Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Sofia Boutella
Director: Justin Lin
Running Time: 122 mins
Star Trek Beyond is an American film following the crew of the Starship Enterprise as they venture further into deep space than ever before. However, after coming under fire from a mysterious enemy, they find themselves stranded on a distant planet, with no means of escape.
I’ve been really loving the rebooted Star Trek series. 2009’s Star Trek is one of my favourite sci-fi movies of all time, and Into Darkness is a very solid sequel. However, I’m disappointed to say that Star Trek Beyond doesn’t quite live up to its two predecessors. Whilst there’s still some good popcorn fun to be had, along with a brilliant range of top-quality performances, Beyond feels too generic and messy to be a truly exhilarating and enthralling watch.
The film’s not bad, it’s just missing out on so much that made the first in particular so good. Above all, it seems like Beyond is really going for style over substance. The first movie was an incredible display in mixing fascinating character insight with blockbuster thrills, whilst Into Darkness kept that going with some brilliantly tense and emotional sequences centring around the leads and villains.
In Beyond, the good vibes between all of the crew members aboard the Enterprise mean it’s a somewhat stale affair. Given that everyone on board is getting on famously with one another, there’s nothing particularly personal at stake, leaving only the generic ‘fate of the universe’ as the threat that the Enterprise has to face.
The film starts off on an okay footing, but it was immediately clear to me that there was going to be more focus on big action than great character focus. In the end, what disappointed me most about Beyond was the fact it failed to rectify a very thin opening act as the film went on, and I never felt any truly convincing motives for any of the characters, which was a real shame to see.
Another issue that I have with the film comes from its visuals. Despite being a masterpiece of CGI, just like the previous two have been, Justin Lin’s directing style just doesn’t suit the Star Trek series. Whilst J.J. Abrams gave the action scenes an exhilarating appearance, Lin’s tendency to overuse shaky cam amidst a sea of CGI made every action scene feel messy and misguided, and definitely not exciting or entertaining enough to make up for the losses in character depth.
From the above criticisms, it would seem that I didn’t like Star Trek Beyond at all, but that’s not true. For one, it is still an entertaining watch, and the bulk of the film, which is set on an alien planet in which the crew spend a lot of time exploring (in a very similar fashion to the original TV show), is a lot of fun. The introduction of Jaylah, a badass alien warrior, gave that part of the film a good burst of energy, and it really helped me to have a lot of fun despite the disappointingly predictable and generic plot.
What’s more is that the performances are once again excellent. Chris Pine continues to shine as Captain Kirk, and the supporting cast are all just as impressive and entertaining as the past two movies. I did feel that Beyond lacked the comic relief that Star Trek in particular was so good at, but the range of performances was good enough for me to see past that.
Overall, I was disappointed to see that Star Trek Beyond fell foul to a more generic, blockbuster vibe. Losing the personal drama of the first two, and suffering in its action scenes as a result, it’s rarely an exciting watch. However, its sense of discovery in its main act, along with a heap of great performances, make it a solid and fun watch in the end, and that’s why it gets a 7.4 from me.