Star Trek Beyond (2016). A thrilling addition to the series, find out why in my review.

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Film review by Jason Day of the latest Star Trek film, Star Trek Beyond starring Chris Pine, Zachary Qunito and Idris Elba, directed by Justin Lin.

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Director: Justin Lin. Paramount/Bad Robot/Perfect Storm/Skydance/Sneaky Shark. (12a).

Science Fiction

4stars - Very good lots to enjoy

Synopsis, from IMDb.com

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.

Review, by Jason DayStar Trek Beyond poster

I am no Trekkie (or Trekker, as Wikipedia suggests describe fans of Star Trek) so I had to do a bit of prep for this film beforehand, namely watching the previous instalment, Into the Darkness, a viewing of which had hitherto eluded me.

One thing I was immediately struck by on seeing Beyond the next day is how similar the two films are.

We start with a comic action sequence and are then re-introduced to the crew and the ship. We receive a familiar mission statement about an alien form attacking someone and are then off to boldly go god knows where to sort this out, the drama peppered at regular intervals by thrilling action set pieces.

I found it difficult to detect where one of them ended and the other began, as nonsense spills over into more nonsense and the script (co-written by star Pegg, ‘Scotty’. Obviously no accident that Pegg gets more to do) of tongue-tieing pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo convulses into a geek’s masturbatory death-spasm .

Simon Pegg gets some action...for once.

Simon Pegg gets some action…for once.

I don’t recall too much of Into the Darkness. This might be for the better when judging this latest film as one thing Star Trek, like a lot of science fiction fantasy film, does very well is outdo its predecessor, upping the terrifically techy ante.

There needs to be well deserved applause for production designer Thomas E. Sanders and his magnificent mini-planet Yorktown, or the ‘snow globe in space’ as Karl Urban’s Dr ‘Bones’ McCoy correctly observes). With obvious nods toward the space station in Elysium, he is rewarded in full on screen as there are lots of swooping shots of its vertiginous, gravity defying skyscrapers, giddying to experience in 3D.

(NB: Am I coming out here as a closet sci-fi geek? Surely only they could remember such things to make these connections?!).

Where Into the Darkness felt safe to dip the audience into an on-screen fracas every 25 minutes or so, Beyond forgoes any close relationship to straight drama and goes pedal to the metal and warp speeds throughout.

This film is, at the very least, throat-grabbingly exciting. The stand alone scene here is the extended attack by the usual, vengeance-seeking, ugly alien (Elba, noticeably using a thick, African accent. Is this another example of Star Trek’s latent racism/xenophobia?) on the Enterprise. 

This is a sequence that really doesn’t let up on you. The 3D process is brilliantly used to give you that stomach-heaving feeling as the ship tumbles through space and being torn to pieces by the atmosphere of a too-close-for-comfort planet. And just when you think the crippled starship is out for the count, the writers come up with another ingenious way to thrill the audience.

Either this means they have no other ideas to fill a 2 hour plot or Pegg and Jung know their sci-fi stuff so well they can at least keep the relentless action flowing so proficiently. As I said, the drama takes a back seat in this film.

(It also helps that they make foot-tapping use of ‘classical’ music to complement: The Beastie Boys’ Sabotage).

The team at Industrial Light & Magic are thusly kept on their toes and best, if not better, anything they’ve produced previously.

All in all, a great popcorn film that even works in what appears to be a little EU referendum reference. As Elba notes the federation (EU?) has pushed too far and the frontier (UK?) is fighting back, I can’t help but wonder how Starfleet negotiate an intergalactic Brexit?

See the official trailer.

Cast & credits

Producers: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Roberto Orci.
Writers: Simon Pegg, Doug Jung.
Camera: Stephen F. Windom.
Music: Michael Giacchino.
Sets: Thomas E. Sanders.

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim, Lydia Wilson, Deep Roy, Melissa Roxburgh.

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