Starring: John Cho, Simon Pegg, Sofia Boutella Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba.
Written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, directed by Justin Lin. Budget $185 million. Running time 122 minutes.
Three years into its five year mission the USS Enterprise arrives at the Federation's most distant outpost- the visually stunning Yorktown station which sits beside a huge, unexplored nebula. The station is planet size and filled with millions of well dressed Federation civilians whose jobs seem to be milling around or walking. But before Chris Pine's Kirk can accept a promotion to Rear Admiral and Zachary Quinto's Spock can resign to pursue other interests the Federation's seemingly only functioning spaceship, Enterprise, is called upon to rescue a crew of bobbly-headed aliens who have crashed landed somewhere inside the unexplored Nebula having been attacked by another new, very angry, lumpy-headed race of space aliens.
Throwing caution to the solar winds the Enterprise navigates the fore-mentioned 'unexplored' nebula, finds an unknown planet and gets totally owned by a vast cloud of attack spaceships which leaves the iconic spaceship literally dismembered and scattered upon the planet's surface along with its crew who are promptly captured by the baddies. Except, that is, for the core members of the ship, Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Bones and Chekov who all manage to evade the baddies lead by Idris Elba's Krall and reunite to rescue their buddies from Krall who it turns out to be some sort of energy vampire. Sadly Uhru and Sulu are captured, which turns out to be a blessing cos that way we get to find out what Krall is up to as the story peels away his crusty exterior to reveal his nefarious plans. Meanwhile, Scotty is rescued by visually striking alien shipwreck survivor, Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), Bones and Spock bond and declare their admiration for each other and poor Kirk and Chekov plot and brood, and an old, long-lost USS Federation spaceship is discovered.
So far, so the trailer...
But after this big build up the story proper can begin and what a fun, exciting story it is. Feeling a lot like the original series, all action, bluster and punch ups alongside discussions about humanity and its finest values - unity, love and shit like that. The villains lead by Idris's Krall not only speak English, but seem to have a major bee in their collective bonnets for the Federation and have luckily just finished building a mysterious weapon with unbelievable destructive power. But why..?
It's a great fun movie, which works because it's a new story, with new characters and not another attempt to retool old story plots. The cast seem much more relaxed in their roles and far less show-offy. This is an ensemble movie with each of the iconic crew taking turns to be stage-centre. Credit must go to Pegg as one of the two writers who injects a massive, much need jolt of humour to proceedings. The script buzzes with enthusiasm and love for the subject matter.
It's a delight to report that this completely erases the vileness of the last Star Trek outing and means I can happily watch this and the first one back-to-back and have a satisfying four hour movie marathon!
It doesn't get everything right, the tedious obsession with frantic camera shakes and fast editing in the fight scenes make most of those unwatchable, some of the cgi is a tad ropey and the utter, callous disregard for the death of, what must be, much loved members of the Enterprise's crew by Kirk and others is bizarre. And plot wise, you have to ignore the fact that the Yorktown station is so big and has so many civs living there, but at least, thank god, the plot isn't yet another Earth-bound, destruction plot. No, this time, it's an Earth-like, planet-like destruction plot.
And finally, the only crew member of this film who gets short thrift is the good old Enterprise herself. The old films gave you a sense of the ship and its layout, we recognised the corridors and the Jefferson Tubes, the turbo lifts and the route, sort of, to the sick bay. Plus there was a sense that the old Kirk loved his ship, but in this film there's no sense of geography to it nor a sense it's much loved. It's just a series of corridors and before we know it, it's destroyed - again! Jeez, just how many times has this new Enterprise been destroyed? Three times isn't it? Wasn't it Oscar Wilde who said, "To lose one Intergactic Federation starship may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness, but three! THREE! Now you're just taking the piss!" Good old Oscar Wilde.
Anyway, this is still a satisfying, entertaining and enjoyable sci-fi romp which must rank as the easily the 2nd best film of this year's glut of medicore summer blockbusters. 8/10.