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Thursday, 21 July 2016

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'STAR TREK BEYOND'

The exciting universe of STAR TREK BEYOND arrives in cinemas from July 22nd, 2016. Images: PARAMOUNT.

Frantic action and visual spectacle are the main watchwords for the latest adventure in the legendary STAR TREK series re-imagining created for modern generation IMAX lovers. J.J. Abrams confident mastering of the sci-fi material via his two previous adventures in 2009 and 2013 has now been transferred to a new custodian, the at-first controversial choice of FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise director Justin Lin. I'm happy to report that Lin's status as a die-hard fan of the series, since its syndicated success in the early seventies, is clear to see within the entire structure of STAR TREK BEYOND, as he and writer/fellow fan Simon Pegg concoct a film that, despite a thinness of plot, has lots to recommend, with the odd surprise here and there thrown in, that most fans will be genuinely pleased with, bolstered by some equally worthy special references and celebrations (in this landmark Fiftieth Anniversary year) to those early ground-breaking adventures first realised on TV by William Shatner, the late, great Leonard Nimoy, and their other esteemed supporting cast mates. There's even some clever referencing to the later series franchises that's equally satisfying, especially the under-rated STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE, and a notable tribute to Abrams so well received re-launch film.

A new world, a new peril, awaits Captain Kirk (Chris Pine).

The special friendship and rivalry between Bones (Karl Urban) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) continues.

The cast of the re-invigorated U.S.S. Enterprise are ultimately as hip and fun as ever, though STAR TREK BEYOND starts off on an interesting and slightly somber note: Chris Pine's James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto's Vulcan science officer Spock's maturing figures more melancholy as their ship and crew enter the third year of their incredible space exploration mission at the Final Frontier- for the most part totally on their own in its dark wilderness. That broodiness soon disappears into a massive adrenaline fight for survival when our beloved vessel is rapidly torn to shreds by an unknown swarm force whilst responding to a far-off distress call, for what becomes a superb and genuinely thrilling sequence, a crucial part of a movie with absolutely superb effects work at their biggest scale yet. As the splintered crew, now trapped ashore on a craggy and hostile world, are captured by the 'unique' alien warlord Krall (underused but played with charisma by Idris Elba), Gene Roddenberry's diverse heroes show their mettle through the story both separately, in duos, and together, whilst fighting back, aided by the mysterious and charming new alien heroine that is Jaylah (a standout Sofia Boutella). This time out, John Cho's Mister Sulu and the much-missed Anton Yelchin's Chekov thankfully get more to do than the previous INTO DARKNESS, but the lovely presence of Zoe Saldana's Lt. Uhura is wasted yet again.

Singular resistance fighter Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) is a plus for the movie.

Overall, and to its credit, STAR TREK BEYOND has the kind of series episode feel that viewers will remember and enjoy. Let your brain skip over the self-indulgent technobabble present, and the vital lack of a clearly defined morality message that was always such a key strength to the original version of STAR TREK, and just swim in the cinematic fireworks and surrounding enthusiasm so warmly present across two hours.

AFICIONADO RATING: 3.5 out of 5

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