Directed by Justin Lin
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Ibris Elba, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Sofia Boutella & Zoe Saldana Film Review by Kieran Freemantle
Star Trek is now celebrating its 50th anniversary, a huge multimedia franchise that found its way onto TV, film, cartoons, books, comics and video games. To celebrate this occasion Paramount have made their third movie in the reboot series with Justin Lin taking over J. J. Abrams and his team of writers.
The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are three years into their five year mission to explore the outer reaches of known space. Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) has fallen into a state of ennui as he is about to outlive his father and questions why he joined Starfleet. Spock (Zachary Quinto) also suffers an existential crisis after he finds out Spock Prime has passed away and considers whether he should fulfil his duties for the Vulcan race. However, they are unable to dwell too long on these issues because the Enterprise have to go on a rescue mission to save a scientific ship but fall into a trap laid by the mysterious Krall (Idris Elba). Trapped on a strange planet, it's up to Kirk to find a way to rescue his crew and stop Krall from retrieving a ancient destructive weapon.
Star Trek has endured as a series for a number of reasons - it has a cast of characters that people love, a rich world filled with loads of alien races and complex intergalactic politics, the use of all its sci-fi elements and has a willingness to inject some political commentary. The previous two Star Trek films were critical and financial successes but some of the characters got more focus than others - namely Sulu and Chekov got short changed. The advantage Star Trek Beyond has over its predecessors is that all the characters get a chance to shine and Lin, along with writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung mix up the parings to show new dynamics. The best was between Spock and Bones (Karl Urban) because of their different personalities - Spock is straight-lace and literal minded and Bones has a more gruff, sarcastic persona, which led to a great on screen chalk-and-cheese relationship and they had the funniest dialogue in the film.
The other pairings are Kirk and Chekov as they find a mole in the crew, Sulu and Uhura get captured by Krall, and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) has to battle wits with the villain and Scotty (Pegg) meets Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), an alien who escaped Krall's clutches and could be the key to the Enterprise crew escaping the planet. Pine's Kirk is given more weight because of his state of angst and Pine pulls it off, showing a more mature version of the character in the reboot series. Boutella was a strong new addition to the series, having already homed her action skills on Kingsman: The Secret Service and despite her skills, has an incredible fear of Krall and his forces.
Although Star Trek Beyond has some serious character development it is actually a more light hearted entry in the series and the most comedic out of the reboots. As mentioned, there was lots of banter between Spock and Bones and there are other fun interactions throughout the film. An early moment between Kirk and Bones is a homage to a similar scene in 'Wrath of Khan'.
Justin Lin is best known for directing four Fast & Furious films that had impressive usage of practical effects but when they had to use CGI, it was obvious. He stepped up his game for the Star Trek series, opening with Kirk encountering some aliens and showing the grand Yorktown, a Federation space city that shares some similarities to the space cities in Elysium and Interstellar.
Lin does provide on the action front as would be expected considering his experience. Krall's swarm is able to counter the Enterprise's defences by being a collection of small ships, making a crucial hit impossible. The raid and the destruction of the Enterprise was an excellent action scene to kick off the film. When on the planet, some of the highlights are when Jaylah is introduced using her martial arts skills and her holographic doppelgangers and the rescue mission to free the Enterprise crew. The rescue mission includes the infamous motorbike stunts that are a lot better in context and has a martial arts fight between Jaylah and Krall's second-in-command (The Raid's Joe Taslim). Taslim's character was pointless to the film but still, it's great to see Gazelle and Sgt. Jaka fight. Other moments are more ridiculous, yet it suits the lighter tone of the film and pays homage to have the old Enterprise crews solved problems.
The previous entry in the Star Trek series, Star Trek Into Darkness was praised critically but fans of the series were much more critical - it was even voted the worst Star Trek (an impressive feat considering 'The Front Frontier'). As a more casual fan to the series I will state I have an unpopular opinion: 'Into Darkness' is the best out of the reboot series because it was a strong continuation of the 2009 reboot. Although Star Trek Beyond is a fun sci-fi action film, it is the weakest out of the reboots, having the lowest stakes out of all them.
Star Trek Beyond also shares the same problem that Star Trek (2009) suffered - it's villain. When we find out Krall's origins and what his plan really is, it isn't that different to previous reboot films.
Star Trek Beyond is an entertaining popcorn film, having some excellent action scenes and great special effects and enhanced by the characters that fans know and love. Long-time fans will be happy how Star Trek Beyond homage’s the TV show and old films and works as a standalone film while more casual fans will enjoy it as a light-hearted action film.