Ten years ago, I would have laughed if you told me that the third instalment of a rebooted Star Trek franchise would be one of my most anticipated films of 2016. I was always more of a Star Wars guy but I've really enjoyed this new generation of Star Trek films. After two very good outings, both directed by J. J. Abrams, comes Star Trek Beyond, and there are rather disappointingly some glaring issues that stop this from being as good as its predecessors.

Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the USS Enterprise are nearing three years of their five year voyage into deep space when they are called into Starbase Yorktown, a Federation station with its own internal atmosphere and cityscape, to replenish supplies.

Upon hearing a distress signal in a region only the Enterprise can navigate, Kirk and his crew set out on a rescue mission that goes horribly wrong, as they end up separated from each other and stranded on an unknown planet under the control of Krall (Idris Elba), an enemy that will put everything both they and the Federation stand for to the test.

I had a feeling it would but walking out of Star Trek Beyond, I was left thinking just how much it missed Abrams. What was Star Wars' gain was most definitely Star Trek's loss. The unfair backlash that Into Darkness faced led the studio to make Beyond feel more like an episode of the classic Star Trek television show.

Unfortunately, they didn't aim for someone in the same league as Abrams when they hired Justin Lin to direct this instalment. Lin, a man who made audiences around the world believe that cars can actually fly with his work on the increasingly over-the-top third, fourth, fifth and sixth entries into The Fast and the Furious franchise, finds himself out of his depth here.

Yes, the crazy stunts Lin is used to bringing us are more suited to the physics of a Star Trek film however, he doesn't quite use that to his advantage, the action sequences in Beyond feeling sloppy in comparison to the crisp and energetic action we got in the first two films. The moment Kirk rides a motorbike to distract the enemy should be edited to create a lively tempo but it just isn't, instead long drawn out shots circling and swooshing over the location just get monotonous.

It's either this or the fact that it's too dark to see or the camera is shaking all over the place, making it impossible to determine what is happening in a moment of hand-to-hand combat. The liveliest moment is quite a brilliant one mind, possibly one of the best moments of the franchise, and it involves Sabotage by The Beastie Boys. I can't say much more about it.

Another change is in the writing department, with Simon Pegg and Doug Jung taking over the reins. Their writing enables the film to flow as well as the other two and they've managed to keep the dynamics established between certain characters, one of the major strengths of these films.

Which leads me on to the performances of Beyond. Chris Pine has grown more into the role of Kirk with every film and I think he's most comfortable here, parading around with such confidence and cockiness. Zachary Quinto gives his most robotic performance yet as Spock, though he does share some funny scenes with Karl Urban's "Bones", who rightfully gets most of the laughs again after being mistreated a little in Into Darkness.

Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg and the late Anton Yelchin make up the rest of the returning crew and they all perform as well as they have done before. I wasn't too keen on either Sofia Boutella's Jaylah, who helps the crew try and get off the planet, or Idris Elba's Krall, another lacklustre villain in this series of films.

It's a bit of a disappointing week for scores in new releases, particularly when they are by two of my favourites in John Williams and Michael Giacchino. Giacchino's score feels a bit like the action in Beyond, lazy and uninspiring, which is a real shame as his work on the Star Trek franchise has been wonderful up to this point.

While Star Trek Beyond is definitely a fun and entertaining enough summer blockbuster, I wanted it to be more. Would love to see Abrams return for the next film but maybe that's just a stretch too far.

Verdict: ★★★


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