The days of J.J. Abrams misunderstanding and misrepresenting Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek universe are over.
Shed of Abrams’ under-confidence in the merits of the wildly popular franchise, in the hands of director Justin Lin, Star Trek: Beyond finally boldly goes where it should have when the series was initially rebooted in 2009. Star Trek is not Star Wars, James T. Kirk is not Han Solo and Lin knows it.
The film opens two years into a five-year long voyage of deep space exploration. Kirk (Chris Pine) is growing restless of his mission, finding that the tasks at hand are becoming stale and ‘episodic’. The use of that crucial word is a welcome hint from Lin and screenwriters, Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, thatStar Trek: Beyond will embrace the foundations laid out by Roddenberry’s original series, and not the ones established by Abrams’ entertaining albeit careless space operas.
The Enterprise is drawn into a rescue mission that will lead to Kirk and the crew being stranded on a distant and inhospitable planet. It’s all part of the nefarious plan of villain, Krull (Idris Elba). It will also feel familiar to anyone with any degree of acquaintance with science fiction but that’s sort of the point. There’s a sense of classicism to Star Trek: Beyond. It appreciates the legacy with which it interacts. It also doesn’t shy away from character interaction and development that don’t run in conjunction with action set pieces. The film plays like an episode of the original television series with an enormous budget. The confidence in Roddenberry’s universe and characters is welcome.
Part of that confidence entails optimism, something of a rarity in science fiction. The Federation is a reflection of the future at its most constructive and positive. That buoyancy saturates Star Trek: Beyond, from its noticeably multicultural approach to casting to the inclusion of a central homosexual character to the fact that Kirk is not an antagonistic leader but rather engages in violence only when drawn into combat. Star Trek: Beyond allows for inclusivity and it allows for reflection. Those were once two of the principle hallmarks of Roddenberry’s saga. Star Trek is Star Trek again.
In cinemas: July 21, 2016
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban
Directed by: Justin Lin