In a dark corner of space — let’s call it the final frontier — resentment has taken hold. There is a feeling of having been left behind by a distant centralising power, whose agenda of peace and unity is seen as an affront. The name of this power is the Federation, spat out in calls to seize back the galaxy and make it the place it once was. “The Federation has always pushed at the frontier,” goes one. “This is where the frontier pushes back!”
Yep. The pleasures of Star Trek Beyondare many. Its digitally magicked action sequences, overseen by director Justin Lin, are loudly spectacular. The mood is brisk and fun. Yet for plenty of viewers, particularly British ones, there may not be much in the way of escapism in Simon Pegg’s script, which opens with the slapstick botching of a treaty before going ever more boldly the way of Trexit.
Still, the film is jauntily at ease with itself. Comfortable too is Captain Kirk (Chris Pine). Beginning his 966th day in deep space, perhaps too much so. “Things have started,” he muses, “to feel a little episodic.” The ideal moment, then, for Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise to visit Starbase Yorktown, a vast floating city state. Its people could hardly be more cosmopolitan: industrious, harmonious, occasionally lime green.
Soon Kirk has all the adventure he could want. First a false pretext lures the Enterprise into uncharted space; then enter a villain, Krall (Idris Elba), looking like walking seafood. Mayhem ensues, his real purpose soon clear. Enraged by its happy alliance, Krall plans to destroy the Federation — starting with the metropolitan ways of Yorktown where, he sneers, “Millions of souls hold hands.”
Though its sense of peril would barely raise a sweat in a kindergarten, the film has surprising vim for the third part in a franchise inspired by a 50-year-old TV show. Deft in accommodating the needs of fans, Lin gives the creak of the old a place in a symphony of high-end effects. The latter brings warships massed like starlings, the former an ongoing reliance on sudden beamings up.