The Star Trek brand is coming back in a big way in 2016. With a new TV series on the horizon as well as the latest blockbuster movie entry, it is a pretty good time for fans out there. So how does this new feature fare?
The USS Enterprise is tasked with a rescue mission, after a surviving crew member claims her ship is stranded within an uncharted Nebula. The team sets out , but no sooner get stuck within a freak-attack which takes out the Enterprise. Now, they too are stranded on the strange planet, and they must survive the aftermath which discovering who was behind the destruction of their ship.
For the purists out there, I apologise for giving out some spoilers. The early synopsis is tricky to talk about without mentioning those primary moments, but it shouldn’t hurt your enjoyment of it if you are going to see it in the next few days. Around 80% of the running time takes places on the strange planet, and I will leave much of the details relating to that under wraps. Where “Star Trek: Into Darkness” angered many fans by dragging back a crucial moment from the classic movie series and butchering it, this seems to go back and take inspirations from the classic TV series. And do it rather well actually. There’s more of an emphasis on discovering the unknown, surviving the new environments, taking out the local bad guys, and saving the day. Textbook story line in that sense, but in a modern big-budget Sci Fi film, I enjoyed seeing them pull this off. It feels like a blend that will satisfy the big fans, along with the casual audience in equal parts.
That opening attack on the Enterprise is the primary moment of major action in the movie, at least on an epic scale. And it was a sledgehammer moment too – absolutely brutal and glues you to the edge of your seat. We’ve seen mass destruction in the previous films, but it feels particularly harsh here, maybe because it is the ship itself that is being slaughtered. The ship is a character in itself, and is what the crew depends on to do what they do. So seeing it ripped apart kind of leaves you feeling a bit sick. The effects are especially outstanding for the sequence and the tension builds ever so steadily and with great effectiveness
But as I said, the majority of the running time concentrates on the crew surviving the situation on the planet, and hosts the focus of the characterisation. We meet a new character here – a scavenger named Jaylah who is also stranded. She is just really nicely developed and never feels like her place in the story is only for convenience. She plays a major part and provides a lot of the interesting conversations that take place. A really solid performance by Sofia Boutella and a refreshing new character that doesn’t feel short-term. All the regulars return too of course – Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Uhura, mcCoy, and the sadly-passed Anton Yelchin as Chekov. There are some character elements that are expanded upon, new arcs to trace along, but they are instantly familiar and help get the movie going straight away. The main villain has some interesting elements, but not to the point of being truly memorable or outstanding. There’s just enough there for him to serve his purpose, some nice scenes of intimidation, but not a huge deal more than that.
It’s funny really – that the film has an interesting story, very good characters, excellent effects, does some very creative showpieces, and gets the action moments spot on. All this set up, this should be on par with the 2009 movie which got all those elements on target as well. But then again… I wasn’t blown away by all of it. It was very entertaining, had some funny moments and everything, but by the end I was left thinking that it had shot all the arrows in a neat little spot, just not hitting the centre. I should mention as well that the inclusion of the song as a crucial pivot point in the plot was just plain silly. It doesn’t sit particularly well in a universe where scientific accuracy is something that the directors and writers try to aim for as often as they can.
I honestly can’t tell you why I didn’t fall in love with “Star Trek: Beyond”, I mean, everything was there. It was a great recipe and even had some beautiful moments to honour Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin. But as I write this, I look back upon it more with a sense of respect than love. Maybe it was a bit too clinical in the design, or maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood while watching it. Either way, it just fell short of the mark that I am certain for others, it will have easily met for them. But with all that said, there is a lot here to recommend, it looks fucking outstanding on the big screen, and has plenty of really solid performances by the cast. Definitely check it out to make up your mind on what you think.
Thanks for reading!