While 2009’s STAR TREK reboot was a fresh take on the mythos, sequel INTO DARKNESS took a darker turn that many felt simply wasn’t consistent with the STAR TREK vision. The introduction of Khan Noonien Singh was a bit of a mess; viewed by many as an unnecessary introduction to an already over-stuffed movie. When the trailer for STAR TREK BEYOND dropped a few months ago, it seemed that the filmmakers were pulling back from the dark precipice: promising a more fun, colourful and adventurous film.
The great news is that’s exactly what BEYOND is. If you like SF adventure movies, you’ll no doubt find BEYOND to be a lot of fun.
The film is far more straightforward than previous movies in the reboot; essentially one big crash sequence. The crew of the Enterprise are now well into their five-year mission, and allowed some R & R on Yorktown Station. This is cut short by the arrival of an unexpected ship – piloted by a single alien whose crew are apparently stranded on a neighbouring world. Kirk volunteers to take the Enterprise into unexplored space to find the survivors. It’s quickly revealed, however, that this has been a ploy. The Enterprise is attacked by an unknown alien enemy, and the crew are scattered across the planet…
This is now the third STAR TREK movie in the rebooted timeline, and the cast are having a lot of fun with their roles. Simon Pegg’s love for the franchise is well documented, and he clearly has respect for the series. Pine has grown into his Shatner-esque portrayal of Kirk, and his bromance with Quinto’s Spock continues to entertain. Meanwhile, Karl Urban remains one of my favourite actors in SF and the McCoy-Spock scenes show another side to the Enterprise’s crew dynamic. As an aside, if the film rights to ARTEFACT are ever sold, Karl Urban is my first choice for Captain Harris… He’s an awesome actor, in an already strong cast.
Although the plot is relatively simple, it does hold some twists later in the running. In particular, Idris Elba’s Krall is not all that he seems. I had mixed feelings about this “reveal”. On the one hand, the fact that Krall is not wholly alien was an interesting complication. On the other, there have actually been few truly alien antagonists in the revised TREK universe; I would’ve liked to see the rest of Krall’s species. The reveal that he’s “just one of us” was disappointing in that sense.
The handling of Leonard Nimoy’s passing is also addressed in BEYOND, in an in-universe style. This was very touching; made all the more poignant by the death of Anton Yelchin. Of course, he sadly passed away after BEYOND was finished, and this is one of his last movies. The film is dedicated to both Nimoy and Yelchin.
Overall, STAR TREK BEYOND is a return to form for the rebooted series. It doesn’t have the depth of classic TREK, but in the confines of a SF action movie this is a good example of the genre.
Are you after more SF space-based adventure? Then you should definitely check out THE LAZARUS WAR… ARTEFACT and LEGION are out now, and the final book in the trilogy – ORIGINS – is due to be released on 24th August. See you on the other side!