In unity we are stronger together, is the punch line for Star Trek Beyond – the third film in the franchise, reflecting the ideal for the Federation the crew believe in, and a philosophy for our own age of anxiety.
When we left our heroes at the end of the second film in the re-booted series, they were off to explore uncharted aspects of the universe, after bringing the Starship Enterprise, which had suffered severe structural damage while defeating the arch villain Khan, back to life.
The crew we all care about are all on board the Enterprise for this the third film in the series, and this one is set entirely in outer space; Chris Pine is Captain James Tiberius Kirk and Zachary Quinto is First Officer Spock, Karl Urban is physician Doctor ‘Bones’ McCoy, with Zoe Saldana as Communications Officer Lieutenant Uhura, Simon Pegg as Chief Engineer Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott, John Chu as Helmsman Sulu and the late Anton Yelchin is engineering genius Chekov.
Please don’t read any more if you don’t want spoilers.
Kirk and his crew are now three years into their peace mission and are visiting an alien planet, when the locals take exception to an ambassadorial gift Captain Kirk is trying to give them, one Spock has chosen out of an array of curiosities the Enterprise is carrying on board.
They are insulted for some reason and after all the excitement of escaping they cannot do anything but flee.
The circumstances put Spock and Bones together bantering and bickering boundlessly while sparring stylishly. Simon Pegg does a sterling job with the script and it is all very entertaining.
Spock is going through a difficult time, he has just been advised from earth that his other self (Leonard Nimoy) has passed on and it causes him to reflect on his life so far, where he’s heading and whether he should become a Vulcan patriarch.
He and Kirk seem at odds with each other too and so it is not too soon when the Enterprise docks at a Federation outpost Yorktown to refresh all its crew’s bodies and minds.
This purpose built planet which is a starbase sited far out in space, is a multi-functional dizzying kind of place defined by its steel and glass cities of the future, which are encircled by a glass sphere.
A vivid representation right out of human imagination, fans won’t be disappointed with this new destination recorded in Starlog journals.
Kirk is invited by the head of Yorktown’s governors to consider her proposal to put him forward as a Vice Admiral of Starfleet, which means he would be desk bound, not in space with his team.
This is a new Jim Kirk. These days while he still has a tendency to charge forward based on his own good instincts, he’s also learning restraint and patience, necessary attributes for a Starship commander.
He understands the importance of listening to what all his support team have to say and then and only then and after he has completed his own research and paid respect to his sources, does he make a decision.
If it will affect all his crew he shares it with them all on an open channel, the mark of a true leader. Having had a number of setbacks, his maturity is starting to shine through, justifying his role as a ‘peace’ maker.
He wisely defers his decision about accepting a new position until after they return from a new mission into an uncharted nebula, where they are unsure of what lays ‘beyond’.
Beyond the nebula they now find a new enemy waiting, one whom they would never have predicted in a million years. An alien with the face of a giant reptile, his name is Krall (Idris Elba) and he becomes an unexpected adversary.
Way out here in the back of beyond Krall speaks and understands English and also thinks like a Starfleet captain. He is also seemingly one step ahead of them all the time and about the power of one, testing not only the resolve of the crew of the Starship Enterprise, but also their courage.
First he wants to relieve them of the Abronath, the rejected gift from the other planet, which he has learned they have by infiltrating their ship’s technology. It is apparently a key that only he knows about, one that leads to unlimited power.
Needless to say he also wants it so that he can kill them all, destroy Yorktown and all the other Federation planets in the galaxy. The odds as always, are astronomical.
Captain Kirk orders his crew to abandon ship as we watch the Enterprise attacked by the vast fleet of metallic swarming bee like objects Krall controls, which scissor through the hull before she can land on his planet.
She is torn apart, the disc lost forever after crashlanding in the mountains in a landscape where rocky outcrops resemble jagged knife blades.
His command crew on the bridge all have personal escape pods and after Scotty lands, he meets an impressive young alien woman, Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) who has been abandoned on Krall’s planet for a long time.
She has created a secret home to cater for her own survival, after Krall killed her crew and family. She has masked this sanctuary, which is teetering exposed on the top of a mountain, with a cloak of invisibility.
Scotty discovers it is amazingly an old technology Starfleet vessel, The Franklin and so seeks her help to bring it back to life and save his friends, some of whom have been captured.
The Franklin they discover went missing in another age when no one on earth believed at the time that it would or indeed could have penetrated as far as it had into deep space.
Wherein lies the problem because its captain at the time believed he was abandoned and it is he who has amazingly met morphed into their opponent Krall and is seeking revenge against his own kind.
The reference to earth comes when Captain Kirk mounts a motorcycle, much like the one his father reputedly rode eons ago, as he is trying to both confuse and confound Krall as they do their best to stop him becoming all-powerful.
Star Trek Beyond proves to be another epic voyage as the crew of the Starship Enterprise and led by Captain James T Kirk all are tested way beyond their own limits.
I am an original Trekkie fan and I must say I do like all the actors chosen for the new Enterprise crew. They are such an impressive bunch of performance artists, especially when given good dialogue to work with.
We will all miss the wonderful young Chekov, his loss is such a deeply sad tragedy and it is fitting that Paramount dedicated the film to his memory.
Sulu and Uhura have some special moments too, however there were some scenes that were so fast and furious, they didn’t seem to make sense. Justin Lin as Director – well I would prefer JJ Abrams, but there it is.
In the end all our heroes come together as one to defeat Krall as he and his destructive ‘bees’ as they attack Yorktown, kick starting the old Franklin back to life. The fact that they are swarming as bees on earth do, helps them to work out a way to interrupt their pattern in a hope of defeating them and Krall. Despite initial success, he has more up his sleeve and there’s a cliffhanging scene at the end which will have you on the edge of your seat. It all comes down to James Kirk to take Krall on, one on one and to stop him from destroying millions of lives.
Jaylah comes to the Starship Enterprise crew’s aid, proving herself not only worthy of their trust but also admission into the Starfleet Academy and so we could reasonably expect to see her again in the future as they ‘boldly go where no man has gone before’, but in unity. Bring on number four.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016
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