Finding itself in a market dominated by franchise releases – each enjoying a cult-come-mass following – the third instalment in the rebooted Star Trek film series, Star Trek: Beyond, was always going to have a tough time battling against the blockbuster fatigue of audiences. It’s probably not a good sign, then, that the S.S Enterprise’s malfunctioning warp drive perfectly encapsulated my experience of watching the film: both were not engaged.
This isn’t to say the film doesn’t have its virtues, but, tellingly, these are not to be found in its storytelling. Frustratingly, scenes either plod along when urgency is what is required, or hurtle at breakneck speed when a calm and composed approach is in order. The overall effect? A movie that somehow manages to be both irritating and stupefying.
Where the film is on surer ground is in its design, which is slick and arresting, and in its use of CGI, which is tastefully handled. The performances, when released from the tiresome duty of delivering the plot, are almost uniformly fun and lively. The tragedy is that the charismatic cast is never allowed more than a few moments to shine: Karl Urban is great fun as Doc McCoy and his bickering-couple dynamic with Zachary Quinto’s Spock is criminally underutilised.
Like Spock, who invokes the words of Shakespeare, I, too, will draw on the words of the Bard to deliver my verdict on the film: “its full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. ‘Nothing’ might be a little strong, but ‘nothing much’ isn’t far off the mark. Chris Prindiville
‘Star Trek: Beyond’ is in cinemas now.