Star Trek Beyond, out now, Cert: 12a, ****
STAR Trekkin’ across the universe for 50 years, Star Trek has become one of the most popular science fiction franchises of all time.
First shown in the 1960s led by William Shatner, the Enterprise was entrusted to a new generation with JJ Abrams’ reboot in 2009. A prequel to the original series, its success led to a sequel and this is the third in the franchise, to mark the show’s 50th anniversary.
The Enterprise is in the third year of a five-year mission to explore new worlds. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is struggling with his captaincy and the routine of being trapped in space. His second in command Spock (Zachary Quinto) is also in a quandary. He has ended his relationship with Lt. Uhuru (Zoe Saldana) and is unsure of his place outside of New Vulcan, the homeland established by his people following the destruction of his planet.
Of course, Kirk and Spock being who they are cannot talk about their issues and have been dancing around each other, each knowing that something is not right with the other.
Getting some leave time on a newly-constructed Federation Starbase, the crew are called back to duty early when a distress signal arrives from a ship trapped in a nebula that can only be accessed by the Enterprise’s technology.
The nebula poses a huge threat which means the Enterprise will lose all communication with Starfleet, but it hides an even bigger threat, a ship full of baddies lead by Krall, played by an unrecognisable Idris Elba, an enemy hell bent on destroying the Enterprise using his bee-like mini-attack ships.
A spectacular crash-landing sees the crew separated on a hospitable planet. Desperate to reach each other and vastly outgunned, they are forced to rely on strength of will, hope and some crazy plans we have come to associate with Kirk.
Directed by Justin Li, the man behind Fast And Furious brings his sense of high octane action to the Trek world but does it carefully, blending in seamlessly with the heart and warmth expected from these beloved figures.
Pine, as always, shines as Kirk. Mixing swagger with stoicism he continues to be a worthy successor to Shatner. In this he is given the added burden of assessing what it really means to be George Kirk’s son and the struggle to find his place in a life he was not meant to have. Pine is well able for the challenge.
His chemistry with Quinto continues to grow and for the first time in the reboots, Bones (Karl Urban) properly gets to play with his teammates. The bickering trio were the heart of the original series and this is something writer Simon Pegg (who plays engineer Scotty) fully understands.
Bones and Spock, forever at odds but ready to die for one another, get plenty of scenes together and it is a joy for fans of the original series to watch.
Dotted throughout are nods a plenty; in-jokes prevail but in such a way so as not to exclude newer fans. This is the perfect balance of new versus old.
The last film, Into Darkness, was accused of being too dark, too alien for Trek, this is back on track and feels more like an extended episode, it works a treat.
It is not perfect, the villain is not great and his reasons a little unclear but the action, the humour, the emotions are what this is really about.
There is a fittingly emotional tribute to Leonard Nimoy who sadly died before filming began, and a tender moment is sure to bring tears to true Trekkies’ eyes. Anton Yelchin, the young actor who played Chekov, died just last month, leaving no room for a tribute on-screen but he is mentioned in the credits.
A treat for Ttekkies and great entrainment for non-fans, this is one franchise I hope will continue going and going.
Review by Cara O’Doherty