Sunday, 31 July 2016

Some Kind of New Starship

Seen Star Trek Beyond? Bet those last few minutes left you wanting another look - well here Chris Groves takes a closer glance at NCC-1701-A

Any Star Trek fan (that has not been marooned on Ceti Alpha V) will be aware of the controversy surrounding the design of the Enterprise in the Kelvin timeline movies.

In 2009 JJ Abrams introduced us to a Beautiful ship but one that was (in mass terms) some FIVE times larger than the ship we had become accustomed to in The Original Series, The Animated Series and the original cast movies Star Trek I-VI.

The USS Enterprise was always supposed to be around the 300 meter long mark, (Gene presented, after all this was an ‘Alternate’ timeline and therefore historical rules would be different. Roddenberry himself demanded that the ship be more or less exactly 1000 feet) but we accepted (to a degree) the behemoth of a vessel that nu-

Then in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, JJ summarily had the ship destroyed in the battle with the even more gigantic USS Vengeance (Least said about THAT ship the better) so here we are in 2016 and most of us by now have seen Star Trek Beyond.

A brand new Enterprise is introduced, sleeker lines, leaner nacelles and thinner saucer section, but STILL stupendously huge (most of the size it seems being made up of unexplained massive empty spaces where crew often go flying around in terror when the ship is attacked?)

Of course we needn’t worry about this ship anyway, since within 40 minutes of the new movie’s running time, it too is destroyed utterly beyond repair (see what I did there).

But there is hope… the end of the movie we witness the construction of the USS Enterprise-A, and from the limited screen time and reveals there is hope that this new, new Enterprise is smaller and more akin to the classic ship we all love so dearly.

(Spoilers Ahead)

As the crew (and Jaylah) look on, we see a wonderfully filmed ‘Time-lapse’ effect of the new vessel being constructed at Starbase Yorktown. In fact there's a note right at the beginning of the film that the only ship more advanced than the Enterprise is being constructed at the massive station - this has to be that vessel.

The first thing that is noticeable is that on the main engineering section there are fewer and more tightly contained decks, approximately 9-10 decks (almost exactly correct to the prime Enterprise design) which is a lot less than the original JJ version.

Looking to the saucer, the underside module at the centre seems a lot more prominent and well lit but aside from that there's not a great deal different in these first images. What does blare out at you is the size of the registry on the underside of the hull. It's big. really, really big.

Then there is the gap between the neck of the ship and the forward deflector array, again it is fitted back so that the deflector protrudes but the fit is much more in alignment with the movie deflector of the Constitution refit with a much smaller amount of secondary hull extending forward from the neck. That similarity to the Prime line even goes down to the panels carrying the Starfleet pennant along the sides of the hull which extend forward beyond the hull curve to the edges of the deflector.

Also in this section we see a classic forward twin torpedo launcher and the design matches the same type we saw in the Prime ship (see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan for example –lots of close ups of these launchers). It's a larger unit but still has that curve around the neck which combines both universe designs. 

Above the neck there is a curious yet wonderful looking huge triangular join section (where the saucer section will be fitted presumably). What is exciting about this is that is resembles the cobra battle head of the Enterprise-D from The Next Generation; a nod to a more well designed saucer separation functionality in this new Constitution class and maybe a "learning" from the experience at Altamid. Does this mean that the new "A" is more military than the one it succeeds?

Around that, the neck isn't a lot different to the JJ/Beyond design, remaining very narrow but much broader front to back than that of the Prime universe alternative.

There are many features like this that imply that not only is the new ship smaller and closer to prime universe commonality, but that it has also been designed to be tougher, more capable and clever in conception than the previous vessels.  Just look at the underside of the engineering hull for example. While the saucer is virtually the same, the bottom of the secondary hull has a much more pronounced curve that starts more towards the front of that section than its apparently larger predecessor. That style is very similar to the "later" Ambassador Class and to a degree the Excelsior Class than Constitution.

As for engines, the impulse block to the back of the saucer is markedly smaller than the JJ original which could be a direct indicator that the ship is indeed smaller than the original. The nacelles are substantial, and they are angled out further from front view than before, they still have curves, but not to the degree of the reboot ships.

A particular design change I personally love there are the thicker, almost more armoured nacelle bases, with flare out joins that make them see far stronger than before - you can see some of the developments that, again, might have been added following the Swarm attack in Beyond.Take a good look there too because those pylons seem to attach to the nacelles right behind the bussard collectors. Is there much of the secondary hull that isn't attached to these new pylons?

