SINCE its inception, Star Trek has had its highs and its lows. However, since J.J. Abrams’ reboot/alternative reality setting kicked off, things have been on the up, even if Into Darkness did divide some viewers. It’s therefore a real treat that Star Trek Beyond, directed by Justin Lin and produced by Abrams, continues these strengths, though perhaps not quite as strongly as its predecessors.
But its success is down to a setting that was well established and built from the bottom up, with captivating story lines held together with a diverse, talented and downright enjoyable cast. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, and the rest of the Starship Enterprise are as enjoyable to watch as the original cast, bouncing off each other with incredible fluidity.
For example, the jibes traded between Spock (Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban) are funny without being cliché, and match both characters perfectly. It’s the definition of family-like-cast; as a result, you not only enjoy watching them, you also feel like part of the crew. Perhaps the only downside is the pang of sadness when Anton Yelchin perfectly portrays Chekov.
Of course, this film sees some new faces enter frame. Idris Elba plays Krall, the main antagonist, and, as expected, he does a brilliant job. But then again, this isn’t a surprise; Elba is great at the worst of times, and this role is perfect for him. Sofia Boutella brings some energy to proceedings with Jaylah, an alien scavenger who nearly stands shoulder to shoulder with the main cast. Without pulling attention away from the big names, Elba and Boutella do a great job of building on the cast’s appeal, while bringing something legitimately great to their roles.
While the cast do a splendid job of making this film, along with a script that compliments them, the story is self isn’t quite as grandiose as one would hope. Though it’s still enjoyable, it lacks the spectacle of the first two films. Some might say this is a good thing, bringing a new attitude to the series, but it can’t help but make Beyond feel quite claustrophobic. The first two films spanned the outer reaches of space as well as the tribulations of Earth; with so much being based around one planet, it both limits the film and simultaneously breaks into a new style for this series.
Aside from this, there’s very little to critique in the script. While the film often feels like it might be leading to a limp ending, the plot twists into something exhilarating. When the climax does hit, it’s decent, but in retrospect does seem somewhat cliché and cheesy.
Still, if you’re less cynical than I, there’s plenty to enjoy here. The special effects are (obviously) excellent, with the make up, prosthetics and costumes looking absolutely spectacular. Not only does it make the film all the more real, it’s also a nice nod to the classic effects of the older series.
On the whole, Star Trek Beyond is a really good summer blockbuster. Funny, smart, stylish, moving; everything one could want or need. With so much disappointment around this season, it’s nice to know Kirk, Spock and the gang have got our back.
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