Saturday, July 23, 2016


Three years into their mission into deep space, the crew of the USS Enterprise is about to dock the most advanced space station ever built. Whilst on the station, an unidentified ship arrives, boarding an alien who came to ask for help as her crew and ship were lost on a planet inside an unexplored nebula. James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) accepts the rescue mission, yet once the Enterprise enters the nebula and communications are cut off, things aren't as they would seem.

The biggest take away I had from Star Trek Beyond is simple: Justin Lin is one of the most respect-worthy directors around right now. He started his career making really low budget stuff, he then slowly moved to the Fast and Furious franchise where he started really low and got better and better with every single film. Now, he makes a Star Trek movie and manages to make it enjoyable even to someone like me who never had anything to do with Star Trek and who disliked both the J.J. Abrams efforts. Star Trek Beyond isn't just the best entry in the new series, it's also one of the best films of the summer, full of heart, joy, adventure and intelligent storytelling.

The thing I kept thinking whilst watching the film was how well it was written. Pegg and Jung craft a fantastic screenplay that made me realize the exact reason why I disliked Abrams' films. Everything is properly set up, what needs to be explained is explained, what needs to be withheld is withheld until the right moment and there aren't any on the nose mysteries or storytelling black holes that were a pain to endure in the last two. Every character is given a clear arch, every problem that arises has a solution that is organic and coherent to the world and the characters which makes for a film that is fluent and beautifully paced.

Just as worthy of note is how brilliantly Lin uses visuals. From the very small character moments, the  world building touches to the overwhelming action set pieces, they all matter in the same way and it makes for an audience experience where you feel like you are being treated as an equal and that was exactly what I felt was missing from past entries. Lin has experience with action and it all shows here where he crafts sequences that are so organic to the story and the characters , that they don't even feel like action. They flow so beautifully and thrillingly and are complexly put together with lots of inter-cutting that never looses the audience and instead enhances the experience, culminating in a final set-piece that is original and riveting in the same way.

The actors of the main crew also have to be commended, especially for their chemistry and the comradery they manage to get through. You believe these people have been together through thick and thin in all these years and the internal dynamics between them are the reason everything around them works. Karl Urban as Bones is pitch perfect in timing ans his banter with Chris Pine is tight and not the usual generic crap we are served. Pine also gives his best effort yet as this great protagonist and finally manages to convey true conflict in his character. Yet, the highlight of the film for me was Sofia Boutella who is now two for two after her brilliant turn in Kingsman. She gives a stand out performance, one of those that always stick out on the screen and she was my favorite character and element in the film.

Unfortunately the movie does have a couple of problems that stop it from making its themes and narrative heft emerge as much as they should. Firstly, the villain, played by Idris Elba, isn't half as intimidating as he should be and proves to be a missed opportunity, failing to create any kind of consistent atmosphere or danger. It's not Elba's fault by any means, it's just a character that did not stick as much as he should have. Finally, there are many world building issues around the film that are never matter of first importance, but throughout it they create many inconsistencies that keep coming and after numerous times became really distracting.

In the end, Lin has crafted a remarkable blockbuster picture, a seamless amalgamation of great action and effects with dynamic character work and fascinating sense of adventure, a great heart and message of tolerance and diversity that even the people like me who are the furthermost away from Star Trek lore can enjoy thoroughly.

James's Score: 7.5/10

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