I’ve never been the biggest Star Trek fan; my knowledge of the old movies and TV shows is severely limited. That being said when J.J Abrams rebooted the series in 2009 I was surprised by how enjoyable the film turned out to be. A great cast, some slick direction and a light, jocular tone endeared the film to me somewhat. The sequel Star Trek: Into Darkness had a somewhat opposite effect, with me going in expectant of great things and instead getting a mediocre Wrath of Khan remake. Because of this my initial expectations going into Star Trek: Beyond were quite low. Abrams has stepped back into a producer role, Justin Lin (of The Fast and Furious series) has taken over the reins and the trailers marketing of the film were highly underwhelming to say the least.
So imagine how pleased I am to report that Star Trek Beyond is one of the best movies of the summer. Seriously this one wasn’t really on anyone’s radar a couple of months ago and it’s the blockbuster I’ve been waiting for all summer. With a killer script courtesy of Simon Pegg and Doug Jung that focuses much more on the ensemble than the two previous Trek films, and frenetic, highly entertaining action set-pieces from the impressive Justin Lin, Star Trek: Beyond is just the good time you want from a summer movie.
So the setup is this, the Enterprise is half way through a five year deep space mission and Kirk is having mid expedition life crisis questioning his role within Starfleet. During a rescue mission the Enterprise is blown a new one by an unidentified group of aliens and the crew is split off and stranded across an unknown planet. Kirk and Chekov in one spot, Uhura and Sulu captured, Bones and an injured Spock elsewhere and Scotty meets up with the alien humanoid Jaylah whose been stranded on the planet for years. By breaking the crew apart this allows the actors the space to shine in their roles. Chris Pine continues his fine work as Kirk, and Sofia Boutella makes a lasting impression as Jaylah showcasing a comic range and a welcome charismatic screen presence. However the standouts are Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto as Bones and Spock respectively. Quinto’s always done a great job in his performance as Spock managing to pay respect to the characters past while simultaneously developing his own unique take on the role. Urban on the other hand has always been underutilised in the previous Trek films. One of the most underrated actors working in cinema Urban revealed recently that he almost dropped out of the film after feeling underused in Into Darkness and it took assurances from Justin Lin that the character would be given the opportunity to shine in Beyond to get him back on board, and shine he does. Pairing the ultra-rational Spock with the world weary pragmatism of Bones creates one of the year’s finest comic partnerships and Urban owns the part delivering laughs at a regular pace courtesy in part to Pegg and Jung’s fabulous dialogue. It would be remiss of me not to mention the great work Anton Yelchin does in this film as Chekov, imbuing the film with a mixture of urgency and humour that was gratefully received. He was one of the finest actors of his generation and that his life should be ended in such a freakish accident at such a young age is a truly devastating loss for both his family and friends, and fans of cinema worldwide. On the other side of that coin Star Trek Beyond also pays tribute to the late great Leonard Nimoy another cinematic icon, sorely missed.
Star Trek: Beyond is one of the best films of the summer, if you’re off to the cinema this weekend and you haven’t seen it then I recommend you check it out. It’s fun, vibrant, well directed, brilliantly written and wonderfully acted.
Dir: Justin Lin
Scr: Simon Pegg, Doug Jung
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Anton Yelchin, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Karl Urban, Deep Roy
Prd: J.J Abrams, Roberto Orci, Lindsey Weber, Justin Lin
DOP: Stephen F. Windon
Music: Michael Giacchino
Run time: 122 mins
Star Trek: Beyond is out now in UK cinemas.