Star Trek Beyond review!

Left to right: Anton Yelchin plays Chekov and Chris Pine plays Kirk in Star Trek Beyond from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm Entertainment
'Star Trek Beyond' poster artwork
‘Star Trek Beyond’ poster artwork
  • Written by Simon Pegg & Doug Jung
  • Directed by Justin Lin
  • Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Idris Elba & Sofia Boutella

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 in cinemas worldwide now!

Let’s face it ‘Star Trek Beyond’ had a huge amount riding on it. Following a critically successful but fan rejected ‘Into Darkness’ the film needed to firstly recapture the magic. Once it had successfully done that it needed to celebrate the franchise 50th anniversary. Oh and it needed to do all that with a new director and writing team. We can all agree that’s no easy task.

You’ll be glad to know that in this reviewers opinion it successfully manages all of the above. Let’s start with the story…

Crafted by series star Simon Pegg and co-writer Doug Jung the story quite simply evokes the feeling of classic Trek. It’s much simpler than the previous entries in the Kevlin Timeline. Simplifying the story allows Pegg and Jung to inject a whole lot more character in to the film. It’s all the added relationships between the crew of the Enterprise that make the film successful.

We re-enter the story with the NCC-1701 just short of three years in to its famous five year mission. Now in deep space the crew are suffering the fatigue of life on a space ship. It’s a plot device but one that breeds conflict amongst characters. It also allows for new aliens to take the fore whilst franchise staples the Klingons and the Romulans take a back seat.

The focus remains the Kirk-Spock relationship but we’re able to explore it through the eyes of other characters. The Kelvin timelines has paralleled the two well through its first two films and this feels like the conclusion to a three part origin of sorts.

The story features all the things which make ‘Star Trek’ great: new worlds, new civilisations, socio-political commentary and just a little action. Thus far the Kelvin timelines has leant more towards summer blockbuster then truly trekking beyond the stars. That’s been fine for acclimating a new audience to the franchise but it can’t be denied that ‘Star Trek’ has lost sight of what it is over the last few years.

‘Beyond’ is a Trek film for Trek fans. Pegg and Jung have carefully crafted an adventure in the vein of the Kelvin timeline but filled it with the hope and spirit of the original series. Where the 2009 film was a reintroduction on the bittersweet life of James T. Kirk and ‘Into Darkness’ was a statement on terrorism, ‘Beyond’ is a hopeful family adventure.

Modern audiences are likely to be somewhat turned off by the less in your face action of ‘Beyond’ but Trek fans will no doubt rejoice.

Another major complaint from fans in general is the visual style of director J.J. Abrams. Taking a back seat as producer on ‘Beyond’ you immediately notice a reduction in lens flares. New director Justin Lin is not to be underestimated however. His visual style is equally as impressive as Abrams, camera angles are still wonky and the cinematography is full of interesting choices. In particular shots of the Enterprise and the villainous swarm are impressive. Space-based fight sequences are some of the most original in the franchise history and it adds a whole new layer of excitement to the film.

On land the fight sequences are a little to close up for my liking. It’s at times hard to define exactly what is happening on the screen but this is only a minor complaint. Hand-to-hand combat is well choreographed and stunts are impressive, it’s a fault of the cinematography and not of the films stunt coordination.

The returning cast members are all so comfortable in their skin that’s it’s hard to comment on their acting. It’s clearly second nature to the crew of the Enterprise to inhabit these roles. Chris Pine really embodies William Shatner on a couple of occasions in ‘Beyond’. His pronunciation of a couple of lines are so-Shatner that it has to have been on purpose.

The film succeeds best in paring in the cast off. Putting those who have had little screen time together in the Kelvin timeline pushes the film in to new territory. Most of the humour comes from the pairing of Spock and Bones. Both elicit some great comedy from each other but in sparring verbally they also show one of the strongest friendships in the franchise.

Uhura and Sulu bring much of the action to the film, there’s not a lot of time for them to talk to each other but they do helpfully move the story along.

Chris Pine is partnered with Anton Yelchin. The two working together to the save their Enterprise family. Yelchin has the most screen time of any appearance of Chekov in the Kelvin timeline. It’s bittersweet, his performance is no better or worse than in previous films. His Chekov has always been underused in the Kelvin timeline. Expectedly the producers have said the character will not be recast for future films.

Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella are both good entries to the series. Jaylah is a compelling character, there’s very little time to explore her backstory fully but given her placement amongst the crew at the end of the film she may well continue in to future films. She has great chemistry with Simon Pegg so pairing the works well on screen. His continued use of the word ‘lassie’ appeared to annoy many in the audience I was with.

Elba is the more compelling of the new newbies in the cast. His villain, Krall, has some frustratingly under developed motivations but is still a good threat to Kirk and co. There are some predictable developments to his story but none that ruin the film overall. Despite this being a relatively obscure appearance for him he still brings his A-game. My pre-conceived idea that Kirk would be meeting the Jem Hadar based on Kralls appearance proved overwhelmingly wrong.

Special effects are excellent. From the fully CGI space scenes to augmenting the Vancouver landscape to become an alien world everything looks great. There are fifty new alien species on show throughout the film, many of which showing of practical and special effects. All also look great and really push the franchise to be the best that it can be.

For the third time in a row Michael Giacchino is providing the score. His work on the previous two films has been outstanding but he excels himself with the new themes in ‘Beyond’. Some of the themes will be familiar to fans of the previous two films but everything is tinged with a bit more of an original ‘Star Trek’ sound. It’s toned down a little from the music we heard in ‘Into Darkness’ but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Verdict

‘Star Trek Beyond’ is fantastic. It’s a great space exploration adventure full of character and almost everything a ‘Star Trek’ fan could want. It feels much less like a wannabe ‘Star Wars’. It’s bound to do a little less business as concerned fans worry about poor reaction to ‘Into Darkness’ but I highly recommend everybody go out and see it!

5 stars

 

 

5 stars

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About Neil Vagg 846 Articles

Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember.

Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men

Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice

Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG