Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond (2016)
Star Trek Beyond (2016)
Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban
Synopsis: The crew of the USS Enterprise and the Federation are threatened by a vengeful nemesis in possession of a deadly bioweapon.
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One has to wonder about the integrity of those parties who enter into a contract to make at least three movies of a new (or rebooted franchise) years before episodes 2 and 3 of the series have even been written. After all, there are no guarantees regarding the quality of the scripts of those movies to come. The success of the first will make stars of any unknown actors lucky enough to bag a leading role and, in turn, their stardom will guarantee an audience for later movies in the series, regardless of their quality. Now, you can’t really blame unknown or up-and-coming actors keen to make a name (and money) for themselves if they grab an offer of steady work when it comes their way. We’d all do the same. But there’s surely a lesser incentive for a studio to produce something of creative value as the last film of the agreement comes along and the prospect of holding onto those now-established actors at an acceptable fee grows increasingly remote.
Such seems to be the case with Star Trek Beyond, the third (or thirteenth) entry in the Star Trek franchise. Effects-heavy and plot-light, it has all the character of a plastic cube with rounded edges. The crew of the USS Enterprise are now three years into their mission to boldly go, and it seems that Kirk (Chris Pine – Smokin’ Aces, Star Trek Into Darkness) is growing a little bored with it all. The episodic nature of life on board the Enterprise is getting him down – and if most of the episodes in the previous three years were as dull as the one on which he’s now about to embark we can hardly blame him. The plot sees him ordered to respond to a distress call from the escape pod survivor of a ship stranded on a remote planet which turns out to be an ambush. As with all the action in Star Trek Beyond, the ambush is a spectacular and impressive incident which sees the doughty old Enterprise literally pulled apart and its key crew members forced to escape in pods to the surface of the nearby planet.
The attack was orchestrated by Krall (an unrecognisable – and occasionally unintelligible – Idris Elba – Pacific Rim, Beasts of No Nation), a man with a major grudge who’s in search of the Abronath, a relic intended as a peace gift on a failed diplomatic mission which turns out to be the missing half of a bioweapon. However, the Abronath has accompanied Kirk’s crew onto the planet, sparking a deadly game of hide and seek as Krall goes to any lengths necessary to get his hands on the potentially devastating artefact.
Directed by Justin Lin in a trademark style that might work on his Fast & Furious movies but feels out of place in a Star Trek movie, Star Trek Beyond retains little of the spirit or sense of comradeship found in the original TV series. Kirk is transformed into a kind of superhero who survives unscathed the sort of bone-breaking punishment that would cripple the strongest, fittest human, simply because filmmakers now have the ability to stage such outlandish computer-generated stunts. Even worse, the team of writers, who include Simon Pegg amongst their number, seem to think all they need do is make constant references to the old show in order to recreate its frankly inimitable atmosphere, but it takes much, much more than that, as is painfully apparent from the finished product.
(Reviewed 16th November 2016)