STAR TREK BEYOND (USA/12A/120mins)
Directed by Justin Lin. Starring Chris Pine, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Anton Yelchin.
THE PLOT: “It’s easier than you think to get lost”; three years into their five-year mission through space, the crew of the USS Enterprise set out on a rescue mission from Federation Starbase Yorktown. Deep in a nebula cutting off radio contact, the Enterprise is attacked leaving Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his closest cohorts stranded on an unknown planet, struggling to find a way back home.

THE VERDICT: One of the most anticipated blockbusters of summer 2016 is finally here, and the good news is that giving the screenplay to certified fanboy Simon Pegg – and co-writer Doug Jung – and direction to ‘Fast & Furious’ alum Justin Lin means that ‘Star Trek Beyond’ is fun, action packed and touches on just the right amount of humour.

The cast are all back for this new instalment; Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Zachary Quinto, Anton Yelchin, Simon Pegg and John Cho all reprise their roles – it’s rather heartbreaking to see Yelchin get a huge amount of screentime in this outing, since the film was not only to be his last Star Trek flick, but is also dedicated to him – and they are joined by Idris Elba, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Sofia Boutella and Danny Pudi. All do well in their roles, with Elba making Krall menacing and frightening, Simon Pegg delivering his best Scottish accent and most humourous lines to date, Sofia Boutella bringing some fun and much needed new blood as Jaylah and Anton Yelchin obviously having fun with his action packed role.

Screenwriters Doug Jung and Simon Pegg have learned from the problems with ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ and made the story of ‘Star Trek Beyond’ smaller, for the most part. There is plenty of action and comedy, which are carefully balanced, and this new story fits well with the films that have gone before. Moving the action to deep space was a stoke of brilliance, as was separating the characters throughout the film so the audience gets to see some new dynamics at work. The dialogue is fun throughout – and there is even a nod to one of Pegg’s past projects in the film – and difficult situations are dealt with tactfully and respectfully.

As director, Justin Lin brings the energy of his previous work to ‘Star Trek Beyond’, making the two hour running time zip past, and keeping the audience engaged as we see familiar characters thrown into something well outside their comfort zone. The pacing is strong and the comedy well timed, with the nods to the past 50 years of ‘Star Trek’ subtle but warm. There are times when the film struggles to maintain that warmth, however, and by the time the villain’s motivation is given it’s almost… almost too late. That said, there is a lot of fun to be had with ‘Star Trek Beyond’, particularly the final set piece, which is only marginally too long.

In all, ‘Star Trek Beyond’ learns from the mistakes of ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’, with Simon Pegg and Doug Jung delivering a strong script full of heart, comedy and warmth. Justin Lin ramps up the action throughout the film and the cast do well in their roles, with franchise newcomer Sofia Boutella easily stealing the show. Issues arise with keeping the audience engaged and the final set piece feeling drawn out, but ‘Star Trek Beyond’ is as fun as it should be.

RATING: 4/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    Having successfully rebooted Star Trek and moved on to a certain other much-loved franchise, J.J. Abrams has left the keys to the Enterprise to Justin Lin. He’s better known as the man who gave The Fast & The Furious franchise a turbo-charged boost, propelling it to even greater heights. The first teaser trailer that appeared for Star Trek: Beyond got a mixed reception from Trekkers/Trekkies alike, including this one. However, the final film sweeps away any doubts, including those of Lin.

    Three years into the Enterprise’s mission to explore the galaxy, Kirk (Chris Pine) is contemplating a promotion which will take him away from the Captain’s Chair. This is unknown to Spock (Zachary Quinto), who himself is thinking of moving on to pastures new. That is, when he’s not having friction with Uhura (Zoe Saldana). However, that’s put aside when they encounter an alien at Yorktown, an elaborate, Elysium-like city in space. Answering her distress call for help to find her missing crew on a planet in the far reaches of space, the Enterprise ventures out into the beyond. The Enterprise comes under a vicious attack from a swarm of hive-like alien fighters led by Krall (Idris Elba), who seeks an element to a doomsday device. The crew abandon ship and find themselves stranded and separated on an alien world in pairings: Spock and Bones (Karl Urban); Kirk and Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Uhura and Sulu (John Cho); and Scotty (Simon Pegg) and feisty native warrior Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), who has her own agenda against Krall…

    Co-writing the script with Doug Jung, Pegg has the unenviable task of keeping the franchise going through this new generation / parallel Star Trek universe. Fans need not have worried though – the curse of the even-numbered Trek film certainly does not rear its ugly head here. After the controversial flirtation with Khan in Into Darkness, Beyond feels lighter, funnier and more intense than the previous two films, but that does not detract from its many qualities.

    Much like the earlier Star Trek films, there’s a sense of time passing and the characters developing beyond their familiar traits. There’s a nice, subtle touch involving Sulu, which feels progressive, while Uhura’s relationship with Spock becomes ever more complex. With an end credits dedication to Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, the legacy of the old and new crews of the Enterprise comes full circle. Pegg and Jung know exactly which character beats to hit at the right moment, with a touching sense of loyalty to the core fanbase. The actors have all grown into their characters too, but find new ways of making them fresh e.g. less bed-hopping antics and more introspection from Pine and an illogical display of emotion from Spock, which prompts Bones to deliver the best line in the film.

