I cannot claim to be a huge Star Trek fan, I’ve seen both the new movies (I love the 2009 version), and have also seen Wrath of Kahn, which is incredible. So I can’t approach Star Trek Beyond as a huge fan of the franchise, but rather as the third installment of a, so far, mixed trilogy.
I like Justin Lin taking over from JJ Abrahams, I was hoping he would movie away from reworking classic Trek stories, and brings the spectacle he is known for. Having seen interviews with both him and new writer Simon Pegg you cannot help but be reassured by their passion and knowledge about Star Trek and its history. These are guys who know the history of Star Trek and really care about it, so I was confident that they would be able to bring a great film.
And I’ve got to say they delivered. This was a fun, well-paced, funny, sci-fi adventure. The premise of the bulk of the story sees the crew stranded on an unknown planet and isolated in small groups. I thought this was plot device, and the groupings they had were fantastic. My particular favourite was the Bones and Spock pairing. They brought so much humour and a great character dynamic. The story also went along at a really good pace, it didn’t rush through the character moments, but at the same time it never dragged for me. One of the strongest parts of the film was Kirk’s journey. He starts the film as unsure of where he is going and what the purpose of his life is now he’s achieved more than his father. The ending of the film does get a little silly, but it’s still much better than the stupid runway at the end of Lin’s Fast and Furious 6.
As I said Lin brings spectacle, he brought it to the Fast and Furious franchise, and he absolutely succeeds in bringing that spectacle to the Star Trek franchise. As you will have seen from many of the trailers there is a sequence early on of the Enterprise being destroyed from the first act. This whole sequence is absolutely stunning; it is so brilliantly directed and brings some real emotion, as the Enterprise is as much a character as anyone in the ship. Some of the hand-to-hand close combat action sequences are a bit overdone on the shaky camera coupled with spinning the camera. On the whole though the actions and the visuals work, and that’s probably a huge part of the reason that Lin was brought in.
I am such a big fan of the cast they brought in; they capture the spirit of the original cast and characters. Chris Pine is a fantastic Captain Kirk (say it quietly, but I think he does a better job than Shatner). But the real star performance is always Karl Urban as Bones McCoy. Bones has so much of the comedy in the film, and he plays so well with Pine’s Kirk and Quinto’s Spock. The villain of the piece, Idris Elba’s Krall, is a good bad guy. He manages to be so menacing, and also has a good motivation behind him. I can’t really go into it without bring in spoilers, but I bought into it. If I did have a problem with him, it’s that his alien voice was sometimes a little tough to understand, but that doesn’t detract from a great menacing villain. This was also one of the final film roles for Anton Yelchin. He gets a larger role in this film as Chekov, and serves as a reminder of what a prestigious talent he was, sadly taken far too soon. It was lovely to see the film dedicated to both Yelchin and Leonard Nimoy.
Star Trek Beyond was a great time at the cinema. I laughed a lot, especially with Bones. But I also cared about these characters, and their journeys in this film. Huge credit to Lin for making what was a great sci-fi adventure and, hopefully for the fans, a great Star Trek film.