Helmed by Justin Lin, Star Trek Beyond definitely feels different from the previous instalments. More than just lens flares, JJ Abrams brought a sleek sophistication, his visual style suited the universe of the federation. Lin may lose this visual flair but brings with him a tighter pace and a stronger sense of fun, qualities honed from his work on the ‘fast and furious’ franchise. However whilst these make for a still enjoyable ride, they feel out of place for Star Trek – while the quality of the production is still admirable, Lin has perhaps made his biggest mistake in making Star Trek Beyond feel standard; yet another summer blockbuster which will entertain but leave little lasting effect.
Star Trek Beyond balances the line of homage and reboot well; learning from Into Darkness’ mistakes, the film honours the late Leonard Nimoy and the original series in general without losing originality and still building on this different interpretation of the famous characters from the previous two reboot instalments. This is done in large part through writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung who create a simple plot but fuel it with strong humour, action and emotion to rise it above a lot of other blockbusters. They have shown skill in balancing the wide cast, giving each member their moment to shine whilst still developing new characters like Sofia Boutellas Jaylah, whose unique look and attitude make her a compelling addition yet she is seemingly forgotten about in the third act where Kirk again takes centre stage. Whilst villain Krall is at first glance a generic menace for the crew to face, his backstory reveal late in the film (which I dare not spoil) reveals him to be, in my eyes, the strongest antagonist yet for this franchise with Idris Elba giving an expectedly chilling performance.
Regardless of my appreciation for the script, I still have problems with Beyonds blatant approach to adopting the Star Trek Mythos, Lins focus on action and spectacle may be entertaining but he loses something in translation, sequences are forgettable and standard with little differentiating Beyond from other science fiction if you take out the pre established characters. While the make up is masterful on Jaylah and Krall, the visual effects were very disappointing with character animation fitting poorly with the admittedly beautiful digital backdrops; Its a shame as the cinematography is often beautiful and Lin certainly knows how to shoot a compelling chase scene.
Star Trek Beyond may sacrifice its unique sense of discovery for primal action and thrills but it is still a satisfying summer blockbuster with strong performances and a sense of fun.