The Trekkiest New Star Trek (Star Trek Beyond review)

Star Trek BeyondStar Trek Beyond is the third film in the current on-going pseudo-reboot of the Star Trek film series and sees the crew of the Enterprise deal with yet another unknown threat to the galaxy while becoming stranded on an alien world and seeing, for the Nth time, the Enterprise become destroyed. This time the plot has a multitude of interesting angles and I dare say, this is the “Trekkiest” of the New Star Treks that has come out.

Before discussing the movie further though, I think a few words are in order about the previous two adaptions since I never bothered to write reviews on either of them (indeed, the first J.J. Abrams film came out before I started this blog). Regardless of anyone else’s opinion, I’ve very much enjoyed the new and fresh take on the Star Trek franchise, I’ve enjoyed the cast and I’ve also appreciated the fact that the series has retained its sense of humour and even acknowledged the original series. The 2009 film was an excellent breath of fresh air for these classic characters and Star Trek into Darkness (despite some criticism about the casting of Khan Noonien Singh) was an excellent film which delved deeply into the philosophical aspect of what Starfleet represents and with its only negative aspect being another shoe-horned cameo from the late Leonard Nimoy.

Now, Star Trek Beyond seems to have taken a lot of steps to re-establish some classic Trekky elements of the franchise. The camaraderie of Kirk, Spock and McCoy really stands out in this regard. While Karl Urban’s played the role of Bones admirably in the previous two movies, he’s constantly been forced into the background to always just come in for the perfect irate punch-line. This is the first movie where Jim and Bones as well as Spock and McCoy share some heart-to-heart moments. And McCoy even gets to call Spock a “green-blooded bastard”.

Uhura maybe falls into the background a bit as a result but she still delivers a few key scenes well with Sulu. Still, it’s just nice to see that the new Trek movies can and will focus on individual characters more. Hopefully, Uhura will have slightly bigger parts in future films.

Jaylah, the film’s new female protagonist proves to be a really fun character who stands out well against the established Trek characters (admittedly way more than Alice Eve in the previous film). Her interactions with Scotty are excellent and she also has her own well-developed story. Chekov maybe falls into the background this time (with Pavel trying his hardest to hit up alien women) in the film, which is a bit sad considering he sticks by Kirk’s side pretty much through the whole thing (at least Anton Yelchin gets his own dedication at the end of the film).

There is once again, some slightly hard to follow and hectic action-scenes, but the suspense and plot setup of this film has been handled well. The film doesn’t give too much away and thus the story is able to develop until we finally find out what Krall’s end-game is. Star Trek into Darkness had these moments of mystery as well with the conspiracy plot-line being easily that instalment’s biggest virtue, but anyone with even a tertiary knowledge of Trek-lore could see the twist coming a mile away. By comparison, Beyond keeps its secret far better and until towards the very, very end of the film.

Idris Alba gives a hell of a performance as the film’s villain and was one of my definite highlights. The aliens in this film were all very interesting and was also a breath of fresh air considering the past two instalments focused so heavily on the human characters (even with the Romulan villains in the 2009 film). The comedy was also priceless, from the opening scene, to the various enemy encounters on the planet, to the interesting way in how the Enterprise crew bring down the enemy fleet.

In fact, my only two gripes with the film are incredibly minor and really don’t devalue the movie all that much. Despite Leonard Nimoy’s passing, the film once again manages to rope in the time-travelling Spock’s storyline into itself. Admittedly, it’s far less stupid than in the previous film and in fact ties integrally to one of the core themes of the film, so I won’t count it against the movie. In fact, I was maybe more disappointed to find out what Krall’s ultimate motivation was but this was revealed so late in the film and I was so impressed by the other character twist related to him that it honestly only annoyed me for a short period (spoiler: Krall basically has the same end-game as the last film’s villain, to prove that war-waging trumps peace). Still, I was maybe expecting something a bit more spectacular.

Over-all, I’m very impressed with how good Star Trek Beyond is as a movie over-all. I had serious fears about the film’s direction with the movie changing directors, but Justin Lin has clearly understood what Trek is about and the film is strong because of it. It’s also distinct enough from its predecessor that it doesn’t feel like just more of the same. Highly recommended if you liked the last two films, but even if you didn’t, I think you’ll find this movie to be closer to classic Trek.

Score: 4½ out of 5

  • +2 Spock, McCoy and Kirk!!
  • +1 Jaylah – Excellent new female protagonist for the Trek-series
  • +1 The comedy and writing – Simon Pegg’s done a great job
  • Idris Alba plays a hell of a villain…
  • -½ …but his end-game’s a little weak.
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