In fact at the pylon tops there's a glorious ‘cranked arrow’ effect with a broad wing-like addition that almost adds a aircraft like suggestion. We don't get a brilliant look at those nacelles however but comparing them to the JJ-original, they do seem a lot less complicated, more streamlined and more "tubular" if you will however the collectors still emanate that blue hue rather than the red from The Original Series or The Next Generation for instance.

As I said earlier, the pictures are not perfect and the scene was all of 30 seconds, but this new USS Enterprise could be third time lucky and may indeed be a classic starship we can really BELIEVE in.

Note the cobra head and torpedo tubes

Looking on - the A under construction at Yorktown
What do you think to the update and the new "A"?

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Saturday, 30 July 2016

The Podcast Episode Five

Episode five of the podcast has gone live this week and here's your link to listen to it NOW!

Significantly longer than usual, it's been a massive week for the franchise so Clive and Tiff discuss:

We also welcomed producer/editor/director Robert Meyer Burnett to the podcast to chat about his extensive career in the film industry, Free Enterprise and, of course, Axanar.

Have a listen, please rate the 'cast and let us know what you'd like to hear in the future!

You can also catch up with this time's podcast episode by listening to us on Stitcher or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by searching for "Some Kind of Star Trek"!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Mack Prepares Best Defense

With his new book, the second in the Legacies series, out TODAY, Ian caught up with novelist David Mack!

"The story of Best Defense (Legacies 2) picks up several weeks after the cliffhanger ending of [Greg Cox's] Captain to Captain." explained David.

"It’s a very different kind of book from the trilogy’s first volume. Whereas book one was split between a story on Captain Kirk’s starship Enterprise during the five-year mission and a flashback story set on Captain Robert April’s spaceship Enterprise, Best Defense juxtaposes a fast-paced political thriller with a strange journey through a surreal alternate universe.

"My hope is that the action and revelations that drive Best Defense to a tense, exciting finish will prepare readers for the riveting conclusion of book three, Purgatory’s Key, by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore."

As one of two trilogies out during the 50th anniversary (the other being Prey), I wondered if there was any added pressure seeing as this was such a key year in the history of the franchise. 

"A little bit." answered Mack, "The four of us writing these books were well aware that The Original Series’ fiftieth anniversary, combined with the release of the new feature film, would intensify the degree of public scrutiny on all aspects of the Star Trek universe and all its officially licensed products. With that in mind, however, it didn’t feel much different from writing any other Star Trek novel, if only because we all strive to write the best stories we can every time we sit down to work for Star Trek. (Our editors expect nothing less, after all.)"

As a trilogy being written by four different authors - Greg Cox, Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore and Mack himself, it wasn't going to be a straightforward project since everything has to run smoothly between the three books; "If there was one significant challenge on the Legacies project, it’s that any time one splits up the volumes of a trilogy with a single story line between multiple authors, it makes it more difficult to track small details of continuity. 

"It took a lot of e-mails and phone calls among the four of us to make sure that the descriptions of places, alien species, devices, etc., remained consistent across all three parts of the story."

Mack continued that the difficulties persisted "...even beyond the writing of the three manuscripts, well into the copy editing and revision phases. Every time one of us needed to change something for whatever reason, we had to coordinate with the others to make certain any references to those elements were fixed as needed in one another’s books. Fun stuff, let me tell you."

So what can readers expect from the latest piece of David Mack's work in the Star Trek universe? What will they be getting out of Best Defense?

"Hours of enjoyment. With minimal eye strain, I hope.|" joked David, "More seriously, I think that what readers can expect from the Legacies trilogy overall, and from each individual book within it, is an adventure that feels true to the spirit and style of the original Star Trek television series."

As noted, David Mack has previously collaborated with Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore on various projects, including the Seekers and Vanguard literary series. Greg Cox was a new addition to the formula but, as David explained, only when it came to Star Trek as they had worked together before.

"Our long history of collaboration [Ward and Dilmore] did make it easier to tackle this project as a team. At the very least, it made the whole effort feel more familiar and comfortable. After more than a decade of working together, we’ve all developed an easy rapport and a helpful literary shorthand that makes a project like this possible.

"It also helps that, in many ways, the Star Trek books program has, since roughly 2001, been run in a manner similar to that of a television series’ writers’ room, with the editors acting as showrunners, coordinating the efforts of the individual authors to make certain we’re all working from the same premises and proceeding toward the same narrative goals, while respecting one another’s continuity details.

