have the other actors, in fact. Though if he is to be replaced, I wouldn’t mind seeing Jaylah become a member of the Enterprise.
Speaking of replacements, Justin Lin hasn’t made a compelling case as director. After the departure of previous show-runner J.J. Abrams, the Fast and Furious alumnus was given a pretty easy guide of how to make a Star Trek film. Instead, what Lin has delivered is nauseating camerawork – constantly shaking and rotating images do not a compelling action scene make – and a plot which only becomes remarkable during the third act.
Star Trek Beyond has the features that audiences love about the long-running franchise. But without that Abrams magic, what is left is a somewhat entertaining blockbuster which languishes rather than prospers.