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Star Trek Beyond Review: clean sci-fi

Star Trek Beyond, the third entry in the rebooted sci-fi franchise, is good clean sci-fi that draws from Star Trek’s meaningful television roots whilst splashing the screen with sweeping blockbuster action and enjoyable cast chemistry.

After accepting a five-year long mission into deep space, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the USS Enterprise are attacked in uncharted space by the mysterious Krall (Idris Elba), a powerful warlord who holds a grudge against the Federation.

Story: B+

The new rebooted Star Trek franchise has reinvigorated the property. The current timeline has found a way to balance moral stories and messages with both character development and pulsating action. Star Trek Beyond is no different. Star Trek Beyond once again calls on the crew of the Enterprise to take the stick. Splitting Spock off with Bones provides a constant thread of humour an offbeat comedy to the film, whilst pairing Kirk with Chekov and Scotty movies the conflict forward.

There are some stories that are essentially the same but with a little twist added on. Kirk’s arc of feeling lucky to be where he is but also struggling to escape from his father’s shadow is something we’ve seen before but this time it is amplified by his long stay in deep space. Spock and Uhura’s relationship troubles have become a staple in this timeline but thankfully Beyond doesn’t make a meal of it. These foundation pieces are all present and consistent throughout the rebooted timeline and as a result the film feels like a continuation rather than a development, even as the film starts off with a voiceover maligning the ‘episodic’ lives of the crew.

Nevertheless, Beyond does just about enough with its new additions to rise from previous instalments. Krall’s motivations and story arc is new and refreshing and whilst it remains anticlimactic, it is admirable that the film tried and almost succeeded at an intriguing villain. Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) brings exuberance to the story and lifts the narrative when it feels like entering a lull.

Acting: B+

Idris Elba chooses a very odd way to play Krall and at first it can seem extremely gimmicky and off-putting but the film later reveals why it has been presented this way. The performance, therefore, is better in hindsight.

Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock steal the show once again. Pine is inherently likeable and his ability to be both arrogant and charming makes us root for Kirk where other would have turned him sour. And Quinto is fittingly robotic yet unerringly emotional as the half-human half-Vulcan.

Direction: B+

No J.J. Abrams in the director’s seat this time around as Justin Lin (Fast and Furious) takes the helm. Lin maintains that close and intimate style of storytelling from previous instalments but ups the sweeping action and the relentless explosions. Sometimes this can be hard to watch and overwhelming but Lin changes the angles and throws in inventive shots often enough to keep the attention.

Star Trek Beyond continues the rebooted streak. It is now three for three as the Star Trek franchise settles in to a steady run of solid stories, increasingly enjoyable performances and character interactions and fittingly epic action.

Final Score: B+


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