STAR TREK BEYOND
The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.
Review by Louise Keller:
There is a constant sense of motion in this grand scale sci-fi adventure, and while special effects overtake character and plot, we are grounded by the welcome familiarity of the characters we have long known and loved. Fast and Furious director Justin Lin replaces J.J. Abrams in this third of the latest franchise, bringing with him a vital energy that accelerates the action, sometimes to the detriment of plot comprehension and dialogue.
I would prefer more character-based interaction amidst the heavy-duty thrills, but there is enough to massage the relationships and emotional undercurrents of the human and alien life forms. Besides, there is a sense of fun sandwiched amidst the life and death issues that allow us, like the characters, to get lost in space.
The unexpected nature of unchartered space travel becomes apparent in the opening sequence in which an artifact, whose relevance is not known, is brought to the USS Enterprise. There are new writers onboard this time, with Simon Pegg and Doug Jung penning the screenplay in which the villainous Krall (an unrecognizable Idris Elba looking like a chalky giant lizard with rasping voice), uses his considerable powers to retrieve the artifact.
Both Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto with quizzical eyebrows) are at the crossroads three years into their five year mission, with Kirk questioning his motives and Spock reconsidering his priorities. These are the characters that form the heart of Star Trek and both Pine and Quinto ably embody their iconic essence. I like the understatement in the scenes in which the two men stand side by side as they contemplate sharing confidences. The implied romance between Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) is only hinted at and there is a wonderful illogical twist to the interaction between Spock and Bones (Karl Urban), with whom Spock spends most of his time. Scotty (Pegg, in fine form) is paired up much of the time with Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), a hypnotic, albino-esque alien with long white hair and whose face is an artist’s palette for bold black paint strokes, a la 70s rock group, Kiss. John Cho is fine as Sulu and Anton Yelchin does a great job in his final screen role.
The visuals are eye-popping with shimmering gold rock formations, explosive space fireworks and highly imaginative sequences that, even if you are not sure exactly what is going on, are stimulating to watch. Highlight is the diversionary action sequence in which Kirk speeds along treacherous, rocky terrain amid holograms with the use of the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage music track effective at a later date. While the entire film is a welcome breath of sci-fi escapism, my fingers are crossed that next time around, there is a little more attention to the characters and to put them ahead of the visual spectacle – or at least on par.
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STAR TREK BEYOND (tba)
CAST: Anton Yelchin, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, Chris Pine, Sofia Boutella, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, Shoreh Aghdashloo, John Cho, Fiona Vroom, Deep Roy
PRODUCER: J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Roberto Orci
DIRECTOR: Justin Lin
SCRIPT: Simon Pegg, Doug Jung (TV series by Gene Roddenberry)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephen F. Windon
EDITOR: Greg D'Auria, Dylan Highsmith, Kelly Matsumoto, Steven Sprung
MUSIC: Michael Giacchino
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Thomas E. Sanders
RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 21, 2016