Star Trek Beyond

The USS Enterprise flying through the universe, with the film's title "Beyond", and the film's billing below.

The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

Star Trek Beyond’ is an enjoyable entry in the long running franchise, leaning into the strong ensemble to craft an enjoyable, if serviceable adventure. As the title suggests, the film’s plot revolves around the crew of the enterprise being sent ‘beyond’ their usual hunting grounds into an unstable Nebula on a rescue mission for one of their allies. It’s no surprise that events don’t go according to plan and the crew are left in a situation where they have to battle for their survival.

Star Trek Beyond’ is a solid blockbuster movie that hits most of the right buttons but it disappointingly chooses to go with the tried and tested instead of pushing new boundaries and that gives the film a bit of an anti climactic feel. The strengths of the film remain in its ensemble, who by the third film have built up strong chemistry and a good sense of camaraderie. A sign of a strong ensemble is often when you could put any of its members together and be entertained and this iteration of the ‘Star Trek’ universe certainly fits this bill. The film is light on new characters, with the only significant introduction beyond Elba’s villain the intriguing Jaylah, played by up and coming Algerian actress Sofia Boutella. Jaylah immediately fits into the ‘Star Trek‘ universe and bounced well off Simon Pegg’s Scottie in particular. Scottie is given extra screentime in this entry, perhaps in large part due to Pegg also responsible for writing elements of the script.

For the third film in a row, ‘Star Trek’ struggles to introduce a compelling villain and whilst Idris Elba’s Krall is given a convincing backstory, it’s too late in the narrative to have the necessary effect. Krall’s initial motivation appears to be destruction for destruction’s sake and it doesn’t allow much nuance for Elba to play around with. The established cast fare better, and Karl Urban continues to be the most consistently entertaining member of the ensemble, increasing the disappointment that the underrated ‘Dredd’ did not get a sequel. Perhaps the writers looked to another recent success story in the space opera subgenre in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ as the inspiration for the use of some modern music at a key point in the plot, and whilst it feels out of place there’s a certain glee and fun in hearing Public Enemy and The Beastie Boys blasted out in an unfamiliar setting! It’s difficult to discuss the film without the context of the two deaths that have overshadowed the production and release of the movie. Anton Yelchin’s tragic death happened too late to be recognised within the confines of the narrative, but original Spock and ‘Star Trek’ legend Leonard Nimoy’s passing is touchingly acknowledged, with Zachary Quinto’s performance in the scene where he finds out beautifully realised.

All in all, ‘Star Trek Beyond’ is an entertaining blockbuster, but it’s a very safe effort that doesn’t as its tagline promises, ‘boldly go where no man has gone before’ and for a series that has broken down boundaries in genre storytelling over the years, this is disappointing.

Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Justin Lin

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim, Lydia Wilson, Deep Roy, Harpreet Sandhu, Danny Pudi, Kim Kold, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Ashley Edner and Shea Whigham

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