Star Trek Beyond 

 

Half

 

 

A new world of incomprehensible cosmic anomalies is superimposed on a very familiar 

template - courtesy of scriptwriter Simon Pegg. But Idris Elba is an imposing villain.

 

Star Trek Beyond

Androgynous albino chic: Sofia Boutella as Jaylah

 

You can take the series out of the 1960s but you can’t take the 1960s out of the series. Before the wunderkind J.J. Abrams came on board the USS Enterprise to reboot the franchise, the starship was beginning to noticeably creak around the edges. But some things no filmmaker dare touch: the daft old catchphrases, the anodyne Captain Kirk, the ludicrously short skirts (of the female personnel) and the pantomimic villains. Now, as the Enterprises sails into its 13th big-screen instalment and Abrams has jumped ship to refuel the far superior Star Wars programme (his Star Wars: The Force Awakens is, in the US, the highest-grossing film of all time), the latest episode has been handed over to Justin Lin. The Taipei-born Lin is no stranger to sequels, having directed four of the Fast & Furious films, but the F&F phenomenon shoulders its cheesiness with rocket fuel. Here, in an age of Interstellar and Gravity, Star Trek is beginning to look a bit mouldy.

 

The latest is scripted by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung and doesn’t seem that different from anything that’s gone before. The USS Enterprise is dispatched on a rescue mission when an alien with a head like a sea vegetable tells the Federation that her ship is stranded in a nearby nebula. And so Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew travel into the furthest reaches of uncharted space to become the pawns in the plan of the incredibly evil Krall, whose head also looks like a vegetable. And, like many a villain before him, Krall is a dab hand at hand-to-hand combat, has terrible teeth, speaks perfect English and likes to kill people. Meanwhile, faced with almost instant annihilation, Kirk’s crew knock out the usual risible dialogue (Scotty: “I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then”) and tweak the possibilities of quantum physics. Scotty (Simon Pegg) is a particularly annoying creation, even if he did write his own part, and it’s hard to believe his female colleagues still allow him to call them “lassie.”  

 

But all is not lost. Perhaps, inevitably, the special effects have come a long way since 1966 and some of the visuals are genuinely awesome. Idris Elba, as Krall, in spite of the standard-issue speech impediment of extraterrestrial baddies, lends considerable heft to his role. At times, there’s almost a Shakespearean grandeur to his commander. And Krall’s secret weapon, an apparently indestructible force of machines with a swarm mentality, is beautifully rendered. There’s also a most appealing new alien character called Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), who taps into the androgynous albino vibe of Daryl Hannah’s Pris from Blade Runner. And while we’re talking of cinematic allusions, the space outpost of Yorktown is an impressive cross between something out of Inception and Elysium. At times these virtues almost overcome the monotony of the wall-to-wall music, silly dialogue and accelerated editing. But not quite.

 

The film is dedicated to the late Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin who have died, respectively, aged 83 and 27.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Lydia Wilson, Deep Roy, Shohreh Aghdashloo.

 

Dir Justin Lin, Pro J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk and Roberto Orci, Screenplay Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, Ph Stephen F. Windon, Pro Des Thomas E. Sanders, Ed Greg D'Auria, Dylan Highsmith, Kelly Matsumoto and Steven Sprung, Music Michael Giacchino, Costumes Sanja Milkovic Hays.

 

Skydance Media/Alibaba Group/Huahua Media/Bad Robot Productions/Sneaky Shark/Perfect Storm Entertainment-Paramount Pictures.

122 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 22 July 2016. Cert. 12A.