Star Trek Beyond – Film4

Chris Pine sits and looks thoughtful on the deck of the Starship Enterprise
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A playful and spirited third adventure in the rebooted space saga. 4/5 stars

'Things have started to feel a little episodic,' muses Chris Pine's Captain James T Kirk at the start of the third adventure in the rebooted Star Trek series. We know how he feels.

Happily, the movie, co-written by Simon 'Scotty' Pegg, proves a playful, spirited tonic for anyone left jaded by Starfleet routine or by the prospect of yet another sci-fi sequel. Much of the fun simply comes from watching the crew conform to our expectations, giving new spins to old routines. Familiarity breeds content. As ever, Pine's Kirk is recklessly daring, while Zachary Quinto's Spock remains imperturbably calm, even when marooned in the company of Karl Urban's comically dour medic Bones.

Equally reliably, Pegg's engineer Scotty delivers his customary quota of droll jokes and miraculous technical fixes. All play their part when the Enterprise crew end up in their latest jam; lured to an alien planet by the fearsome and sadistic Krall, played by Idris Elba, unrecognisable beneath layers of prosthetic make-up save for tell-tale traces of his familiar Hackney accent. Fortunately, our heroes find a resourceful new ally on the planet in the shape of Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella (the sleekly lethal Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service). A kick-ass fighter in black-and-white war paint, she forms a delightful double act with Pegg's Scotty after the pair team up.

When it gets to the action scenes, however, things prove slightly disappointing, with Justin Lin's blurry, fast-and-furious direction often making it hard to work out what is going on. But the film has enough humour and heart to enable us to forgive its flaws.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.