Beyond the darkness, lies greatness.
Star Trek Beyond, a science fiction, action-adventure film, directed by Justin Lin (of the Fast and Furious franchise fame), is the third film in the popular rebooted Star Trek film franchise and brings the entire crew of the USS Enterprise back to the silver screen.
The film opens with the crew feeling all too dejected, three years into their five year voyage across deep space. The effects of the long, monotonous period of seclusion and isolation has taken its toll on the crew, with Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Lieutenant Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana)’s relationship being over, Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (John Cho) missing his daughter and partner, Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Simon Pegg) having a tough time keeping the Enterprise operational with limited supplies, and Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) questioning his motivations for leading his crew.
During a stopover to replenish supplies at the heavily populated StarBase, Yorktown, an escape pod arrives with its distressed occupant requesting help to find her lost ship and crew. The Enterprise is sent, with Captain Kirk at the helm. However, what was supposed to be a simple rescue mission turns into a quest for survival as the Enterprise suffers an overwhelming attack from a powerful swarm of alien ships (whose attacks mimics that of a swarm of bees).
The premise of Star Trek Beyond is nothing new. There are good guys and there are bad guys. There’s an evil alien being hell bent on destroying the world, most likely as an act of vengeance and revenge, and then there’s the team of heroes, working together to save the world. The concept has been reused multiple times over, across various films; being set in space and on different planets only adds a new environment to the story.
With such a recycled and tired plot, I had expected the film to utilise some creativity to make the story interesting or at the very least, add some extra plot twists to add more depth and excitement to the film’s story. Unfortunately, I may have set my standards a bit too high as personally, there was nothing story-wise that really caught my attention and secured my interest in the film.
The characters of Star Trek Beyond all remained true to their Star Trek TV series counterparts and previous Star Trek films. Where usually the leader of the group is the main hero and steals the show, it was refreshing to see Scotty (Simon Pegg) play a much larger role in this film. Compared to the rest of the cast, it was Scotty, Bones (Karl Urban) and new addition, alien warrior, Jaylah (Sofia Boutella of Kingsman fame) that stole the show this time around. I really enjoyed Jaylah as a character. Her accent, fighting prowess and skills in technology is impressive and added a much needed boost of sincerity to the entire cast. As for Simon Pegg? I’m a fan and the man, regardless of the roles he plays, can’t seem to do any wrong.
Anton Yelchin’s Chekov, was also a highlight. It was bittersweet to watch him on screen, knowing that we will never see him in future films. There was no doubt that Yelchin was a talented man. His portrayal of Chekov was spot on and certainly brought about a loveable charm to the character. Both Yelchin and his version of Chekov will forever be remembered, alongside Leonard Nimoy (the original Spock in the Star Trek television series), who the film paid tribute to in a rather touching way.
As for the villain of the film? I wasn’t impressed. In fact, the villain of Star Trek Beyond may be one of the worst that I’ve seen next to the rebooted version of Fantastic Four’s Dr. Doom. As a powerful villain, Krall did not inspire any fear, in my opinion. Sure, the weapon he acquired to destroy the world was immensely powerful and dangerous, but Krall himself was just another evil creature wanting revenge. Whilst there was a back-story and reason behind his quest for revenge, the development and explanation of this story was short. Had there been more depth, there would have been a lot more reason to feel and/or identify with the villain’s pain and rage. In my personal opinion, the villain in Star Trek Beyond was effectively, bland. To have an actor of Idris Elba’s talent too? A lot more could have been done. I’d like to think that the intriguing aspects of the film was rushed due to time constraints.
As a side note, is anyone else tired of Kirk’s constant lamenting about his dear old dad? I understand that growing up without a father is tough but a grown man should be able to move on and deal with the loss silently. Unless, as a character, Kirk is nothing more than a man trying to live up to his father’s reputation. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next Star Trek film (which was recently announced and will include an appearance by George Kirk, James T. Kirk’s father, himself). Perhaps the events of Star Trek Beyond finally gave Kirk Jr. insight into his true calling and purpose for leading the Enterprise crew.
While the story was tired and the characters lacking in any real development since the previous two films, Star Trek Beyond was still enjoyable to watch. As a fan of special effects and alluring visuals, it was amazing to see just how pretty space is. Urbanisation and new technologies has always been interesting to me so being exposed to what the future could hold for us is quite thrilling. The StarFleet ships and cityscape of the StarBase, Yorktown, was just stunning; not to mention the stellar lighting effects that the film utilised to depict outer space war.
When thinking about this film’s tagline, ‘Beyond the darkness, lies greatness’, it almost feels as if Star Trek Beyond is overcompensating to try to keep up with other popular films that have released this year. Perhaps this film is simply a stepping stone, a mark of the USS Enterprise crew growing up and moving on from being an immature team of space explorers to becoming one of the best crews of the entire StarFleet. Perhaps the next film will prove to be a more worthwhile tale. I most definitely hope so.
Star Trek Beyond wasn’t my cup of tea storywise, but despite its shortcomings, it still managed to keep me in my seat. Any Star Trek or sci-fi fan will find some aspect of the film to enjoy and if not, at least the visuals will leave you satisfied. Whether the story is dull or not, I’d recommend watching the film, simply as a tribute to Anton Yelchin and as support to Simon Pegg’s acting.
*For more pop culture and anime rantings and reviews, check out my blog, The Vanguard.
Released: July 2016
Running Time: 122 minutes
Director: Justin Lin
Producer: J. J. Abrams
Genre: Scifi, Action
Starring: John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba
Distributor: Paramount Pictures