Film review: Star Trek Beyond is a fun voyage

The movie is an utterly enjoyable two hours of subtly political space action.

Karl Urban, left, as Doctor McCoy and Zachary Quinto as Spock in Star Trek Beyond. Kimberley French / Paramount Pictures
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Star Trek Beyond

Director: Justin Lin

Starring: Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, Zachary Quinto, Idris Elba

Three-and-a-half stars

It has been 50 years since Star Trek first appeared on our television screens, and Star Trek Beyond, the third movie in the rebooted film series, is at the heart of the anniversary celebrations.

When Gene Roddenberry created the original TV series, which began in 1966, he dreamt of a world united in love, peace and the spirit of exploration. Half a century later, that remains a dream – but the crew of the USS Enterprise are still doing their best to lead us there.

For those who live in Dubai, there is another attraction – the chance to spot a few local landmarks – the film spent several weeks shooting in the city last year. Its many towers and marvels are used to great effect – not so much as “a vertical city” as was initially suggested by the filmmakers, but as architectural stalagmites and stalactites emerging from Starfleet’s “newest and most advanced” space station.

You will spot several familiar favourites – the Burj Al Arab plays an inverted role, Almas Tower is strangely perennial, and there’s a lingering fascination with one particular metro station.

Let's not get too distracted by the Dubai landmarks though – this is a Star Trek movie, after all, not a holiday brochure.

When Idris Elba’s villainous Krall declares that “unity is your weakness”, it is impossible not to draw the parallels with the present-day world we live in.

Donald Trump, Brexit, conflicts across the Middle East – there are no shortage of reminders that unity is not a favoured currency right now. Krall certainly does not buy into Roddenberry’s idea of an inclusive world of equality for all.

The movie is an utterly enjoyable two hours of subtly political space action. It effortlessly flits from full-on phaser blasting and starship destruction to character-interaction and bromance – in fact, the brotherly love relationship between Zachary Quinto’s eminently logical Spock, and Karl Urban’s emotional, cynical and sarcastic Doctor McCoy is one of the highlights.

Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk, in fact, becomes almost a peripheral figure next to this developing relationship, which provides many of the film’s most thrilling moments, and many of its best jokes, too.

With director Justin Lin (Fast and Furious) behind the camera, there is never too much of a wait for the next high-octane action sequence, while with British comedian Simon Pegg leading the writing team, you can also guarantee that some social commentary isn't too far away, either.

It’s almost a perfect match, although Pegg’s terrible faux-Scottish accent as chief engineer Scotty – this time around saying “lassie” every 47 seconds – does begin to grate.

This is clearly not the greatest film ever made by any means, but it is eminently palatable summer fare. If you are planning a trip to the cinema this weekend, it is the film to see.