STAR TREK BEYOND, US, 2016. Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinton, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sophia Boutella. Directed by Justin Lin. 120 minutes. Rated M (Science fiction themes and violence).
This is a review from an observer of Star Trek films, rather than a Trekkie fan of the television series, during the last almost 40 years when Robert Wise’s Star Trek appeared in 1979 as the first big screen movie in what has become a series, well respected and liked, led by William Shatner as Captain Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as the Vulcan, Spock. (It is good to notice that the present Spock pays tribute to his father, with his image, with the box that he left him – and, towards the end, there is a close-up of the photo of the crew of the Enterprise).
The film opens with the young Captain Kirk offering a weapon gift to a strange looking group of aliens who take all the elements of his speech the wrong way – and then leap on him, not the huge creatures we thought, but little irritant monsters. This seemed rather silly – but, the filmmakers were probably getting the audience to have a laugh before they plunged them into an intense battle sequence, spacecraft firing on spacecraft as well as hand to hand combat, all very serious.
But then it got more interesting, with the Enterprise waylaid, sent crashing into the mountainous terrain of a foreign planet. And a villain had emerged, Kraal, a heavily made up Idris Elba (but his fans can see his unmasked real face in sequences at the end). What the crew have to do, as they each landed in separate parts of the mountains and valleys, is to get together. Most of the crew are kept as prisoners, including Uhura, Zoe Saldana.and Mr Sulu, John Cho.Captain Kirk, Chris Pine, and Mr Chekov, Anton Yelchin, survive together. Bones Karl Urban) and Spock (Zachary Quinton) land together, Spock wounded and stoically suffering, but some very entertaining dialogue and banter between the two, capitalising on Spock’s extremely strong and rational interpretation, without emotion. While Scotty, Simon Pegg, lands by himself but meets an intriguing creature, female, painted in white with stripes, who saves him. She is the sworn enemy of Kraal, is an agile warrior and skilled in the ships from the Starfleet, although one which the Enterprise crew think is more than a touch prehistoric.
So, repairs all round using the skills of Scotty (some good lines and heroics but Simon Pegg was one of the co-writers of the screenplay), a rescue with beaming up techniques, Captain Kirk providing a huge distraction riding a super-charged motorbike, Mr Chekov’s knowledge and Mr Sulu’s flying skills.
Kraal is able to obtain the mysterious piece of a weapon that was offered as a gift at the opening of the film – but it unleashes all kinds of weaponry, thousands of them, and the target is the space station to be destroyed which will lead on to further destruction throughout space.
As to be expected, there is a desperate flight, Bones and Spock continuing some sparring as they go in their separate vehicle to save the day, Kraal escaping the destruction of his fleet (achieved via loud rock beat music) and a mano a mano confrontation between Kirk and Kraal.
One of the strength of the film is that each of the central characters gets a substantial amount of screen time – and the crew of the Enterprise show excellent modelling of leadership, shared decision-making and delegation of responsibilities.
For those wondering about the next film in the series, we are reassured because the reconstruction of the Enterprise seems to take practically no time such is the wizardry of future technology.
The sad aspect of the film is the memorial to the late Leonard Nimoy and the dedication of the film to Anton, recognising the very sad accidental death of the young Anton Yelchin.
Paramount. Released July 21st,
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.