Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl my main man Urban
Review Author: Tony
Rating: 4/5 shots of Jameson
My first reaction to Star Trek Beyond was the absence of the retina burning lens flare that plagues the first two films of the rebooted series. J.J Abrams is a swell guy but his use of this technique is less of a treat for the eyes and more like an assault. Eye deficiencies aside Star Trek (2009) was a major success hitting the right chord with casual cinema goers and a number of fans. It solved any timeline issues for the hardcore fans and made Star Trek a hot commodity in Hollywood again.
Star Trek has always seemed just on the peripheral of my life. I quickly knew growing up that Sci-Fi was the genre for me and early on I was a member of the armada of Star Wars fans. I’ll confess that besides watching the odd two-part episodes I never consistently watched the show although I had seen a number of Next Generation and TOS episodes. Star Trek was always on the television when I was growing up and back when we only had twenty channels, it was difficult to not settle on the show when the Simpsons or Malcolm in the Middle weren’t on. What’s funny to me is that I always enjoyed the episodes I saw believing it was a quality show. I just never took the bait. My uncle and cousins were massive Trekkies who actively tried to encourage me to embrace the franchise. For my twelfth birthday my uncle gave me a Star Trek mug as his last ditched effort to get me into the universe. I still have that mug twelve years later and its my favourite in the house as it holds the most tea.
Star Trek Into Darkness was a disheartening blow to the fans, rather than focusing on the crew or the exploration elements the fans were calling for. Instead they got an explosion heavy action romp that lifted some of the most iconic moments from their favourite film, Wrath of Kahn and recreated them to zero effect and tried to call it fan service. Not being a Star Trek fan, I found Into Darkness inoffensive and enjoyable in parts; but as a Star Wars fan I know all too well what having your franchise shit all over feels like. The first trailer that dropped for Beyond in plain terms sucked, it left everyone scratching their heads about what they had just bore witness too. Then with very little marketing and supposed difficulties behind the scenes Star Trek Beyond was shaping up as a disaster.
Concerned was an understatement when news broke that Justin Lin was directing the film since his involvement in the Fast and Furious franchise has failed to impress me. I’m pretty partial to the Fast series which has mostly been way over the top and destruction-tastic, not exactly the direction the Star Trek series needs to go. Thankfully Lin brings one of the most underrated elements of his films here and that’s the camaraderie among the characters. Beyond puts a strong emphasis on its central characters and mixes things up by having different crew members team up that haven’t before.
Captain Kirk has become bored with the endless monotony of space and strives to find himself as he feels that circumstance has placed him in his current role. This is the most mature Kirk we’ve seen in this series, a true captain that feels the responsibility for his crew. Meanwhile Spock struggles with his own mortality after finding out his future self has passed away (a touching nod to the passing of the legend Leonard Nimoy) and a responsibility to help with the continuation of his endangered species. Lin adds an extra layer of meat to his characters which I greatly appreciated. Simon Pegg, the writer of the movie, sneakily has written himself a lot more screen time than in the past and given himself a large share of the comic relief, can’t say i’m complaining though.
The plot follows the Enterprise on a rescue mission which quickly goes astray as the ship is attacked by the ruthless villain Krall. Krall is seeking the last piece to his doomsday device which is onboard the Enterprise. Seeing the Enterprise destroyed is a breathtaking sequence but also tragic as the ship has become an entity in itself. Our heroes find themselves marooned on a mysterious planet where they must find each other and thwart Kralls plans. The plot never gets too complicated and instead appears more like an episode of TOS. Even the set designs are a call back to the older series with a polystyrene look, a feature I really enjoyed.
I can’t speak for others but for me this film feels the most Star Trek out of the rebooted series. The film focuses mostly on the crew with its actions scenes spread sparingly throughout. Finally we are seeing the crew use their wits and knowledge to think their way out of dilemmas and not shoot their way out. The stand out moments of the film are the interactions between McCoy and Spock played wonderfully by Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto, both juggle the lighter elements and heavier themes of the film as McCoy supports an emotional Spock while also playfully teasing each other.
There’s a moment towards the end of the film which may prove make or break for Star Trek fans as the scene is the epitome of dumb fun. I won’t spoil anything but music basically saves the day, I rolled my eyes at first but found it a pretty thrilling sequence in the end. Lin’s action sequences are really high-octane eye candy the problem is that its hard to keep up with it, there were times the camera was cutting so much I could barely make out who the characters were. It’s a minor gripe but the camerawork could be a tad steadier and clearer.
For me it was quite emotional seeing the late Anton Yelchin on-screen, its been such a tragedy and loss and I know I will miss this talented young actor but remember him for the great body of work he has left. I appreciated the homage to Leonard Nimoy and how it made sense to relate his passing to the plot, tying in the death of a character especially as iconic as Spock is a difficult task but I’m delighted to report that it pays off.
Perhaps the biggest flaw of the film is the Villain Krall, his motivations are discovered a little too late into the plot and are too similar to both Kahn and Nero’s from earlier films. Even with Idris Elba they couldn’t even make him stand out. There’s a few clichés that bothered me such as the doomsday gizmo that everyone is scrambling to get their hands on and the villain unnecessarily monologuing his entire plan.
Star Trek Beyond is a fantastic summer film and against all the criticism and bad press has risen above it all and produced a fine entry to the Trek film verse and in my opinion the best out of the relaunched series.
Let us know what you think of Star Trek Beyond below in the comment section or tweet and maybe follow us @ReeTimeDublin (go on be sound).
Great review. I agree with your sentiments about tying the loss of Leonard Nimoy to the film. It was tastefully done that never seemed exploitative.
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I agree with the camera moving too fast. You just couldn’t focus on what you were supposed to see. And I was wondering why Uhura was explained the whole evil plan too. The reveal of who Krall originally was came indeed late into the storyline and went a bit too fast for me too. I understood why he wanted revenge, but not how he became Krall. I guess I’ll have to see it again… one day 🙂 .
Great review. You’ve put exactly how I felt about the movie into words. I’ve enjoyed all of the latest Star Trek movies, but you’re right, the villains seem to have too much in common with the whole “let’s destroy your world because mine is messed up.”
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Really enjoyed this! Have you posted your writing on any film sites before?
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I post the odd review on r/movies but haven’t been too sure where a decent site to post film reviews are. Cheers for the feedback
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Cool! Well if you’d be interested, let me know if you would like to post on Moviepilot! 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org