“Things have started to feel a little episodic,” muses Chris Pine’s Captain James T Kirk as he logs the Starship Enterprise’s 966th day in deep space near the start of Star Trek Beyond. We know how he feels.
Happily, with Fast & Furious stalwart Justin Lin slipping into the director’s chair vacated by JJ Abrams, and Simon ‘Scotty’ Pegg taking on co-screenwriting duties (with Doug Jung), the third adventure in the rebooted Star Trek series is a playful, spirited tonic for anyone left jaded by Starfleet routine or the prospect of yet another sci-fi sequel.
Much of the fun simply comes from watching the old crew conform to our expectations, giving new spins to old routines. Familiarity breeds content. As ever, Pine’s Kirk is recklessly daring, while Zachary Quinto’s Spock remains imperturbably calm, even when marooned in the company of Karl Urban’s comically dour medic Bones. Equally reliably, Pegg’s engineer delivers his customary quota of droll jokes and miraculous technical fixes.
“A kick-ass fighter”
Naturally, their different traits all prove crucial when the Enterprise crew end up in their latest jam; stranded and separated on an alien planet after answering a distress call from deep space. The one responsible for luring Kirk and co into danger is the fearsome and sadistic Krall, played by Idris Elba, unrecognisable beneath layers of prosthetic make-up save for tell-tale traces of his familiar Hackney accent. An implacable enemy of Starfleet and the Federation, he is seeking an artefact that will enable him to launch an apocalyptic bio-weapon.
Fortunately, our heroes find a resourceful new ally on the planet in the shape of Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella (the sleekly lethal Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service). A kick-ass fighter in black-and-white war paint, she forms a delightful double act with Pegg’s Scotty after the pair team up. When it gets to the action scenes, however, things prove slightly disappointing, with Lin’s blurry, fast-and-furious direction often making it hard to work out what is going on.
But the film has enough humour and heart to enable us to forgive its flaws. And with dedications to Leonard ‘Spock’ Nimoy, who died at the age of 83 in 2015, and to Anton ‘Chekov’ Yelchin, who died in a freak car accident on the eve of the film’s release, it is surprisingly touching as well.
Certificate 12. Runtime 122 mins. Director Justin Lin
Star Trek Beyond is available on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, DVD & Digital Download from Paramount Home Media Distribution.