Directed by Justin Lin, written by Simon Pegg, starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella. The USS Enterprise has been in space for some time, exploring deeper and further, which seems to be having an effect on the captain. So when a distress call is received the crew jumps at the chance for adventure and to aid fellow explorers.
I never watched the original films or TV shows of which there are copious hours of material for die hard Trekkies. Nor would I ever claim that my knowledge was above even average for this particular area of science fiction, which is why I enjoy watching these particular films. No background knowledge is required beyond the basic construction of the crew members and their own developing storylines, nor does it ever try to teach you some great history of a culture we will only experience for the runtime of the film, this is entertainment in it’s purest form.
This is Simon Pegg’s first screenplay for the Star Trek series, and while he keeps the momentum going for science fiction entertainment he is also the creator of one of my complaints about this film. In the previous film, ‘Into Darkness’, they made the mistake of hiding a famous Trekkie villain under a different name, despite fans already predicting who the villain was, based on the trailer. This caused a certain level of contempt and aggravation online, indeed whenever I discuss this film with others who are aware of the back story of the character in question it is always with a feeling of annoyance that we discuss the film. So on this basis, it would appear that they have gone in the opposite direction for ‘Beyond’. By that I mean the writing is too structured and simplistic in many ways. While I have no issues with certain plot devices being used to help progressive the narrative, or structuring in a style similar to a well-written crime novel, where all pieces must be in place to solve the problem. This film is far too obvious in revealing the key points that will come into play in the third act, leaving you less with a feeling of wonder and excitement and more a feeling of almost boredom, almost as though you have already seen the film because you have almost predicted each move.
Perhaps I’m being overly harsh, Pegg does explore different aspects of the characters that we haven’t quite seen before. Kirk is grappling with bigger questions in life, such as the very real possibility that space is infinite, therefore to what extent are they exploring without losing sense of who they are, and how do they break from this repetitive routine that has become their lives.
We are introduced to a few new female characters, such as Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah, who is by far the most independent and un-sexualised female character we have so far seen. I suppose then, my frustration with this film is the deeper conversations and themes that are all too briefly touched upon without exploration and development. Instead, we are subjected to a blockbuster action film that fails to have the urgency the previous instalments had.
The cast returns with a few new additions, and all of whom, barring perhaps Idris Elba’s new villain, who is unrecognisable, are stunning charismatic people who all fit together with equal charm, intelligence and compassion towards one another. It must be noted the absolute tragic and deeply saddening death of Anton Yelchin who was killed on his driveway by his own car. His absence will be sorely missed as the entire cast fits together so very much like old friends, he was a brilliant and talented actor whose character seemed to gain more substance and personality as a ladies man in this outing.
So although this instalment of the series played it far too safe regarding the narrative structure, it is still an easy to watch and entertaining film, with great attention to detail and beautifully, designed intelligent worlds.
*** Honestly not the best Trek film in the series, the previous two had more depth, more gravitas and more emotional urgency, but still really entertaining and good value for money.
RECOMMENDATION – Still watch this film for an easy entertainment, let’s hope they take a few more chances next time.