Home > mint-lounge > features > Film review: Star Trek Beyond

Like the last film in the Fast And Furious series, Star Trek Beyond is marked and made poignant by death. Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock in the original TV series and made a guest appearance in the 2009 reboot, died before shooting started. He’s paid tribute to in the film, something that couldn’t be done for Anton Yelchin, who died in a freak accident in June. Seeing him on screen as Chekov is disconcerting and distressing, like watching the final bow of a ghost.

I would be misrepresenting Star Trek Beyond, though, if I made it sound like an Ingmar Bergman production aboard the Enterprise. Justin Lin’s film is actually quite a cheery affair—there’s little philosophical hand-wringing, and whenever things get emotional there’s always McCoy (Karl Urban) on hand with a dry remark. Lin has directed four of the seven Fast And Furious films, and if there’s one thing he knows, it’s how to blitz through a 2-hour running time at warp speed. When Kirk (Chris Pine) says at the start that his job has become predictable, even episodic, it’s almost like the director is throwing down a challenge for himself.

On a mission into uncharted space to rescue a stranded ship, the Enterprise comes under attack from a swarm of ships commanded by the villainous Krall. Though his features are warped beyond recognition, Krall is played by Idris Elba, which begs the question: When you have Elba in your film, why bury him under layers of make-up? The Enterprise comes apart in the attack and crashlands on Krall’s planet. The rest of the film is dedicated largely to Kirk, Spock (Zachary Quinto), Scotty (Simon Pegg, also the film’s co-writer), Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Chekhov regrouping and, with the help of new ally Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), trying to stop Krall before he constructs a giant weapon of some sort that’s powered by an artefact in Kirk’s possession.

If the last film in this series proved anything, it’s that there’s only place for one tall, white, unemotional character in a Star Trek film—and that person has pointy ears. Star Trek Beyond returns to the eternal love story between Kirk and Spock, with McCoy as wry commentator and Uhura temporarily cast aside. It’s reassuring to hear the two express, like shy lovers, their admiration for each other, just as it’s nice to be able to count on Chekov’s enthusiasm or Scotty’s creative panic. There’s nothing remotely path-breaking about this film, but the visible affection of the actors for the characters they’re playing makes Star Trek Beyond more enjoyable than any third film in a franchise has a right to be.

Star Trek Beyond released in theatres on Friday

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