Star Trek Beyond

Director: Justin Lin (2016) BBFC 12A

Beam yourself aboard the starship Enterprise for a non stop rocket ride of outer space adventure.

This third film in the rebooted sci fi franchise is a solid improvement on the muddled second episode Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). Lin has directed 4 of the Fast Furious films and he’s energised this series after JJ Abrams’ faltering tenure. There’s every suspicion Abrams’ head being turned by the opportunity to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2014) resulted in the mess that was Into Darkness.

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Zaldana, Anton Yelchin, John Cho and Simon Pegg slip easily into their natty new uniforms as Captain James T. Kirk, Mr Spock, Uhura, Chekov, Sulu and Scottie. Though it’s Karl Urban as the irascible Dr McCoy who is gifted the best lines.

Sofia Boutella enjoys herself in an aggressively  physical role as Jaylah, a non human. In the Federation, everyone is an alien. There’s no return for Alice Eve as Dr Carol Marcus and at no point are any women required to pose in their underwear, a gratuitous moment which embarrassed Into Darkness even more than the script did.

While on a rescue mission through an unchartered nebula, the Enterprise is attacked by a swarm of giant insect like steel spaceships.

Most of the crew are killed or kidnapped, the Enterprise is destroyed and the captain is stranded on a nearby planet. It’s home to a powerful warlord called Krall, played with muscular menace by Idris Elba.

There’s a jaw dropping action sequence on a beautifully designed space station, anti gravity combat and a mysterious ancient alien weapon. I can’t stress how fabulous the space station is. It’s fragile grace is one of the most remarkable pieces of design I’ve seen this cinema year.

As well as starring, uber Trekkie Pegg co-wrote. In his best work for years the script cleaves closely to the soaring spirit of joshing optimism and adventure of the original 1960’s TV show.

There’s a touching moment of remembrance for Leonard Nimoy who essayed the part of Spock for many years and the film is dedicated to Anton Yelchin who sadly died this year.

A fourth film has already been announced and on this form the series is set in the words of Mr Spock, ‘to live long and prosper’.


Green Room

Director: Jeremy Saulnier (2016)

Plastered with gob, guts, groupies and guns, a punk band are torn apart by more than creative differences in this excoriating neo nazi thriller.

Suitably nihilist in attitude and stripped back in construction, it’s a visceral mosh pit of strip lighting, stanley knifes, and shotguns.

The Ain’t Rights are a penniless four piece band who have run out of money and luck. So they accept a gig in a nightclub in rural Portland where the clientele is described as boot and braces. The decor is confederate flags and swastikas.

When the band witness a crime they barricade themselves inside the Green Room backstage hospitality area, a grim concrete box with only one exit.

Pat is the band’s reluctant spokesman who’s played with nervous energy by Anton Yelchin, best known as Chekov from Star Trek (2009).

He attempts to negotiate with Darcy, the owner of the club while waiting for the police to arrive. Fellow Star Trek alumnus Patrick Stewart brings gravitas to his role and projects a majestic menace while whispering assurances from behind a locked door.

It’s noticeable how well he and another Brit Imogen Poots under play their lines to great effect. She plays Amber, a bystander caught up in events.

This is a welcome return to form for an engaging talent who has made some recent poor choices in Need For Speed (2014) and A Long Way Down (2014).

A smart script makes the characters endearing enough for us to root for them and peppers the dialogue with comic pop culture references.

Discussion about expenditure and fire hazards ground the events in the real world and hints at a critique of capitalism exploiting political foot soldiers for its own ends.

The band want out and Darcy wants them dead. The music and mayhem are turned up to 11.