Now into their third year of a five year mission, the USS Enterprise, helmed by Captain Kirk, (Chris Pine) sets off in the aid of a desperate species, only to discover it’s a trap, and they’ve fallen into the unforgiving lair of the nefarious, vengeful Krall (Idris Elba). Managing to escape unharmed, the same can’t be said of their ship, as they crash land on a remote planet, stranded and without any means of communication. With Scotty (Pegg) on hand to try and salvage any equipment that could see them on their way, Bones (Karl Urban), Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) navigate their way around this unchartered territory. Meanwhile, Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho) and all other surviving members of the Enterprise crew remain in the clutches of Krall – whose unwavering hatred for the Federation knows no bounds.
Star Trek Beyond, while thriving in so many engaging set pieces, truly comes to life during the more character driven sequences, when the crew are stranded on this unknown planet, as we indulge in conversation, and watch on as they resourcefully find a way to escape this environment and track down the antagonist holding their dear friends hostage. However there are a few too many characters within this feature, each complete with their respective emotional arc we’re expected to adhere to and invest in, and it becomes too much of a challenge.
For not only do we have the core seven members of the Enterprise, but a nuanced villain in Krall, and the addition of Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah. It’s the antagonist to this feature which proves to be the great shortcoming too, as he’s introduced far too early into this narrative. We don’t build up to his arrival, and in anticipation comes a growing fear, which we sidetrack entirely. Not to mention the fact he appears so fallible, and to overcome him, and his army, doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch, which is detrimental to the viewer’s investment in this tale.
Though a big-budget blockbuster, Star Trek Beyond actually revels in the more intimate, candid scenes, as a feature that judges pathos remarkably well, enriching the experience accordingly. To be able to connect emotionally within such a setting is no mean feat, but achieved on many occasions within this production. We even use Leonard Nimroy’s passing as a plot device in a way that is never gratuitous, but poignant – while the overriding melancholy that derives from the untimely death of Yelchin lingers painfully over this endeavour.
But that said it’s the eternal sense of optimism that is so essential, and particularly at a time when the world seems particularly fractured, a film that preaches the notion of togetherness as a means of triumphing in the face of adversity, is a rather important one to indulge in right about now.