We’ve just watched this in a chilly, Birmingham cinema, and even an over-eager air conditioner couldn’t put the freeze on this hot picture. The boy and I loved this phaser fest despite there being a couple of plot holes you could drive the Enterprise through at Warp 9. The 2 hours flew by in a blur of hand to hand combat, dizzying space battles, and pithy one-liners. There’s enough here for even the harshest Trek critics.
Chris Pine continues to shine in the role of Kirk, a man with a natural ability to lead and a distinct inability to follow protocol, and the opening scene shows him completely out of his depth. Kirk tries to negotiate a peace treaty between two aggressive races and offers one a gift from the other. His inability to play the role of ambassador leads to him being attacked by hundreds of imp-like aliens and he has to rely on his crew, and in particular, Scotty, to get him out of the mess he’s created. Afterwards, we find him reflecting upon the Enterprises five year mission into the unknown and coming to the conclusion that he’s bored – well not for long.
The York Town Star Base is pretty damn impressive. It’s a huge sealed globe of twisted gravity, conflicting angles, and skyscrapers, on the edge of Federation space. It’s here that Spock learns of Spock’s death (that’s Spock from the original timeline as played by Leonard Nimoy) that leads him to question his role on board the Enterprise. Both characters are now left with internal conflicts to resolve, and both consider leaving the Enterprise; Spock considers taking up the other Spock’s role upon New Vulcan and Kirk applies to become an assistant admiral? (God only knows how he thinks that’ll work out.) These decisions are put on hold when a distressed alien arrives, in dramatic fashion, to ask for their help. My immersion into the Trek universe was slightly rattled here when they buy her story wholesale without even a cursory check of the facts. Even more worrying was their failure to act (clap her in irons, interrogate her, etc.) when upon arrival at the planet where she claims her crew is trapped, the Enterprise is torn apart in a matter of minutes. At no point does anyone turn upon her and exclaim, ‘Trap!’ This, I must admit was pretty hard to swallow. A rather vertiginous space battle ensues and the Enterprise is well and truly whooped with chunks of it flying off left, right and center.
Phew! Only a few minutes in and everything is trashed. The main trunk of the film is then a case of Kirk and co regrouping, liberating and escaping in the rather impressive, and obsolete, U.S.S. Franklin. The Franklin is a retro joy to behold and even in its shabby, unkempt old age you can see nods towards the original TV show. However, here lies another hole in the plot. The rather wonderful, Jaylah, lives in the deserted craft – Jaylah is an escapee from the clutches of Krull, (played by Idris Alba.) She has hidden out here for years and has taught herself English and developed a fondness for really loud 90’s hip-hop. To keep her from getting caught she has set up an optical shield for the craft and rendered it invisible. However, as we later discover, Krull, is the presumed dead captain of the Franklin and surely he’d have known exactly where the ship was!
The action tumbles along at a satisfying pace and leads us to a nausea-inducing fight between Kirk and Krull in the center of York Town where gravity is more of an option rather than an absolute. Krull needs to get his ancient, ultimate weapon into the air recycling system for Yorktown station to kill everyone there. There are fisticuffs galore and an inability to say which way is up. Kirk has to eject Krull and the weapon into space without getting himself sucked out with them. It’s a shame that there isn’t a way of doing that. You know some way of moving matter instantaneously. You know, like a TRANSPORTER BEAM! But of course, if they did that there’s be no need for a fight above the skyscrapers.
These gripes aside, Star Trek: Beyond is a very enjoyable romp that pushes all the right buttons and left me feeling entertained rather than cheated. Chris Pike continues to fill Shatner’s boots with a confident swagger and Zachary Quinto is suitably Vulcan – there is the ubiquitous nod back to the past when Spock looks through some of the Nimoy Spock’s possessions and finds a picture of the original Star Trek crew in their Wrath of Khan outfits. Zoe Saldana puts in a fine performance as Uhura, but doesn’t get enough screen time for my liking; she’s merely Spock’s kick ass girlfriend. Anton Yelchin will be hugely missed from any following films; they’ll find it hard to find another actor with such a fun Russian accent and youthful charm. Simon Pegg’s Scotty continues to amuse, but why have Idris Alba in and then obscure his features? A lot of Alba’s emotion was lost underneath the makeup and his voice distorted by his comical dentures. For me, the standout performance comes from Karl Urban. He continues to delight as the permanently dour Dr. McCoy and steals scene after scene. If you love Trek, you’ll love this and if you just want to switch off for two hours and watch the galaxy teeter on the brink of destruction you leave feeling hard done by.
Now treat yourself to the Beastie Boys at their finest. Watch the film and you’ll know why.