When it comes to television and movie franchises, it’s fair to say that ‘Star Trek’ is one of the biggest names around, and is this year celebrating its 50th Anniversary. I was lucky enough to watch the latest installment, ‘Star Trek Beyond’, at a triple bill screening, with all three films from the  rebooted series showing back-to-back in IMAX. I had seen the previous films only once before, in the years they were released, but unfortunately not at a cinema like I would have preferred. I had really high hopes for ‘Star Trek Beyond’; despite a disappointing first trailer, the rest of the marketing clearly paid homage to its TV show origins, in way of it’s colourful and retro looking posters. This gave me hope that they’d do the same with the film and would make it feel more like the classic ‘Star Trek’.

At the end of the previous film, ‘Into Darkness’, the USS Enterprise is sent on a five year exploratory mission  to “boldly go where no one has gone before”. ‘Beyond’ starts three years into this mission, with Kirk and his crew still exploring space. A short replenishing trip to a Starbase leads to the Enterprise going on a rescue mission, to help find the crew of a ship which is now stranded in a nearby nebula. Shortly after they arrive at the nebula they come under heavy attack from an unknown enemy, who we later learn is Krall (Idris Elba) and his fleet. This devastating attack leaves Kirk with no other option but to order an emergency evacuation of the ship and crash land what’s left of the Enterprise on the planet below. The majority of the crew are intercepted by the enemy’s ships almost immediately after fleeing the Enterprise in their emergency pods. We then meet Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) who finds Scotty in a spot of trouble when he crash lands. Jaylah and Scotty find Kirk and Chekov, and discover Jaylah’s “home” is an old USS ship, which they use in an attempt to find Spock and Bones – who crash-landed elsewhere on the planet – and rescue the  rest of the Enterprise crew from Krall’s headquarters which is also located on the same planet.

Being the third film in the series, we are already fairly familiar with most of the crew of the Enterprise by this point. That being said, ‘Beyond’ has a lot more character development than previously seen, with the help of some characters having one-on-one screen time in some scenes. An example of which is Spock and Bones being forced into situations together that require a little more than a few quips to one another, like we’ve seen in the previous films. Their characters’ interactions bring a fair amount of humour to the film, but we also witness the characters learning more about each other. I was slightly disappointed that we don’t really learn all that much about Jaylah throughout the film though, other than the fact that she’s pretty badass. I’m hoping we get to learn some more about her in ‘Star Trek 4’, and see her interact with more of the other characters, as that was pretty limited this time round. Idris Elba delivers a very scary and threatening performance as Krall, and even under all that CGI and makeup there is no mistaking that deep, villainous voice.

I think Justin Lin has done a superb job of directing this third installment of Star Trek – taking over the reins from J.J. Abrams – but as I haven’t seen any of his previous work I can’t really compare them to ‘Beyond’. The cinematography was very aesthetically pleasing, especially in IMAX, and the warp scenes were astonishing. There was a noticeable absence of lense flares, which were one of the biggest issues people had with Abrams’ two ‘Star Trek’ films. It hasn’t been confirmed yet who will be directing ‘Star Trek 4’, but after how much I enjoyed ‘Beyond’, I hope Lin is at least considered to sit in the director’s chair once again.

Not long before the filming began on ‘Beyond’, the legendary Leonard Nimoy unfortunately passed away and it’s beautiful to see this film honour Nimoy and his portrayal as Spock in some touching scenes, which I won’t spoil. And then, back in June, we were hit with the devastating news that Anton Yelchin, who played Pavel Chekov in all three of these new ‘Star Trek’ films, had died at the young age of 27.  Yelchin was an incredible actor and his performance as Chekov will always be one of my most memorable from these films, especially his  “I can do this” scene in the first movie. In ‘Beyond’,  Yelchin has a fair bit more screen time, and delivers another amazing performance as Chekov. The film ends its first set of credits with the words: “In loving memory of Leonard Nimoy” followed by “For Anton”, which definitely brought a few tears to the eyes of the audience, as we walked out of the cinema at 2:30am.

‘Beyond’ certainly has the strongest “Trekkie” feel to it out of the three most recent films, and again the cast’s performances and on-screen chemistry make for enjoyable viewing. I think even if you didn’t find yourself totally enjoying the ‘Star Trek’ films so far, I’d recommend watching ‘Beyond’. The crew aren’t warping here, there and everywhere constantly, so it’s a lot “smaller” in that respect, and this definitely contributed to my high rating of the film because it feels like they really concentrated on how to make it feel more like Star Trek and not just another space orientated film.

Rating: 8.8/10