Star Trek Beyond (2016)

“Captain’s Log, Stardate 2263.2. Today is our 966th day in deep space – A little under three years into our five year mission. The more time we spend out here, the harder it is to tell where one day ends and the next one begins. It can be a challenge to feel grounded, when even the gravity is artificial. But while we do what we can to make it feel like home. The crew, is always, continues to act admirably despite the rigors of our extended stay here in outer space. The personal sacrifices they made. We continue to search for new life-forms in order to establish firm diplomatic ties. Our extended time in uncharted territory has stretched the ship’s mechanical capacities but fortunately our engineering department, led by Mr. Scott, is more than up to the job. The ship aside, prolong cohabitation has definitely had effects on the interpersonal dynamics. Some experiences for the better and some for the worse. As for me, things have started to feel a little episodic. The farther out we go, the more I find myself wondering what it is we are trying to accomplish. But if the universe is truly endless, then we are not striving for something forever out of reach. The Enterprise is scheduled for re-provisioning stop at Yorktown, the Federation’s newest most advanced starbase. Perhaps a break from routine will offer up some respite from the mysteries of the unknown.”

‘Star Trek Beyond’, directed by Justin Lin in 2016, is the third in a series of rebooted science fiction movies based on the 1960s television series ‘Star Trek’. I’ll admit to being more of a fan of these films than I am of the many other iterations of the franchise. The first two films were directed by J J Abrams and Lin follows his approach of balancing the sentimental nostalgia with an unrelenting and visually giddy pace. The film follows the crew of a spaceship in the middle of a long exploratory mission. They are sent on a rescue mission that turns out to be an ambush by a mysterious alien race. The movie opens and closes with reflective character moments that play on our affection for the crew, whilst touching on an inherited affection for the cast of the original series. Following these opening scenes, in which a number of characters are shown to be considering abandoning exploration in favour of a more entrenched life, the film switches to disaster movie mode, the spaceship is destroyed and the crew marooned on a hostile world. The object of the film seems to have been to give each of the ensemble cast room for development whilst simultaneously bombarding the audience with visual effects and stunts. Lin, and his writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, achieve this by making the adversaries of the film a version of what the frustrated crew could become, and thus making all the kinetic action sequences be about reminding the main characters of why they are exploring as much as a simple fight between good and evil. Like Abrams, Lin plays with gravity and orientation in the scenes set in space, something that is a characteristic of these movies. The space-station in particular is a dizzying, Escher-like design that owes more to ‘Inception’ than it does to the pre-Abrams ‘Star Trek’ films. Above all, this film includes a strand of enjoyably ironic wit, something that gives the characters charm and keeps us on their side without having to resort to the po-faced moralising that the original series was prone to.

Would I recommend it? Yes – it was a well-made action movie with impressive design, like-able performances and rounded characters. These recent ‘Star Trek’ movies have hit a stylistic and narrative seam that is both fresh and fun.

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