Certificate 12A, 122 minutes
Director: Justin Lin
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban
Star Trek Beyond, the latest film in the reboot film series and the sequel to Into Darkness, opens with Captain James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, This Means War) announcing that he is a neutral representative to the Teenaxians on behalf of the Fibonan. The Fibonan have given Kirk a piece of a weapon (which the Teenaxians decide they must have stolen) as a symbol of their peaceful intentions; the Teenaxians do not respond well, and the whole event goes quite badly (in a humorous rather than fatal way), with Kirk having to beam out of there. Arriving back on the Enterprise, Kirk states that he has ripped his shirt again (something William Shatner's Kirk did in many episodes of The Original Series). With the peace attempt having fallen apart, the peace offering is placed in the archive, and the details entered into the Federation database. In a bit of foreshadowing, there is a close up of the monitor when this is done, and the screen flickers from some sort of interference.
With this, the Enterprise heads to the Yorktown, the Federation's newest and most advanced starbase (not the Constitution-class starship from the same time period in TOS). This is a huge globe, a city floating in space enclosed within a transparent sphere, far in advance of anything seen in either TOS or The Next Generation. It also looks, as Dr 'Bones' McCoy (Karl Urban, Dredd) points out, rather fragile. Kirk himself is trying to decide what to do with his life. The Enterprise is on the 966th day, around 3 years into its 5 year mission, and he's considering a change, as he's a couple of days away from his birthday, the day his father died, and he's now a year older than his father ever managed. Kirk is now essentially considering living his own life, which he considers a bit episodic (perhaps another reference to TOS, which was episodic?), rather than his father's, and he's applied for the post of vice admiral onboard the Yorktown.
The nebula is described as being unstable (and looks more like a big cloud of rocks in space than a nebula) and communications will not be possible from inside, so the Enterprise is on her own. As they approach the planet, Altamid, an M-class planet, they detect very little on the surface, but extensive underground works. Sensors also detect a nearby ship. This turns out not to be a single ship, but a cloud of many thousands of smaller ships, which attack. To coin a phrase, "It's a trap!" These ships prove difficult to defeat, because there are far too many of them, and they crash into parts of the Enterprise, shredding her and severing the warp nacelles.
The Enterprise is then boarded by the attackers, who are led by Krall (Idris Elba). Krall is looking for the weapon part from the very beginning, which he calls the Abronath. Kirk manages to stop Krall from getting the Abronath but, rather oddly, Krall seems to recognise Kirk. With the ship coming to pieces around him, Kirk orders the crew to abandon ship. Many get to the escape pods, but are then captured by the attackers, whilst the saucer section crashes onto the planet below.
The planet is inhabited by Krall's forces, as well as a number of other survivors of ships that they've attacked over the years. Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott (Simon Pegg) quickly meets Jaylah (Sofia Boutella, Kingsman: The Secret Service), a survivor from another ship who recognises his insignia. She agrees to help him if he will help her, because she happens to have a very, very old crashed Federation starship that she wants fixing. Kirk and Chekov (Anton Yelchin, Fright Night - Beyond is dedicated to both Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, the latter dying in an accident shortly before the release) are together and free, as are McCoy and Spock, although the latter is injured. Much of the humour in the film comes from the interactions between these two characters. Uhura (Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy) and Sulu (John Cho) are prisoners of Krall, along with the rest of the survivors from the Enterprise's crew.
Krall seems to believe in a philosophy of conflict, and feels that the Federation is weak in its unity, and that only individuals are strong. In fact, Krall seems a rather curious individual. most of his forces are essentially faceless 'redshirts,' with the exception of Manas (Joe Taslim), who appears to be his second in command. He also, despite having great strength, also seems to be less than fully functional, with either hardware replacements or armour that helps him move. Krall intends to move against the Federation, but the true reason why seems uncertain. There does not seem to have been any conflict between the Federation and his people in the past, so his hatred of the organisation seems odd, as is his level of knowledge of it and the Enterprise. For an unknown enemy, he is curiously well informed. There are other bits of seemingly innocent foreshadowing that will help reveal what his true motivations are, but these are not revealed until close to the end. Kirk has to stop Krall and rescue his crew, before there are countless deaths.
The film is available in both 2D and 3D, with the 3D version being the one watched. With this having extensive space scenes, as well as some on top of tall structures, this is one of the live action films that works better in 3D - mostly because there's a lot of CGI in it. As soon as events move to the ground, the 3D becomes a lot less noticeable. The space scenes are some of the best, and the, very early (possibly traumatic?), destruction of the Enterprise shows that this film is moving in a different direction to the others in the series. The characters interact quite well, with Bones' and Spock's interactions being by far the best (and rather appropriate to both characters). Jaylah is an interesting, rather young-seeming yet competent character, who works well with Scotty.
One thing that stands out is the one of the most hilariously different weapons of space warfare that's ever been seen (which is foreshadowed earlier). This is probably quite a polarising thing; viewers will either love it or hate it. The destruction of the Enterprise raises the possibility that this will have echoes of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, but any similarities are quite minimal - basically boiling down to not having the Enterprise to play around in. The whole movie has the chance of annoying some viewers whilst others love it. It is pretty much non-stop action with some nice scenes and set pieces and some good character interactions. Krall in particular keeps you guessing, as his motivations are, quite deliberately, hard to fathom out. Star Trek Beyond continues the franchise in spectacular action-centric fashion, and it's highly likely that there will be another to follow.