Film Review: Star Trek Beyond

by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana. Directed by Justin Lin.

Space: the final frontier. Or the perfect setting for billion-dollar film franchises.

Star Trek is back for its third outing since its 2009 reboot with Beyond, but this time Justin Lin (Fast & the Furious 3-6) is in the director’s chair, with JJ Abrams producing – he was busy in some other pocket of the universe with that other film.

We meet Captain James T. Kirk (Pine) on the USS Enterprise, who together with his crew have spent three years in deep space. As he celebrates another birthday, he ponders the monotony of life – and whether his heart is really in space adventuring anymore. Cue crisis in space: the Enterprise is attacked by a swarm of bee-like ships, led by the evil Krall (Idris Elba) – and crashes on a planet, splitting up the Enterprise crew in the process. The rest of Beyond plays out as a classic Star Trek television adventure would: with a good dose of danger, humour, and exploration of mysterious (and visually spectacular) lands.

I thoroughly enjoyed Star Trek Beyond. Lin has proven ability to make an fun action movie, and keeps things enjoyable for Trekkies and non-Trekkies alike. Visually, Beyond is stunning and creative – moving from futuristic, shiny, gravity-defying cities where trains whizz about, to mountainous landscapes and forests filled with grey and green hues. The costume and make-up design is also spot on – seen particularly in alien scavenger Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). And while Abrams’ gorgeous colour pallette and lens flare might be missing this time around, there’s still stacks of bright lights (and Beastie Boys music) to keep Trekkies happy.

There are points in Beyond where the action jumps about – so pay close attention to keep up. There was one plot twist that didn’t dawn on me until half-an-hour after I left the cinema! The ensemble cast is excellent as always, but Elba’s Krall isn’t anywhere near as ferocious as Benedict Cumberbatch’s turn as Khan in Into Darkness.

‘We find hope in the impossible’

As Kirk ponders his passion for intergalactic missions, there’s an obvious weight on his shoulders – in the shape of his father, George. As he enjoys a birthday drink with McCoy (Karl Urban), the flame of passion for his work is flickering. Similarly, another character proves to be jaded from years in space. Both of these men have lost their passion, and heart for space exploration.

This reminded me of a part of the Bible, where the church in Ephesus is addressed, and rebuked for forgetting their first love, Jesus. Revelation 2:3-4 –

‘You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.’

This church had been working so hard for so long, yet had forgotten what it was all about – Jesus. The love they had for the one who saved their souls had wavered. Kirk has been busy journeying through space, and his love for space exploration had wavered too – and there’s a question: will he walk away or remember his passion, and see it reignited?

If you’re a follower of Jesus, you might be in the motions of going to church, events… But maybe it’s time to step back and remember your first love – Jesus.

The Verdict: Star Trek Beyond captures the best of the franchise while catapulting it into daring new territory, at warp speed. It’s the best film this blockbuster season, so far. 4/5

Star Trek Beyond releases in cinemas worldwide later this week.

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