Film review: START TREK: BEYOND, ‘Built For Speed’

With their emphasis on cgi spectacle and their failure to reproduce the wonderful indelible characters and philosophical story lines that made the TV series (particularly the original and the Next Generation) such a success, the Star Trek reboot films have often been an empty experience. The latest instalment in the series, Star Trek: Beyond is much the same although a few tweaks make this a slightly more engaging film than its predecessors.

The plot of Star Trek: Beyond is, for the most part, the same old bubble-headed aliens vs noble American space pioneers lark. Here, typically reptilian looking aliens led by the pompous Krall (no relation to Diana) (Idris Elba) attack the Enterprise in search of a mysterious and powerful artefact with which they hope to destroy a major space station. With the Enterprise crew having evacuated the ship and become stranded on Krall’s planet they have to engage in a fierce battle to stop the lizard man’s megalomaniacal plan.

Initially, it looks as if this film will take an intriguing introspective path as Kirk (Chris Pyne) begins to question his role aboard the Enterprise and his place in the vastness of space. The film also explores a little further Spock’s (Zachary Quinto) relationship with Uhuru (Zoe Saldana). Soon, however, the film jettisons any philosophical notions and turns into yet another video game-inspired action fest. This might have produced some exciting and dynamic action scenes but they’re spoiled by gratuitous wobble-cam and sequences filmed in such low light its almost impossible to see what’s going on.

This film could have been completely tedious for audiences sick of CGI destruction cinema but some amusing character interaction and lively banter – courtesy of a script co-written by Simon Pegg (who also plays engineer Scotty) – stop it transforming into just another special effects snooze fest. Particularly entertaining is the verbal sparring between Spock and Dr Bones McCoy (Karl Urban) as they’re forced to rely on each other for survival. Not surprisingly, Pegg has scripted some enjoyable exchanges between Scotty and new character, the Rei-like warrior Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). Even the normally bland Chris Pyne – who looks like he should be playing college jocks who administer wedgies to nerds – shows brief flickers of charisma here.

This film should please ravenous Star Trek acolytes and those wanting a pacy, destructive action film – as long as they can tolerate the wobble-cam. It also provides a sniff of hope to those not enamoured of the noisy reboot films and who long for the character focus of the TV shows.

Nick’s rating: ***.

Genre: Science Fiction/ action.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Justin Lin.

Release date: 21st July 2016.

Running time: 122 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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