2016 – USA
Director: Justin Lin
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Idris Elba, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg
Words: C. Abbott
Since the reboot of the franchise was announced with J.J. Abrams at the helm, Star Trek has been rejuvenated. It now boasts a new sense of size and scope the franchise has never seen before. Back in 2009 when the first of the remake/continuation films landed it was met with critical acclaim and admiration from fans alike. This promise of a young, talented cast and a bold new vision quickly dissipated with the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, a film so caught up in playing homage to its predecessors that it never was able to stand on its own. Now J.J. Abrams has taken a backseat into the producers chair and Justin Lin, director for around half of the Fast & Furious franchise has left his mark on one of pop cultures most beloved and enduring staples. This had the recipe for disaster written all over it, the trailers gave us a glimpse into a film that was having a serious identity crisis, half the cast were discussing how they wanted to move on to other projects and Rihanna launched a new single composed for it. How could this be any more than a failure? As it turns out, it’s a new high for the Star Trek cannon.
Setting off three years into the crew’s five year mission to explore the unknown reaches of space, the Enterprise is attacked and crash lands on an alien world. The team is divided and without rescue, facing an all new threat. This is the narrative that works so well within the franchise, feeling more like an episode in the original series rather than a dour pseudo-continuation. Simon Pegg helped pen the script here and his love for the universe and lore shines through. The pacing is brisk without oversimplifying and the two hour runtime flies by just how an entertaining, closed narrative blockbuster should. Crew members are parted from one another and all given their moments through comedy, action and drama. A particular highlight is Bones and Spock, played by Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto to perfection, trying to navigate this new world and given time to develop. All the characters see a real sense of development here, they are finally moving away from the young, hot-headed types towards the now veteran explorers, who you believe would be envoys for all the good of humanity. Chris Pine as Kirk particularly benefits from this, no longer the idiot who disregards the development and culture of primitive species, but a man that genuinely has a love for his crew and his mission.
Above all this film captures something that has been lost from Star Trek for far too long, its message. A message of hope and unity for the future of humanity, something perhaps needed now more than ever. In this age of Hollywood when grit and darkness takes precedence, this is a refreshing adventure, as inspiring and optimistic and Gene Roddenberry originally envisioned back in 1966.