With Gene Rodenberry’s genius creation celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year (only 4 years younger than Doctor Who which holds the record for the longest running sci-fi series), it seems only right that Justin Lin’s first sci-fi adventure pays many subtle, and not so subtle, homages to several of the TV series and films that have preceded this latest adventure of the Enterprise bridge crew, the third in the reboot, following Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness.
The plot follows the bridge of the Enterprise, three years after the end of Star Trek Into Darkness, as they approach star base Yorktown (eliciting smirks from any fans of the musical Hamilton or anyone who knows about the American Civil War). When they respond to a distress call from an unknown race, the Enterprise is pulled into an unchartered nebula and attacked by Krall. The ship is broken up and crashes into the planet. With the crew either dead, captured by Krall and his crew, or stranded across the island, it is a race against time to rescue loved ones and discover the real reason for Krall’s thirst to kill Captain Kirk.
“A standout performance by zachary quinto”
Unlike the previous two films and much more like previous series, it is far more of an ensemble cast onscreen. Chris Pine (now very comfortable in the role of Captain Kirk) takes a more natural lead role with a standout performance by Zachary Quinto as Spock by his side; who spends half of the film trying to access his human emotions to deal with incomprehension at news he is given at the beginning of the film. It is almost reassuring to see Anton Yelchin, in sadly his last Star Trek role, have a bigger chance to shine as Commander Pavel Chekov and his camaraderie with John Cho’s Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu makes for a pleasing subplot that has been developing since Star Trek.
The women of the film have pleasing action roles in the film. Zoe Saldana’s Uhura has never been one to be simply sexualised and whilst she spends most of her time onscreen as a captive, she doesn’t shy away from her loyalty to the Enterprise and its crew, while her emotional attachment to Spock plays a small but pivotal role in the film. Newcomer to the series, Sofia Boutella shines as Jaylah; a rogue mechanic whose race was also captured by Krall and who forms an unlikely but often hilarious friendship with Scotty. Simon Pegg clearly enjoyed writing these interactions as they often garner many laughs and it is almost grateful to see the two interacting without any unnecessary sexual tension getting in the way.
“what sadly lets the side down is idris elba’s performance as krall”
With moving tributes to Leonard Nimoy throughout the film, shots of the trio of Kirk, Spock and Bones, an emphasis on the whole bridge crew and other small Easter Eggs, it’s hard not to see that Lin and Pegg have taken several leaves out of their predecessors’ books. Karl Urban does not fail to illicit laughs from the audience as his despair of his friends is expressed in his catchphrase “Dammit Jim I’m a doctor not a…” (followed by whatever they are expecting of him). What sadly lets the side down is Idris Elba’s performance as Krall. Whilst the character itself is interesting, the motives complex and the action sequences pretty cool, Elba’s performance seems rather forced and he has very little emotional room as the makeup restricts his movement and makes for sometimes a rather wooden performance that is restricted to anger and grunts of frustration.
“the film is incredibly satisfying to watch”
Void of lens flare, the film is very clearly of the nature of a new director in the Captain’s chair on the bridge. Overall the film does not fail dramatically to deliver on any front. As expected with a Fast and Furious director, it is an action packed and fast paced movie. The characters are well developed which makes for a more mature set of events, playing with emotions and, perhaps most satisfyingly, does not make a big deal of Sulu being gay but rather makes a nod to it and then moves on. The film is incredibly satisfying to watch but does leave an open ending.
With the announcement that Chekov will not be recast after Anton Yelchin’s tragic death and a new series coming to Netflix in 2017, it is uncertain and intriguing as to where this new rebooted Star Trek will go. All we can say with certainty is that they will venture, where no one has gone before.