"As far as the effect that Greg’s involvement had on the dynamic, the four of us meshed without any trouble. It helped that we four all had worked on the tie-in novels for The 4400. Greg wrote the first of those four novels; Dayton and Kevin wrote the second book; Greg wrote the third; and then I wrote the final volume. Greg had coordinated with Dayton and Kevin regarding details between the first two books, and then Greg and I crafted a two-part story for the last two books. So the four of us had already learned to coordinate our writing efforts across multiple volumes. In that respect, the Legacies trilogy was kind of like “getting the band back together.”

For those who have been following David Mack's input into the Star Trek literary universe you may well have stormed through The Fall, Book 3: A Ceremony of Losses; Star Trek Seekers #3 – Long Shot; and the Bashir-focused Section 31: Disavowed. While these cover more than a couple of generations of Star Trek shows, I wondered if there was a particular aspect that was easier to write for than any of the others?

"Writing for each of the many literary incarnations of Star Trek brings its own challenges and its own rewards. There are generally fewer restrictions on changes to the status quo of literary-original series, such as Vanguard or Seekers, and for someone like me—a person who loves wreaking havoc on poor unsuspecting characters and dropping narrative bombshells that leave my fellow authors picking up story debris in my wake for years afterward—that can be a lot of fun. However, there’s a lot to be said for the joy that I take in writing well-known, beloved characters and being able to contribute my own ideas to series that I love and respect."

Fans may - or may not realise that David Mack also has a link to televised Star Trek, co-writing two strong episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with Starship Down and It’s Only a Paper Moon, as well as the Star Trek comic-book miniseries Divided We Fall for Wildstorm. Is this something that the well-revered franchise novelist want to return to?

"I really couldn’t say; I’m a freelance writer, not a fortune-teller." continued David, "I certainly would love to get a shot at writing for television and feature films, or even just see some of my published work get adapted into those mediums.

"With regard to comic books, back in 2010 I scripted the eight-issue Farscape: Scorpius miniseries for BOOM! Studios, based on story outlines by Farscape creator Rockne S. O’Bannon. More recently, I’ve pitched some ideas to the folks behind the Star Trek comics at IDW Publishing. They seemed to dig a few of my ideas. So far nothing has come of those talks, but I remain hopeful that I might soon get another shot at writing a Star Trek comic-book story.

While these are certainly possibilities David Mack would love to explore, 2016 and 2017 are already looking like they're booked up (or as near to)! 

"I’ve just finished writing the manuscript for Star Trek: Section 31 – Control. That’s currently scheduled for publication at the end of April 2017.

"My current top priority is revising the manuscript for my original novel Dark Arts: The Midnight Front. It’s the first book of a new series I’m writing for Tor Books. It won’t get a publication date until after I finish the rewrite and get that approved by my editor. Consequently, I’m feeling motivated to work quickly and give it my full attention for the rest of the summer.

After that’s done, I’ll get to work on the manuscript for Fortune of War, a new Star Trek Titan novel that I think will likely hit bookstore shelves at the end of 2017 or in early 2018.

Beyond that, in 2017 I hope to complete a first draft of The Iron Codex (book two of the Dark Arts series), and perhaps get some more original short fiction out into the world.

As the saying goes, there’s no rest for the wicked!

Big thanks to David Mack for taking his time to talk to Ian and we wish him all the best for the future - can't wait to read some of those upcoming books!

All images from

You can follow David by checking out his social media links -

Twitter: @DavidAlanMack

Monday, 25 July 2016

Klingon Confrontations: Manifest Destiny

When Manifest Destiny was announced there was some surprise amongst Star Trek comic fans as this spot had previously been occupied by the Countdown series leading into the movies.

Ian Kimmins returns to take us into the latest graphic novel as Beyond hits cinemas...

As a fan of both of the Countdown series plus the Nero and Khan comics I wondered if we would get any clues here in relation to Star Trek Beyond. So be prepared for SPOILERS.

As this series kicks off we get to see the Klingons conquering a planet in the name of the empire. However when Commander Sho'tokh orders all the children killed we realise these aren't just regular Klingons. 

As the Commander kills one of his subordinates for questioning him, we switch to the Enterprise where McCoy and Scotty are in the middle of assisting with a birth. As we then switch to the bridge we realise McCoy is telling the story of the birth and here we see some great interaction between Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty which harks back to The Original Series

We get to see Sulu take command of an away team once more. The writers receive great credit for this in my opinion as they seem to have made a conscious decision in the comics to have Sulu in command regularly. Maybe someday we will see an Excelsior/Sulu reboot spin off?

