OK, so I’m a Star Trek fan being old enough to have watched the original series BEFORE it was in re-runs! But Star Trek Beyond just plain disappoints. It’s not terrible… but it’s not great either.
It’s Star Date 2263.2 and Kirk (Chris Pine) is into the third year of their “5 year mission” (which seems to somehow throw away a lot of potential sequel opportunities already doesn’t it?). Less buoyant and confident than he used to be, Kirk is feeling a little emotionally ‘Lost in Space’: after all, as the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy put it “Space is big… REALLY big”. Spock (Zachary Quinto) also receives some news of a personal nature that unsettles him. They are both in need of a vacation, and Starbase Yorktown (queue some spectacular special effects and an operatic Michael Giacchino track) appears to be able to offer them that. The crew disperse for a bit of R and R: Sulu (John Cho) goes off to spend time with his family (after the big internet furore, the gay aspect of this is very subtle); Kirk gets career advice from the Admiral; and Spock and Uhuru (Zoe Saldana) go their separate ways since – like Ross and Rachael – they are “on a break”.
The reverie is rudely interrupted by the arrival of a frantic alien called Kalara (Lydia Wilson) from the other side of a dense nebula. She needs help to rescue her crew, stranded on a planet there. Kirk’s rescue mission however goes far from to-plan, and he and his crew are caught in the clutches of the warlord Krall (Idris Elba).
What’s nice about this film is that the core crew of Kirk, Spock, Uhuru, Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu and Chekov (the tragically departed Anton Yelchin) gel together really nicely as an ensemble cast. The traditional by-play between the characters feels unforced, comedic and provides a warmth at the heart of the film. There is also a touching tribute to Leonard Nimoy, who died while the film was in pre-production, woven into the story of which I’m sure he would have approved.
Supporting the crew as a potential new character is the strikingly attractive and kick-ass Jaylah played by Sofia Boutella (the evil amputee Gazelle from “Kingsman”).
There’s also some fine and innovative alien technology on display with the ‘swarm-like’ alien fleet harking back (in an expanded scale) to the invulnerability of the nanites from an original episode.
Unfortunately, all of these positives are severely offset by a largely planet-bound Simon Pegg and Doug Jung story (didn’t the woeful “Insurrection” teach writers that this tends not to be a good idea?) and action sequences that are so manically fast-moving that it is almost impossible to keep track of what exactly is happening. (Perversely, this is a film that might actually make more sense on the small screen than the big one, which is just BAD CINEMA!). There was even one point in a final fight scene where I seriously feared Kirk and Krall might have a ‘sharing of mother’s names’ moment (if you know what I mean) but fortunately this script apocalypse is avoided.
At the conclusion the story actually makes no sense to me at all: without spoilers, it is difficult to discern exactly what the motivations of Krall actually were. Throw in a graphic in the final reel that looks like Krall is attacking the Death Star (no, seriously – watch for it!) and the concoction just doesn’t hang together very well. I know Simon Pegg and director Justin (“Fast and Furious”) Lin are huge Trekkers, but – sorry guys – this was a C- for me.
It’s a mildly diverting popcorn movie, but with (for me at least) yet another disappointing film, its getting to the point where the best ‘summer blockbuster’ is likely to be Deadpool… and that was released in February!
Fad Rating: FFF.