Full Speed Ahead
♦Tripwire editor-in-chief Joel Meadows puts on his boots and his red shirt and beams down to check out the third new Star trek movie, Star Trek Beyond…
Star Trek Beyond
Director: Justin Lin;
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella
Back in 2009, a relatively unknown director JJ Abrams released his interpretation of much-loved Star Trek characters Kirk, Spock et al. The film made $385m and spawned a sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013. The followup made even more money, $467.4m and so the reboot proved to be even more lucrative than its progenitors. But there was a problem creatively. The first film was fun but had plot holes you could fly a starship through while the second one felt like a pointless remake of Wrath of Khan with far too many callbacks in the script that would only be of interest to fans of the Shatner-Nimoy stories, aged thirty five and above. Then director JJ Abrams left to concentrate om something called Star Wars. This gave the filmmakers the opportunity to reset the series and bring it closer to the feel and mood of both the original 1960s TV series and the 1980s film series. So Abrams was replaced by Fast and Furious helmer Justin Lin, and the script was written by Simon Pegg (Scotty) and TV scriptwriter Doug Jung (Banshee). Star Trek Beyond has a crew three years into its five year mission with a Captain Kirk (Pine) who feels as if he has lost his way. The crew are drawn into a battle for the Federation itself, led by Krall (Idris Elba) who has a very definite axe to grind with them. When the crew find themselves on a planet in uncharted space fighting for their very survival since the Enterprise has been destroyed by Krall’s Swarm, they have to reinvent the way that they operate. We are introduced to Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) who lost her father to Krall and decides to fall in with the crew.
One of the most interesting things about Lin’s approach to Star Trek Beyond is that his directing style here is less flashy than Abrams and the film feels fairly measured in places. Pegg and Jung have created a story here with Krall at its heart and what it means to be a Federation starship crew that resonates emotionally. Its predecessors, especially Into Darkness, felt like a series of pretty but fairly empty set pieces. Star Trek Beyond comes closest to distilling that essence of Star Trek, about humanity’s quest to explore and connect. There are some very nice one liners, we get to see Bones (Urban) and Spock (Quinto) interact in a way we haven’t before, there is a very touching tribute to Leonard Nimoy and there is even a little nod to Steve McQueen’s motorbike chase in The Great Escape. The cast have even grown to feel like they are more than just pastiches of the original actors and even Pegg isn’t totally bereft of appeal here. New creation Jaylay (Boutella) looks impressive and is actually an intriguing addition to the crew rather than just visual eye candy.
It isn’t perfect by any means as sometimes the visuals are a little bit dark and the action overwhelms the story. But to give Pegg, Jung and Lin their credit, we have an interesting plot, some well-conceived character moments and a villain with a nifty backstory.
Let’s hope that they can continue in this vein with any future movies. A fourth has been announced and I actually feel hopeful that they can give us something entertaining. Star Trek Beyond feels like the first modern Star Trek movie that is truly worthy of the name.
Star Trek Beyond is out from this Friday 22 July 2016 in the UK and US