THE iconic franchise that gave us Kirk and Spock is back with Star Trek: Beyond, which unfortunately ends up as a second consecutive disappointment in a row for the once-promising rebooted series.
As Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) still finds himself stuck in the shadow of his long-deceased father, it becomes clear that he has plans to apply himself for a promotion. Whilst on the planet Yorktown, he and the Enterprise crew are assigned to save a trapped spaceship on the planet Altamid which claims to have only one survivor from it.
After setting of to locate it, a sudden attack from an unknown enemy results in the team evacuating the Enterprise which is destroyed upon crashing. This ends up leaving Kirk, Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) stranded and separated on a planet they are unused to, whilst other crew members are kidnapped.
The perpetrator it turns out is Krall (Idris Elba), a mutant whose backstory reveals something more troubling than expected. Fending off betrayal, the crew team up with mysterious warrior Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) in an attempt to rescue their crew and thwart Krall’s plans to destroy Yorktown.
Following the unexpected success of the 2009 entry, one had this reboot written down as a potentially formidable series in the movie calendar. With the disappointment of Into Darkness, that drew half and half for series opinion but with hope it would be a one-off. Annoying to say, it transpires that this edition is only a continuation of being let down. It doesn’t let itself down spectacularly because there are some likeable moments but its failure to attempt to match the first film does create some concerning questions about the viability to be something to look forward to.
Looking at the action sequences which is what the film is reliant on if it has spent $185m on doing so, one ends up with sequences that generally fail to wildly engage with the viewer. The scenes of the attack on the Enterprise do not play as gripping enough and seeing shootouts between heroes and villains prove to be quickly tiresome. The claustrophobic setting does not necessarily help either and it is only Scotty’s quick escape from his pod before falls down below that one seems interested from then, by which time the sequence is almost finished. That and the actual crashing of the Enterprise are in fact what saves that sequence from becoming bland through and through.
Later action scenes do not seem to grip either, but a battle in the finale between Kirk and Krall brings reminisce to the hallway fight in Inception and one is left querying why the action wasn’t of that style beforehand.
The chemistry between the actors is respectable, notably in regards to Bones and Spock who find themselves stranded together and bring in some occasional lightheartedness. In one instance, Bones is forced to remove a piece of equipment that Spock is impaled on, but manages to make the sequence light by distracting him with an unusual questioning before the wound is cauterised and treated.
The use of villain is also one to mention given that of the few positives of Into Darkness, one was Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance of Khan. Elba is a good actor but in this case, the character written for him does not reflect his potential, even if he does give his all. Though it is an admirable effort, the lack of memorability for the film’s villain is cemented by an overall use of characterisation that plays somewhat thinly, and not doing for characters what the recent Bond films have been successful at portraying.
By doing this, in regards to the non-exhilarating action and character development, the series is taking steps back and only heaping to serve trepidation for the already announced fourth film.
What the film is lacking though is probably not the director because JJ Abrams made the only enjoyable part of the three films so far, but also let himself down with the follow-up. Having Justin Lin take over doesn’t do any favours because of the lack of shortage of real energy his direction has. In this case though, it is more fault with the screenwriters, of which Pegg was one of for this, due to their inability to come up with a screenplay which could have rectified the errors of the previous film.
The idea of having the crew stranded on another planet does suggest a likeable work so the film is not running out of ideas for having an interesting story. It is what is put down on screen as a whole for two hours however that leaves us frustrated because those working on it are capable of putting on a superb show if the first goes by, but with the way it is going for excitement and character, it is not looking positive for the future.
Star Trek: Beyond struggles to take off high enough from its opening, and though it has its occasional moments, the result is an underwhelming effort to entertain.