By Thomas Simpson
Considering the pull the Star Trek brand carries, I couldn’t help but feel that the marketing campaign for Star Trek Beyond was lackluster at best. Reaction to the initial teaser trailer was negative as fans, critics and writer Simon Pegg felt that the action-packed tone was out of place with the rebooted series. With Justin Lin on board, the trailer suggested that the film could be Fast and Furious in space as Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) zoomed about on a dirt bike performing heroic stunts to the Beastie Boys iconic song, Sabotage.
Star Trek boasts a hardcore and loyal fan base so it’s understandable that they would be skeptical in a shift in style after J.J. Abrams steered the franchise into the current era. Their fears should be alleviated as Beyond is a great film, a fun and action packed entry to the series with a focused screenplay that’s not overblown.
New writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung present a tight script that plays out like a classic episode of the original show while Lin bolsters the visuals with a bombastic Hollywood production. The space battles are epic as the Enterprise is ripped apart by an alien swarm exposing the vulnerability of Star Fleet. The pacing allows for no lulls as the story is kept moving, assisted with entertaining set-pieces that are a joy to watch.
The plot is fairly simple as the Enterprise is ambushed by Idris Elba’s villainous Krall as they embark on a rescue mission. The majority of the crew find themselves imprisoned by Krall on an alien planet as Kirk, Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban) hatch a plan to rescue them. Scottie (Pegg) later joins the fray accompanied by newcomer Sofia Boutella as Jaylah.
The cast have long since gelled and showcase their great chemistry here. Pine is excellent as Kirk once again merging the trademark charm alongside a ruthless streak that adds depth to the character. Urban and Quinto embark on a buddy movie for a short period with the latter playing the straight man to the former’s wit. It’s a great combination that leaves us wanting more as opposed to us clock watching. It feels like Idris Elba is in everything these days, but with good reason. He’s a brilliant talent who helps create a menacing bad guy, unfortunately some of his dialogue was either lost in the mix or in the cinema’s audio.
Star Trek Beyond won’t be remembered as a classic film but it is one of the more enjoyable entries to the long-running franchise. It has a light and breezy air to it that makes for an easy watch. Some fans may gripe it doesn’t have the gravitas of the previous two films; however, neither is it weighed down by its own self-importance, my biggest criticism of Into Darkness with the Khan debacle. A pleasing sci-fi adventure that stays true to its roots while inviting new fans aboard.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.