The rebooted STAR TREK film universe has certainly divided old and new fans, some enjoying it and others not. This new universe is a literal reboot with the timeline set back in the 1960’s original series being reset in the 2009 film, to make way for something new. The prospect of that was both terrifying and interesting, they could do anything they wanted. Such a disappointment that INTO DARKNESS was a lazy retread of WRATH OF KHAN, having no real originality to it. What happened to a fresh start and new ideas? With BEYOND, J.J. Abrams is not in the director’s chair, with FAST AND FURIOUS series director Justin Lin stepping in, Simon Pegg and Doug Jung have taken over writing duties. Was this the right move for the series? Absolutely!
Our story begins with Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) on a mission to negotiate peace between two species. The crew are over half way with their five year mission to explore the galaxy and things seem to be going fairly well. Docking at a new and advanced space station Yorktown, the crew have some much needed time off. This doesn’t last long as they receive a distress signal from a war torn ship, the survivor tells them in a near by nebula her crew are trapped. The Enterprise takes off to help but they are met with an enemy they are not ready for, an enemy that could spell the end of the Federation.
With Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) questioning their futures, and the mission at hand half way through it seems our two leads are almost at a cross roads. Those doubts are put aside as they face the new danger at hand and reassess their priorities. This works well and add an extra layer to these characters, who finally feel like their own and not a copy of what has come before them. The same can be said for the other main characters, even if they don’t have a large role they feel more complete. Pegg and Jung not only wrote a script that felt a lot more original, they added in action where it needed to be and strong character moments. It had the heart of what made STAR TREK so special in the first place, a sense of wonder and mystery and the bonding of a core team.
There was a lot of focus on the strength of a crew, and how working together can be beneficial. We see them do this throughout the film, the bond felt stronger than it had in the previous films. The action was quite strong, but it never felt out of place or too over the top. The main villain played by Idris Elba was a little under developed, but each time he was on screen he was a commanding presence and felt like a huge threat. New character Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) fit right into the mix, and her relationship with Scotty became the heart and soul of the film. Spock and Bones (Karl Urban) made for a great tag team and shared some great moments together, whilst Uhura (Zoe Saldana) did not feel completely useless and felt like a strong character. Sulu (John Cho) was not used much, and I didn’t have a problem with the character being revealed as gay. Chekov (Anton Yelchin) finally had some solid screen time and didn’t feel like an after thought, his scenes with Kirk worked really well.
Chris Pine was at his best here, his version of Kirk finally felt like his own and not only was he fun to watch, he brought so much heart to the role. It was refreshing to see him extend himself, not just go ‘by the numbers’ for the role. Zachary Quinto as well felt like his own Spock, going through some tough personal times (there is a lovely tribute to Leonard Nimoy that made me tear up) his emotions aren’t always in check. Simon Pegg had a larger role here as Scotty and it was very welcome, he wasn’t just there to throw up a Scottish accent and be done with it. Scotty had an actual arc and Pegg brought forth a lot of emotion and charisma to the role. The chemistry he shared between Sofia Boutella was wonderful, their time together fit in well and it was a reminder of the relationships that were explored in the series. Idris Elba always makes for a terrifying villain, and here was no different. The man brings a presence to his roles and that voice was quite chilling, his interactions with the cast were great to watch. It was bitter sweet to see Anton Yelchin in one of his last roles, with Chekov having so much more to do it was wonderful to see him and enjoy what he brought, he will be missed.
Having a different team on the table for this film was the right move, it felt fresh it was STAR TREK. It wasn’t trying to be a clone of what came before it and it wasn’t trying to be more like STAR WARS either. This is exactly what STAR TREK needs to be for today’s age, it took two films to get there but it got there. Justin Lin was the perfect choice as director, he brought in his flare for action but also made sure the film had a lot of heart and felt really natural. This was a great ride with lots to enjoy, a journey that was good to be on with likeable characters. The future looks extremely bright for this franchise, it certainly fixed what INTO DARKNESS ruined. As a STAR TREK fan it feels good to be excited once again and not let down, this is the best film of the series since FIRST CONTACT twenty years ago.