As the away team realises it's a trap, they try to contact the Enterprise but there is no response as they are occupied with a Klingon ship which has just decloaked .

As both the away team and ship are under attack it's looking bad for the crew and things take a turn for the worse when McCoy gets separated from the rest of the away team. As he manages to take down the Klingon away team after him in a way only McCoy could - the Enterprise is fairing worse - a lot worse. 

As issue two kicks off the Klingons boarding the Enterprise and as Kirk and Spock lead security teams, Chekov is left on the bridge to try to contact the away team on the surface. 

The away team is being over run and the Enterprise is being over run by Klingons and as Kirk orders the bridge to be evacuated it looks like all is lost. 

The Klingon away team has a proposal for our heroes to help the them kill their captain and in turn they will be freed. As the away team considers this, the Klingons finally take control of the Enterprise bridge. As Kirk and the crew regroup in Engineering they realise these Klingons are mercenaries and will stop at nothing in the name of conquest. 

As the crew aboard the Enterprise make their stand, the Klingon away team have returned to their ship with their Starfleet counterparts. As they plot the downfall of their captain, he is meanwhile onboard the Enterprise and has captured Kirk. 

As we launch into the final issue the Klingon captain explains that his crew are all outcasts. With the Enterprise's crew now in the brig it looks like all is lost however Spock had evaded capture and manages to free some of the crew including Kirk. As Scotty initialises a warp core breach the Klingons decide they have had enough and abandon the Enterprise

However Kirk gets to the shuttle before they leave and stuns all the remaining Klingons except his counterpart. Kirk overcomes the Klingon in hand to hand combat to retake his ship. 

As Scotty gets the ship up and running again, Kirk realises what has happened to the away team and that there is now a new Captain in charge-they exchange the away team for the Klingon Captain and promptly leave the area as more Klingon ships arrive.

This story ends with the crew having to deal with the deaths of some of their comrades and realise they have become more than a crew-they are a family. 

Great credit goes to Mike Johnston and Ryan Parrot who wrote this story. They are both longtime writers for the IDW run and it shows that they have such a great handle on the characters. Angel Hernandez has again got the look of the Kelvin timeline spot on with his artwork. Special mention must go to the tribute movie covers that were done for this series (see The Motion Picture one above) As the Kelvin Timeline's continuing missions are being wound down lets hope we get to see these great talents take on some more Star Trek

As I touched on earlier this story was a replacement for the usual Countdown "movie-intro" story. From the Beyond trailers we do get to see a slightly more weary Kirk who's feeling the pressure of being the captain of the flagship and that's seemingly carried over here as we see that losing some crew here, including recurring characters such as Lt Kai, has an effect on him. Remember in Into Darkness that Kirk told Pike he'd not lost a crewmember since taking charge of the flagship.

So while this isn't an official story related to the movie as the Countdown ones were, it does help set the mood and is one of the best stories that we have seen so far.

Read it!!!!!

Star Trek Manifest Destiny is available in all good comic book stores or in graphic novel form from the usual outlets. 

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Sunday, 24 July 2016

Flight of Discovery

At about 11pm UK time the nail biting wait to find out the title of the upcoming Star Trek TV series was over.

Star Trek: Discovery was officially subtitled at the very end of the Star Trek panel at San Diego Comic Con.  Not only did we learn the name of the show but also that it will take place in the Prime Universe with each season as a novel and each episode as a chapter. 

Series producer Bryan Fuller had been hosting the Star Trek panel which included cast from all series - William Shatner, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Jeri Ryan and Scott Bakula with seemingly the whole of fandom waiting for him to drop some series nuggets at a packed event.

As for when in the timeline Discovery will take place we still don't know exactly but surely the registry of NCC-1031 is a clue that it'll be pre-The Original Series? But then it could be that the ship is dropped through time and the show is post-Voyager as one comment on Twitter postulated. I loved one online suggestion that there could be potential to get Federation President Jonathan Archer to christen the new ship and therefore provide a solid link to the franchise's past. God bless the internet and its theories. One theory I'd like to chuck in here is that the registry they're using here could be a red herring and just there to throw us off the scent - we know this isn't the final finished and polished article! 1031 could be the time it was decided this would be the design to be used, it could even be a covert way of telling us the first ep will be aired on the 31st January. 

