Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Review #1,332

Director:  Justin Lin
Cast:  Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Idris Elba, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin
Plot:  The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

Genre:  Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

Awards:  Nom. for 1 Oscar - Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Runtime:  122min
Rating:  PG13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.
Distributor:  United International Pictures

“We could be mauled to death by an interstellar monster.”
“That's the spirit, Bones.”

It’s third-time lucky for the rebooted ‘Star Trek’ franchise that begun seven years ago with J.J. Abrams’ auspicious Star Trek (2009), which was followed-up with the similarly excellent Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) four years later.  The third movie has a new director at the helm, Justin Lin, whose claim to fame came almost entirely from four ‘Fast and Furious’ movies made from 2006 – 2013. 

Lin shows assurance in taking on a sci-fi movie with a rich legacy.  Although it not as substantial as the previous two movies—this feels like a stroll in the park with fan servicing—it is tremendously entertaining and a blast to treat yourself after a long day. 

Star Trek Beyond is pulsating and chocked full of action, but during its quieter moments, we are made to sympathize with some of the characters, particularly Spock (Zachary Quinto).  The emotional pull comes rather unexpected, though perhaps on hindsight, it is pretty much obligatory, tapping onto the real-life passing of ‘Star Trek’ legend Leonard Nimroy last year.  The spectre of Anton Yelchin’s (who plays the heavily-accented Chekov) tragic death also haunts the film. 

Instead of wallowing in sadness or nostalgia, the film is pretty much zippy and light-hearted.  It’s retro-modern style, in many ways manifested via artefacts of yesteryears returning in the film, continues to capture the spirit and courage of space exploration, and the nobility in doing so.  It doesn’t have the baggage of Abrams’ two movies where they had to chart a new path while also honouring the legacy. 

The new world is very much developed in Star Trek Beyond, and it will be interesting to see how that translates in—you bet!—future sequels.  In this film, which feels more of like an episode, Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew respond to a distress call and get entrapped in a plot to destroy the Federation. 

Much of the film occurs on a distant planet, where the crew has been dissipated after an emergency evacuation from the USS Enterprise.  It’s a race against time—as always!—to defeat the enemy and restore peace and order.  If you are worried about sequel fatigue, Star Trek Beyond doesn’t quite feel like it will fall into that slumber.  In fact, it keeps the franchise in good stead, and yes, I look forward to more adventures with Kirk and Spock.

Verdict:  A retro-modern Trek that proves to be third-time lucky in what is a pulsating sci-fi actioner that keeps the franchise in good stead.  


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