‘Star Trek Beyond’ goes back to basics

Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine, left) and Chekov (the late Anton Yelchin), right, return in the space adventure ‘Star Trek Beyond’
Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine, left) and Chekov (the late Anton Yelchin), right, return in the space adventure ‘Star Trek Beyond’

“Things have started to feel a little episodic,” muses Capt Kirk (Chris Pine) in the opening stretch of Star TrekBeyond.

After the forced melodrama of the last instalment, 2013’s Into Darkness – which Trekkies voted their least favourite – it’s understandable that this one felt the need to retrench, seeking safety in self-containment. It’s both comforting and a little underwhelming to be refamiliarised with what a standalone episode of The Next Generation used to feel like.

Beyond is really back to basics. The Enterprise crew are whisked away on a rescue mission, supposedly to attend to shipwrecked survivors on a stony planet the other side of an unstable nebula.

Before even getting there, their ship is ripped apart by a bee-swarm of hostile craft, working under the command of Krall (Idris Elba), a soul-sucking reptilian tyrant – part Hellraiser, part stegosaur – who needs the other half of a space-artefact WMD to pursue his yet-to-be-explained vendetta against the Federation.

Elba’s stomping physique brings a fair payload of menace to this role, if not a whole lot of nuance, and it’s only in the film’s last act – easily the strongest – that his villainy justifies the billing. In general, the new involvement of Simon Pegg in a screenwriting capacity can’t be counted a resounding triumph.

The attempts at banter between Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban) regularly fall flat as a pancake. Not many of the principal cast – including the late Anton Yelchin get chances to expand much on the personalities they’ve set down previously.

The effects? There’s far too much swarming around with those bee attackers, the sort of onslaught which fills the screen and looks expensive, while whizzing around indistinctly and dampening any real impact.

This is the first spin of the rebooted franchise that intergalactic overlord JJ Abrams hasn’t taken upon himself. Justin Lin, rescuer of the Fast and Furious series, picks up the reins, and does as steady if impersonal a job as a state-of-the-art robo-autopilot.

In fairness to Beyond, it makes very few promises it can’t keep, but also goes halfway out on every limb it can find, risking next to nothing, sights perma-locked on par. – The Telegraph

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