Star Trek Beyond: don't go by lack of hype, it's wholesome entertainment
Star Trek Beyond has been wildly undersold. All three trailers were underwhelming - just a barrage of action shots and special effects and offered absolutely no clarity whatsoever - almost as though Paramount was trying to hide the movie.
But surprisingly, Star Trek Beyond takes a little more from the signature style of classic Star Trekthan from JJ Abrams's previous installments. It is, in other words, everything that 2013's messy Star Trek Into Darkness wasn't - entertaining and wholesome.
There's also a different tone to the film - it's far lighter than the previous installments, almost as if it took a few notes from Guardians of the Galaxy. That isn't surprising, as Simon Pegg (who also plays wisecracking engineer Scott) is one of the main screenwriters.
And of course, Pegg would be able to make something that pleases Star Trek fans being a massive Trekkie - so even though the pacing isn't 100% perfect, there's still a cohesiveness to the script.
Not a new concept
The movie begins with the crew of the USS Enterprise still exploring despite having already spent over three years in space. In his log, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) says their adventures are beginning to feel a little episodic - undoubtedly a tongue-in-cheek nod to classic Star Trek.
But Kirk is basically searching for purpose, and so is Star Trek. That's only fitting in the year of the TV franchise's 50th anniversary.
Even the plot could have easily have been done on TV on a smaller scale: the Enterprise crash-lands on a wilderness planet, where the crew stumble round trying to get their bearings while facing a mysterious villain (Krall, Idris Elba smothered in makeup).
Karl Urban, in particular, gets more to do, his Bones and Spock (Zachary Quinto) spend a lot of time together with great results. Their double act is something I hope gets more screen time in future movies.
Also worth noting is Scotty's pair up with Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), an original character, who is actually treated with real respect, rather than a one-shot hero.
What adds to the wholesmeness of the movie is that Elba's Krall is a complex villain, instead of the usual one-note villains we've been getting of late. Most importantly, you understand his motivations.
New director Justin Lin's (of the Fast and the Furious franchise) shots are long and sweeping, again with nods to old school Trek. In fact, the destruction of the Enterprise is super harrowing despite the fact that we're watching the ship go down a second time in recent years.
The soundtrack is surprisingly good too - with a bit of Beastie Boys thrown in for good effect.
Basically, everyone brought his or her A-game to the set.
And by the time the film wraps up, not only have they paid onscreen tribute to the legacy of the great Leonard Nimoy, but they've also paid an accidental but moving tribute to Anton Yelchin.
Here's hoping the great adventure continues for another 50 years from here.
RATING: 4 out of 5
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