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Star Trek Beyond (also 3D) (AF)


Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Lydia Wilson, Joe Taslim, Shohreh Aghdashloo

Director: Justin Lin

OK, I admit it.

I am a Trekkie.

Long, long ago I blew the advance I was paid for writing a book to pay for the rental of a colour television set: I wanted know the colours of the uniforms of the classic crew.

And my homage was confirmed years later when Dr McCoy himself escorted me across the set to the bridge of the USS Enterprise during the filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture at Paramount Studios.

Which makes Justin Lin’s invigorating direction of this 13th thrills-and-action-packed feature spawned by Gene Roddenberry’s classic series all the more satisfying since Star Trek: Beyond, capably scripted by Doug Jung and Simon Pegg (who also doubles well on screen as Enterprise engineer Scotty) entertainingly harks back to the narrative drive of the television series by concentrating to excellent dramatic effect on the interrelationships of the characters.

Having said that, 'Fast and Furious' director Lin (replacing J J Abrams who produces) vividly employs state-of-the-art special effects to underscore a well-known narrative thrust that sees Captain Kirk and Company once again facing danger and death in Deepest Space while having travelled 996 days on their five-year mission.

Their would-be nemesis here is murderous reptilian alien Krall whose anything-and-everything-goes battle to recover the strange “Death Machine” obtained by Kirk from a bunch of bizarre extraterrestrials at the start of the story.

Krall boldly goes ahead with his craving to destroy the crew of the Enterprise, a massive transparent dome-like human-inhabited world floating in space and the Federation as well by crashing the Enterprise on a weird planet where, separated as a team, they set out to save the day…

The post-Roddenberry crew is spot on.

Chris Pine’s James Tiberius Kirk (who states he joined Star Fleet “as a dare”) does what a hero has to do (including a TT-worthy ride on a futuristic motorcycle), while coming to terms with emotions catalyzed by realizing his father died on his birthday.

Zachary Quinto’s Mr Spock and Karl Urban’s Bones trade witty lines (For Spock, “Fear of death is illogical” to which Bones’ response is “Fear of death is what keeps us alive”) as the doctor operates to prevent the injured Spock from being skewered to death after the crash.

(Legendary Mr Spock is rightly remembered with an end credit reading “In loving memory of Leonard Nimoy” while Anton Yelchin who played Chekov and died in a bizarre accident shortly after completing the movie, is recognized with “For Anton”).

Sulu returns, played by John Cho and now openly gay, while cowriter Jung portrays his partner and Scotty joins forces with waxen-faced alien Sofia Boutella on the strange planet to fight for freedom.

Idris Elba hits hard, under both his alien make-up and as himself and, like everyone else in front of the cameras, makes his mark.

When Kirk shouts, “Let’s make some noise!” Lin takes him at his word and (appropriately) delivers a fast and furious science fiction thriller packed with terrific action and state of the art special effects that convincingly create far-off galaxies, brave new worlds and interesting aliens without ever allowing the stunning visual to overpower the exciting storytelling.

Best of all, you really don’t need to be a Trekkie in order to thoroughly enjoy this latest story from the Captain’s Log.

And, better still, the sequel has already been announced. Beam me up Scotty!

Alan Frank

USA/Canada 2016. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by deluxe.
121 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 24 Jul 2016