Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Idris Elba, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Sofia Boutella
Director: Justin Lin
Thirteen is a strange number. Considered by many as numinously unlucky (The Savoy hotel refuse to take bookings for 13 guests, Apollo 13 didn’t exactly go by the book), yet the Aztecs worshipped the feared integer, the goddess Tlazolteotl ruled the 13th Trecena for cripes sake. By some prime number introductory baloney, Star Trek: Beyond is the thirteenth outing on the big screen for the crew of the USS Enterprise. Beyond is the third in the new rebooted version of the classic 60s television show as it explores new adventures of the original crew lead by the Chris Pine version of Kirk and his loyal red and blue coats.
As Into Darkness was perceived as too serious and dark, JJ Abrams has handed directorial duties over to action-maniac Lin and writing responsibilities to Simon Pegg to attempt to lighten things up somewhat. The result feels more like a farce than a true Star Trek movie. Like Pegg’s TV output, plot is constantly ignored for daft one-liners; fine for Spaced, not so much on a feature length Star Trek. The plot is so terribly undeviating that it quickly feels like a never-ending slog to the final fight. The Enterprise gets smashed up again, the crew get marooned on a prison planet, they plot, they escape, they triumph. It’s that boringly simple. Elba’s Krall is possibly the most innocuous super-baddy in the history of science fiction, looking almost exactly the same as his minions but for a slightly extended growl and two inches in height. At no point does he seem to be insurmountable. The way the alien invasion is eventually curtailed is possibly the most disgracefully pitiful piece of writing ever to be witnessed on film. As a sci-fi obsessive, Pegg should be forced to look at himself in the mirror for a long time repeating the scene with a pair of ceremonial Klingon bat’leth stuck in each ear.
In its favour, it’s impossible to ignore just how perfectly this cast has been assembled. The likeness each character has to their original series counterpart is stunning, and great credit has to be given to both the casting and the actors themselves for bringing them back to life on the big screen. Bones (Urban) has much more screen time this time around and the movie is much better for it. Uhuru (Saldana) still doesn’t seem to get enough lines but she seems now to be in the minority. Pine and Quinto continue their excellent performances as Kirk and Spock respectively, even if the plot around them is rapidly dropping through the atmosphere of the nearest M-class planet.
Star Trek: Beyond will split fans and general movie-goers alike. For those who like their sci-fi to tickle the intellect, it will be a massive disappointment, for those who prefer big scenes and munching popcorn, it will be a passable brainless blockbuster. If Abrams is going to continue his involvement in the franchise, then he needs to reel in the silliness and align the next outings with the more cerebral writings of the late twentieth century Star Trek.
3 / 10