Star Trek: Beyond (2016) Review: Saviour of the Summer
When J.J Abrams was announced as the director of ‘The Force Awakens’ I thought “How amazing is it that one man gets to bring both Star Trek and Star Wars to a new generation”. Abrams has always proclaimed to be more of a Star Wars fan so, it seemed to be a better fit. However, after seeing what he did with both franchises, I’m inclined to think differently. The worst thing about ‘The Force Awakens’ is being to beholden to the original material. The best thing about Abrams’ ‘Star Trek’, is that it isn’t. Sometimes it’s better to get eyes from outside the fandom to create things for the fandom. Then again, the man made ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’, which was problematic for being a remake of ‘Wrath of Khan’, so maybe I’m just spewing trash.
You should probably just forget that movie anyway, since that’s exactly what ‘Star Trek Beyond’ wants you to do, and it gives you a pretty solid film in return. Set three years into the 5 year journey of the USS Enterprise, the movie of course follows Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the crew you’ve come to know and love. When a routine rescue mission goes south, and the ship comes crashing down, that crew is left stranded, without resources and Simon Pegg. No it’s not a Mission Impossible movie, I promise.
Beyond the galaxy’s oldest bromance, this movie actually has quite a bit of character. The characters are left momentarily separated in the second act of the film, getting around the problem ensemble films usually have. Instead of struggling to get to each character in a big group, you spend time with smaller groups instead. Following the duo of Karl Urban’s ‘Bones’ and Zachary Quinto’s ‘Spock’ is a highlight, as the sarcastic one of the group bounces quips off the abnormally genuine alien.This time around, Chris Pine’s ‘Captain Kirk’ isn’t exactly sure if he even wants to be a Captain. His heart just isn’t in the dangerous, exciting adventure game anymore. Before he has a chance to contemplate that though, he’s thrust into another dangerous, exciting adventure. Starfleet has no room for existentialism. His other half has issues of his own, as Zachary Quinto’s Spock suffers the most intense form of survivor’s guilt I’ve ever seen. When a man breaks it off with Zoe Saldana because of his duty to further his near extinct species, you know it’s bad.
Action wise, this movie is quite focused. It has an energy that never really goes away. It’s the type of action movie that feels as though it has a degree of thought behind it. ‘Star Trek Beyond’ isn’t just coherent, it’s inventive. Justin Lin was an unlikely choice for the movie, but the shots he chooses to tell his story have a sense of genuine creativity behind them. Not at all the type of stuff you’d expect from a big franchise film like this one.Aside from stellar performances from the regular cast, the movie introduces Sofia Boutella’s ‘Jayla’, an alien that our heroes meet on their journey. Her introduction is remarkably well done, instantly feeling like she belongs and a treat whenever she’s on screen. Another stand out is Idris Elba’s villainous ‘Krall’. He’s an imposing figure that feels like a genuine threat. It’s a testament to Elba’s performance that I was able to feel his charisma underneath all his character’s alien make up.
‘Star Trek Beyond’ is a lot like the ‘Star Trek’ of 2009. It’s exciting, clever, and thoughtful when it needs to be. It has an excellent grasp of its tone, never feeling too dark or too light. If you’d told me at the beginning of the summer that this would be one of my favourite movies, I’d call you crazy. Now, with a summer that’s been mostly a mixed bag, it’s a lot easier to believe. ‘Star Trek Beyond’ is a definite Big Screen Watch.
Rating: Big Screen Watch