    Lin proves to be a smart choice for the director’s chair, as he stages some spectacular action set-pieces. The biggest and most impressive is a lengthy attack on the Enterprise early on, which manages to feel gut-wrenching as the Enterprise is basically dismembered. After that, the film gets smaller but only in a good way. With the big action set-piece out of the way, Lin wisely concentrates on character and also develops the backstory of Krall, who is kept in the shadows for a good part of the film. No mere sneering villain, his is a complex story that Elba successfully conveys even through layers of prosthetics. Boutella makes a commanding heroine too – no wonder the former Kingsman actress has been tapped for the title role in The Mummy reboot, which is currently filming.

    While many third instalments feel like they’re winding down, with Beyond there’s a sense that the series has plenty of dilithium crystals left in the chamber to power another few films. With talk of Chris Hemsworth returning as George Kirk for the fourth film, that poses some interesting time travel conundrums. For now though, Star Trek: Beyond is a breathlessly exciting, action-packed, warmly funny and vigorous rollercoaster ride that will certainly leave the core fanbase and casual viewer alike very satisfied. A resounding triumph. ****

  • Joseph McCarthy

    After the bloated Into Darkness, there’s a welcome return for the sense of fun that was missing from Star Trek. Simon Pegg’s writing shines as a mysterious alien manages to destroy the enterprise, and capture its crew without breaking a sweat.
    What follows is an entertaining adventure as the surviving crew must team up with a native on the planet they’ve landed, and abandoned starship to defeat this new enemy and save starfleet.

  • emerb

    Director Justin Lin replaces J.J. Abrams on this, the third instalment of the Star Trek series reboot, “Star Trek Beyond” and he certainly steps up to the mark. The basic premise is that the Starship Enterprise’s investigation into a mysterious shipwreck leads to a confrontation with a swarm of drones, and leaves the crew marooned and scattered on a rocky, barren world where they face an alien threat in the form of a mysterious enemy, Krall. Can Kirk, Spock and his crew find a way to save the universe? There is an emphasis on good, old-fashioned fun and adventure and the script injects a welcome element of humour, a nod to the original. The special effects are great, the action sequences are strong, the character relationships are developed further and the plot moves forward at a fast pace. It even feels like an extended episode of the Trek TV show and I don’t think real Trekkies will be disappointed.

    It is three years into the Enterprise’s five-year deep-space mission when Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban) and the crew of the USS jump into action to rescue a kidnapped alien crew but then find themselves violently and menacingly attacked by another fearsome alien in the form of Krall (Idris Elba). Krall is determined to get his hands on an ancient “death machine” artefact which is in their possession. The crew are forced to abandon ship and they find themselves stranded on an unknown planet, with a destroyed spacecraft and with no way of getting home.

    The best thing Abrams did for Star Trek was in his perfect casting. The entire ensemble is appealing, mature, confident and watching them interact is a joy. Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah is the standout, a great addition to the crew. She recently made a strong impression in her supporting role in “Kingsman: The Secret Service” but here is where she really shows us her capability. Her zebra-faced alien is assured, fierce, smart and resourceful. Perhaps even a promising love interest for Scotty (Simon Pegg) in future instalments?? I love the structure of the film, which allows for some of the cast to be paired off into smaller groups
    allowing for some amusing interplay where there is an emphasis on resourcefulness and teamwork as they try to figure out a way out. Chris Pine and Anton Yelchin’s Kirk and Chekov are great when stranded with the suspicious
    alien who got them into the mess (Lydia Wilson) and move the plot forward. Even better are the gruff Bones (Karl Urban) and the logical Spock (Zachary Quinto) who spend most of the film isolated together. Both actors have great chemistry and the banter between them reveals more of their personalities. Elba’s ferocity is somewhat obscured beneath layers of prosthetic armour but his powerful physicality is still evident. His Krall is more than just another blockbuster bad guy, he’s a credible villain. Both Pine and Quinto give us more of their human side too, both in the midst of introspective crises. Kirk is still toiling with the loss of his father and a monumental career decision while Spock feels compelled, despite his feelings for Uhura (Zoe Saldana), to return to his people and help repopulate New Vulcan.

    I’m a casual fan of Star Trek but I thought this film was smart, highly entertaining and a return to form for this new version of the franchise. The pacing, structure and suspense flow well throughout. There is a vivid sense of adventure and comradeship and the terrific cast are given a chance to play off each other in a coherent (for the most part!) story. I liked that the tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy was subtle, yet moving and dignified. Anton Yelchin, who died tragically
    (aged 27) only a month prior to release is also honoured by significant screen time and an effective performance. Scenes with him as the young Chekov looking up to Captain Kirk when they are stranded on the hostile planet acquire a sense of poignancy. Director Justin Lin handles the action scenes, which includes a super set-piece of the Enterprise under attack by hundreds of tiny drones, with energy and style. The previous two installments grossed a collective $853 million worldwide and this latest entry is likely to add nicely to this pretty impressive sum. It remains to be seen whether there will be another sequel in store but it’s highly likely I reckon. Here’s hoping these great Star Trek adventures continues to live long and prosper!