Take a trip down the memory asteroid belt and join the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise as they fail at diplomacy, trust a mysterious stranger they know nothing about, miraculously solve more impossible problems than Tom Cruise on a Tuesday, and get stranded on an uncharted planet that speaks fluent English. With nods to the original series on top of the quirk that made the 2009 Star Trek such a hit, Star Trek Beyond actually manages to be both nostalgic and fresh. Set your phasors to “miss” and strap into a movie that literally digs up the old and takes it for a joy ride.
Our hero, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), is bored of space. Bringing peace offerings to aliens that have a limited understanding of both “peace” and “offerings” just isn’t doing it for him anymore. He and the crew need a mission to shake them out of their stupor. As luck would have it, a distressed pilot lands on Starfleet’s deep space doorstep in need of a high tech team to save her stranded crew. Her plea for help sends Kirk, Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Bones (Karl Urban), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Sulu (John Cho), Scotty (Simon Pegg), and the whole Enterprise neighbourhood on a rescue mission through an unstable and uncharted nebula. It’s not entirely shocking when we discover that she’s a liar and it’s a trap. The mighty Enterprise ends up punctured and dismembered by a swarm of space bees. That’s right – beeeees. With the ship destroyed and the crew scattered across the surface of an unknown planet, the non-disposable members of the Enterprise team sets out to reunite the crew and figure out a way back home.
Star Trek Beyond surprised me. The crew is broken into pockets as they make their way back to each other, meaning there’s never too much of one character and too little of another. With the ship itself no longer in the picture, Star Trek Beyond feels like a classic “away mission” that encounters new life, hidden dangers, and fresh terrain…
…that looks an awful lot like Canada. For a movie set in the distant future and even more distant reaches of fictional space, it feels like a subliminal ad to visit the rocky, tree-infested north. The Canadian shoutouts continue with Starfleet’s snow globe space station going by the name of Fort York. On top of that, the pioneer ship, re-discovered by Kirk and his crew, is appropriately named The Franklin. Such a ship was the first of its kind, a legend among space explorers, lost forever in its mission to map the universe. With glowing hearts we see thee rise…
This hidden ship is a beacon reuniting the crew who, luckily enough, landed on this planet only a few kilometers from each other. Upon first discovery, the ship belongs to the equally stranded – but far more adept at wilderness survival – Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). Her goal in life goes only about as far as Kirk’s immediate plans: get off the planet. She is a convenient resource for the crew of the Enterprise, whom she blends in with almost too seamlessly – aside from her unique brand of kickboxing, mechanics-knowing, hard-metal-music loving awesome.
She is the complete opposite of our scaly villain, Krall (Idris Elba), who ironically wants to blow up peace to prove it’s more destructive than war. Even more ironically (spoiler alert) his target is the core of Fort York, which borrowed its design from the Death Star. To prove he means business, Krall’s signature move is to stand too close to people and give deep, disturbing speeches by spraying it, not saying it. Idris Elba is a desperate villain, anxious to bring generations of work to a close with a satisfying boom. He’s troubled and unfeeling, like a rooftop statue that’s spent too many years as a canvass for passing birds.
All of this combines into a rescue-the-crew, stop-the-terrorist, and save-the-children adventure. I don’t know what it is about 21st century sci-fi movies and masses of dark, evil cloud, but Star Trek Beyond brews up a whole new one, mashing my fear of extreme weather with the biblical fear of insect swarms. Star Trek Beyond was honestly better than I expected, with a decent story and creative fictional technology tricks. It’s a massive effects movie with tiny humans trying desperately to sip coffee in zero gravity. If you’re up for a fiery boom and an example of excellent movie makeup, this is one to go see. 7/10.