‘Star Trek Beyond’ MOVIE REVIEW: A Fun Return to Classic Formula

Image via Paramount Pictures
Image via Paramount Pictures

I would be an idiot to suggest that people suspend their disbelief when watching a Star Trek movie, and so excuse my idiocy when I say, “do just that.” Once you accept the fact that Scotty and Chekov are (obviously) engineering masterminds who can solve all mechanical dilemmas ““ regardless of magnitude ““ with a simple “Eh, Captain!”, then you are well-prepared to handle everything else.

The crew of the Starship USS Enterprise return for their next adventure, led by Captain James T. Kirk and his ever-logical first officer Mr. Spock. This third instalment of the revived franchise joins them three years into a five-year mission, when they are attacked by an unknown enemy and forced to abandon ship. Marooned on a rugged planet, along with other alien species that were previously sabotaged by the same enemy, Kirk and his crew race against time to escape the planet and elude the vicious villain who put them there.

Star Trek Beyond is precisely what the long-standing franchise is all about. It embodies all of the qualities that have given the saga such an enduring legacy, and it represents an old-fashioned style of cinema that often gets lost among overly complicated narratives and the battle for box-office dominance. Adventure and humanity have been the foundation of Star Trek for the past 50 years, and the new adventure adheres to those principals. Furthermore, the latest instalment throws back to a simplistic style of storytelling that the original television series relied on so heavily.

Following the impressive 2009 reboot film, Star Trek, and its lacklustre sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond leaps onto the screen with a renewed energy and hits the ground running. Without a dull moment throughout its entire 122-minute running time, it presents an adventure that could have been lifted straight out of a classic serial magazine, and proves to be the best film in the new series so far.

Image via Paramount Pictures
Image via Paramount Pictures

The large ensemble is more in tune with their characters than ever before and have found their rhythm amongst the mayhem. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto can rest assured that their tenure as Kirk and Spock is absolutely legitimate. The fellow cast members also hold their own, and Anton Yelchin’s Chekov occupies more screen time then ever before, which serves as a fitting tribute to him following his tragic passing.

Idris Elba joins the alumni of Star Trek villains as Krall, a mysterious amphibian-like monster with a personal vendetta against the Federation. His fiendish performance fits well within that classic vain and his character recalls the malevolence of Khan (The Wrath of Khan), and General Chang (The Undiscovered Country). Trekkies will be thrilled with his performance, and his on-screen persona should earn him a place in the pantheon of Star Trek villains.

The other newcomer to the series is Sofia Boutella as Jaylah, a marooned humanoid whose resourcefulness helps the Enterprise crew confront their foe. She is a character that could have been lifted straight out of the original series, if not from The Hunger Games or Avatar. And while she isn’t the most inspired character, she is certainly a welcome heroine amongst an otherwise testosterone-fuelled alliance.

As with the previous instalments, Beyond retains its ties to the original film series and keeps the story within the canon, while setting itself apart from the previous two chapters by returning to the classic formula with a welcome mix of kitsch and clarity. I cannot deny that nonsensical moments are present, but I can certainly choose to ignore them. With its stunningly envisioned cityscapes, pedal-to-the-floor ferocity and its joyous enthusiasm, Star Trek Beyond is a deliberately antiquated adventure that reminds us how much fun cinema can be.




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