Sunday, 7 August 2016

Star Trek Beyond Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

I don't like the new Star Trek films.  I love the franchise, the television shows are great and I absolutely love Deep Space Nine, but I absolutely hate the new film series.  I think that they're too different from the source material, they've tried too hard to explain how they're 'different' and 'modern' compared to older Star Trek, there's too much trying to be clever with their stories and it looks absolutely horrible with way too much lens flare.

Despite these issue Star Trek Beyond is actually really good.  Everything that was wrong with the previous two films (other than Chris Pine) has been thrown out for a fairly basic sci-fi adventure story that manages to capture the spirit of the franchise a lot, lot more than the other JJ Verse films.

The film picks up three years into the Enterprise's five year mission into uncharted space as the ship heads to a massive space station called Yorktown for resupply, maintenance and shore leave for the crew.  It's here that we find that the long mission has begun to have a negative effect on the crew, with Spock and Uhura having ended their relationship and Kirk wanting to give up command of the ship.

Before any decisions about the future of the Enterprise can be made, however, an escape pod emerges from a nearby unexplored nebula with a sole survivor aboard.  The alien woman reveals that her ship and crew are stranded on a planet inside the nebula, and as such Kirk and the Enterprise are sent to their aid.

The plot takes a turn when the ship arrives at the unknown planet, however, as they come under attack from a technologically superior foe who literally tear the Enterprise apart.  The alien's leader, Krall (Idris Elba) boards the ship to steal an artifact in the Enterprise vault as the crew abandon the crippled ship.

With the Enterprise in pieces the saucer section crash lands onto the planet below with a handful of the command crew managing to escape whilst Uhura, Sulu and the remaining crew are captured by Krall's troops.

Once on the planet Scotty befriends a stranded young woman, Jaylah (Sophia Boutella) who enlists Scotty in helping to fix her 'house', an old NX class star ship called the Franklin (Star Trek Enterprise), helping the command crew to rescue the captured Enterprise crew in return.

Using the repaired Franklin the crew chase after Krall to Yorktown to stop him from unleashing a deadly bio weapon that will kill the millions of inhabitants.

The film may be full of plot holes, less than believable solutions and characters having to explain to the audience exactly what's happening because otherwise you'd get lost, but it has enough of the spirit of fun and adventure that the original series had that the film manages to get over these faults to deliver an entertaining experience.

You can tell straightaway that the people behind the cameras have changed since 'Star Trek Into Darkness', the script has more fun and pop to the dialogue, with flashier set pieces, and the direction is a lot crisper and easier to digest.  No more god damn lens flare in every scene!

The film doesn't try any of the 'mystery box' rubbish that Abrams did with 'Into Darkness' with his whole 'Cumberbatch isn't playing Khan, I swear he's not Khan, definitely not Khan, okay, it's a Wrath of Khan remake' rubbish that made the build up to the film slightly more annoying and awful than the actual film turned out to be.

Instead of getting a film that spends its whole running time explaining the change to the time line or a sub par remake of a film we already had we get a Star Trek film that feels like a Star Trek film, that stands on it's own and actually lets the audience have a little fun.

Some of the film might be silly, with some of the dialogue being a little too clunky to be funny and using Beastie Boys to destroy the unstoppable enemy army being absolutely ridiculous, but it feels a lot more forgivable than a lot of the missteps that the previous two films made.

The biggest gripe with the film is that it doesn't spend a lot of time explaining things before moving on, we don't get a real explanation for how the Franklin ended up on the planet, we don't really get an explanation for exactly what the bio weapon is, and reveal that Krall and his men used to be human is so skimmed over it could have easily derailed the whole final act of the film.

Luckily the cast manage to play the whole thing in such a way that you can forget about a lot of these plot holes whilst the film is actually happening and find yourself enjoying the experience.  Boutella manages to slip into the main cast nicely, and her double act with Scotty is a particularly enjoyable thing to watch.  Perhaps with the announcement of a fourth instalment she could return to the crew, possibly taking over for Chekov.

A moment has to be taken to talk briefly about Anton Yelchin and his recent passing, with this film being the first to be released since his death that he has appeared in.  I went into this film very aware of the loss of Anton, and was pleasantly surprised at how much screen time he was given in this film in comparison to previous instalments.  Chekov gets teamed up with Kirk whilst stranded on the planet's surface, and gets to be involved in some big set pieces and action sequences.  This was something that I was really, really pleased about as it's given Yelchin, and the character of Chekov, a chance to shine in his last appearance in the Star Trek franchise.

'Star Trek Beyond' isn't a perfect film, and whilst you will enjoy the film as it's happening you will quickly begin to pick holes in it once it has done it's certainly not the worst in the new reboot series, or the franchise as a whole.  It's fun, action packed and over the top, with great character interaction and banter that makes it stand apart from previous instalments.


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