Star Trek Beyond is the third installment of this rebooted franchise, which this time around has Justin Lin (Fast and Furious) at its directing helm and J. J. Abrams producing. Initially, when considering Lin’s appointment as director I was very apprehensive as I knew his style was certainly different to Abrams’, but after the disappointing Into Darkness, maybe this was a good thing.
From the start of the film there was a very apparent difference in the cinematography this time around, especially during the bridge scenes. The first two films appeared to have the same few shots of the Enterprise bridge that were very bright and included more lens flares than explosions in a Michael Bay film. Lin chose to show us angles we’d never seen, giving an impression of this being an actual spaceship instead of an overly glamorised set. The costumes of the crew were also slightly different and featured bolder, sharper colours that further highlighted their positions on the ship and didn’t just blend in.
It appears to be a given in these new Star Trek films that the Enterprise should be damaged at some point in the film, but Beyond took this to a whole new level by completely destroying it. Most films this summer feature heavily CGI’d destruction scenes that have almost no emotional impact on the audience. This particular sequence in Beyond was shot and scored so beautifully that it made you have feelings towards the Enterprise and certainly made it the most devastating death of the entire film.
Another big change was character interactions. The writers decided to split up the main crew and pair them up in ways we have not seen before. For example, Spock and Bones were teamed-up, two characters who previously hadn’t had many scenes together, yet proved to have fantastic chemistry and provided most of the comic relief. Sulu and Uhura were also paired and had their own contained storyline in the villain’s compound which worked very well for two characters who were mainly seen as supporting before this film. A big piece of news that came out before the release was the announcement of Sulu being gay: it is very much a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment and is done in a great way that doesn’t make a big deal about it.
There were two new additions in Beyond: Jaylah, a scavenger who lives in a Starfleet ship, and Krall, the film’s main villain. Jaylah was a very kick-ass character who was certainly a better addition to the crew than Alice Eve’s Carol Marcus. Krall was slightly more hit and miss – in the first act he is very menacing and scary, especially in the dark corridor scenes aboard the Enterprise, but in the third act he becomes very much just a generic villain who is slightly forgettable.
Since the previous film there have been two very saddening deaths of Leonard Nemoy (Spock: TOS and Reboot) and Anton Yelchin (Checkov: Reboot). Leonard Nemoy, who played an alternative universe Spock in the first two films, was celebrated along with all of the original cast in a commemorative photo given to Quinto’s Spock which was a fitting tribute. Anton Yelchin unexpectedly passed away very close to the film’s release and thus didn’t get a proper tribute. However, in this film he shines so much – he has a lot of screen time compared to previous films and is very memorable throughout.
Overall, Star Trek Beyond was a very enjoyable film and was my personal favourite of the three released. There was a lot more incorporation of other planets and the spectacularly-looking Yorktown starbase as well as better character development and more unexpected twists (certainly better than Khan’s “big” reveal last time).
Star Trek Beyond is different but in a good way and I personally hope that Justin Lin will return to the franchise.
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