Star Trek Beyond review

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I’ve not had much free time to write reviews. However I will make an exception and write something about Star Trek Beyond which I saw on the day it opened.

I will try to steer clear of major spoilers, but to be honest the footage in the trailers gave me a pretty good idea of what the overall story would be.

Namely…
· Kirk is a bit introspective
· Enterprise visits fancy pants new star base
· Enterprise goes to some planet
· A Swarm of little ships kick the crap out of the Enterprise (which may or may not crash on planet)
· Crew gets captured by some aliens
· Some of the bridge crew don’t get captured but get separated
· Scotty meets ass-kicking alien lady
· Crew find another ship
· Crew fight the swarm again and presumably win
· Kirk does some fighting in the fancy pants new star base

And that’s pretty much what happens in the Simon Pegg penned movie. But I guess it’s not the destination that’s important but the journey. Or something.

So the Enterprise is almost three years into its five year mission according to the “captain’s log” voiceover that Chris Pine gives early in the movie. Things have settled into a routine, albeit a routine that has Kirk returning from an encounter with aliens on a planet and lamenting that he’s ripped another shirt. There’s a nice scene early on with Kirk and McCoy sharing a drink to celebrate Kirk’s birthday, no doubt a nod to Wrath of Khan. Although in this timeline there’s the added detail that Kirk’s birthday is the same day his father died on the USS Kelvin. (Also at the end of the scene I noticed they toasted having good eyesight – that may be another reference to WOK where McCoy gives Kirk eye glasses.)

I have to say I liked Chris Pine in this one. His character of Kirk has matured and feels more… Well, Kirk-like. Also it’s nice to finally see Karl Urban’s McCoy get lots of stuff to do. (Other than slap his head and exclaim “Khan’s magic blood!”)

The Enterprise arrives at the fancy pants new star base Yorktown, which honesty is pretty OTT with skyscrapers pointing in all directions and rivers running over the top of star ship docking tubes. While there it transpires that both Kirk and Spock have independently started having doubts about their future in Starfleet.

Word comes to the star base of a ship needing rescued on a planet inside a nearby nebula and Kirk’s Enterprise is dispatched on this mission. Only thing is I’ve seen the trailer so I know the Enterprise is going to get the crap kicked out of it. And it does. It’s a major sequence in the first act of the movie and the action comes thick and fast (and furious).

The being responsible for the attack and capturing most of the crew is Krall played by Idris Elba. He is looking for a plot McGuffin (that apparently is on the Enterprise) as part of a bigger goal.

Soon Kirk and the others are stranded on the planet and have to try to regroup and escape. Scotty meets a new character called Jaylah (played by Sofia Boutella) who is an ass-kicking alien lady with memorable white and black make up.

And she’s brilliant.

Jaylah is the best thing in the movie. That’s not to denigrate anyone or anything else in the movie. But she’s brilliant. I found her totally endearing and I just wanted to adopt her and go on space adventures with her.

The movie has the good sense to team up Spock with McCoy. The back-and-forth between those two characters was always a major factor in the original show and we get a lot of it here. There are many classic grumpy McCoy lines throughout the movie.

Through Jaylah Scotty discovers they may have a way to get off the planet and he soon regroups with Kirk, Spock and the others and they plan a rescue of the rest of the crew.

Then in the final act we discover that Krall is not exactly what we thought he was. It’s a nice little plot twist that I didn’t see coming and I’d like to see the movie again to look out for the clues.

I had read much about how the movie was going to feature a villain that would cause the Enterprise crew (and by extension the audience) to question the ideals of the Federation. Well, to be honest I’m not sure they came anywhere close to doing that. If anything I think we could have done with just a little more about Krall and his motivations. But the twist does make him a memorable character.

There is a lot of action in this movie. But sprinkled throughout are lots of character moments. Of the three reboot movies this is the one that most purely follows the original series template of having an “adventure of the week”.

Before I forget I want to have a word about the music by Michael Giacchino. To be honest I found it a bit lacking. Maybe it got lost in the midst of all the action, but it just sounded very samey, very Hollywood. I guess I just miss the kind of stuff James Horner and Jerry Goldsmith did on Wrath of Khan and First Contact. Memorable tunes that stay with you. Maybe when I see “Beyond” again some of the music will leap out at me.

What I did like about the movie is how there is a much better sharing of screen time across the main characters. I would say that Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty all have equal screen time along with new character Jaylah.

Towards the end of the movie watch out for a very nice little tribute to the original cast.

So in summary Star Trek Beyond is a very entertaining and fast moving adventure that packs a lot into the two hour running time. It maybe didn’t have the 50th anniversary “spine tingling” moments I was hoping for. But it did have Jaylah. And that’s good enough.