Fuller also gave attendees the first look at the new ship which he noted is very apt given the nature of Star Trek - the mission to seek out new life and new civilisations and to go boldy.

Discovery is a big name if you take a second to look back and one very much associated with space flight in respect to 2001's spacecraft and also the US space shuttle which was swapped for the Enterprise at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. I seem to recall that one of the NX class in the expanded universe also carried the name.

Now what we do know is that the CG and in fact the ship itself are not 100% finalised (confirmed by Heather Kasdan after the Star Trek panel) but the homage to the unmade Planet of Titans from the 1970's and by proxy Ralph McQuarrie's designs are unmistakable. That's not a bad thing and remember that bits of those designs have turned up in Unification's ship graveyard and also hidden in plain sight in spacedock when the Enterprise arrived home in The Search for Spock - so they are definitely canon now?!

The sequence opens on an asteroid containing a spacedock containing the new starship, leading to our first glimpse of her. There is the familiar saucer/engineering hull/nacelles configuration and we even have red bussard collectors akin to the series rather than the blue of the reboot Enterprise. Note that the collectors are in a triple cluster rather than a single dome. The impulse engines sit to the rear of the secondary hull rather than the back of the saucer and contain four hexagonal "thrusters" which is distinctly different to the single units we've seen on previous ships.

Even the spacedock itself has echoes of the McQuarrie design with its blue circular portals as well as its internal structure. Even the paint tone on the ship reflects those images we're so familiar with but the deflector is a much more 24th Century blue than a 23rd Century gold. Anyone else feel that the trip out was similar to that taken by the refit Enterprise in The Motion Picture which was itself hat-tipped in Broken Bow, the Enterprise pilot.

Looking at the saucer of the Discovery the edge trim lines are similar to those on the reboot Enterprise and the ridged upper surface has hallmarks of the Franklin from the recent Beyond. The lettering also seems to be more reboot than The Original Series in its simple, unbordered nature. It's a feature that would have been a glaring error in judgement had they gone for something utterly radical. 

The bridge module doesn't have the single window we've seen in the Kelvin Timeline and instead there are visible ports around the edge.Taking this and the double deck around the saucer into consideration - and a bit of counting we're looking at around 10 to 12 decks for this new ship putting her twice the size of Archer's NX Class vessel and maybe half the size of the Constitution Class. Purely guesswork on that one from the pics!

There have to be recognisable elements and the saucer is unquestionably important. The saucer underside has the registry twinned on port and starboard a la the classic USS Enterprise which helps place the ship more firmly in the post-Enterprise pre-The Original Series timeframe. Also the central dome sits in a recessed section but still drops just below the plane to retain a rather familiar profile.

To the rear it seems that the McQuarrie shuttle bay still exists but has been shaved back and narrowed on that rear edge - a flatter shape than the curved rear we've seen on the Enterprise or Voyager for instance and a more industrial door style - might even be a cargo bay?

The design and the name of the series have already taken a pounding on social media (surprise) but I think it's a good choice to go for something that is so intrinsically linked to the franchise history and was sadly consigned to some big vault of lost ideas. See below for some more closeups on the new ship as she makes her way out of the dock for that first flight.

One other thing to note and something I stupidly missed but was redirected to by Captain Revo on Twitter who is always good to help get my brain thinking of the larger picture I might add (credit where due!!!) is the music behind this teaser. It's got an incredibly Klingon feel to it. Might the Discovery herself have certain Klingon traits in her design not dissimilar to a D7 (back end) or a Bird of Prey? (again credit to Captain Revo for his thoughts). It's certainly inspiring, driven and reminiscent of the score from The Undiscovered Country in particular (court scene). Is that a hint at a Klingon/Federation team up? Are we really looking at something half-finished that will take place post-Nemesis and the destruction of Romulus and therefore tie all the universes in together?

Set to debut on CBS All Access in the US and Netflix in 188 countries around the world, it was also announced on Friday that the pilot episode will be directed by David Semel. Semel's work includes production work on The Man in the High Castle, plus directorial duties on shows including Hannibal, American Horror Story, CSI and Heroes. Certainly has the credentials for the job and the links into the Kurtzman-verse.

The top boss at CBS, John Van Citters also got online to confirm that Discovery will be shortened to DSC as with TOS, TAS, TNG et al. That was most definitely in response to the wildfire speculation it would become STD. Chuckle.

Series overlord Bryan Fuller added in his address at Comic-Con that the show would "...celebrate a progression of our species.." which is much more in keeping with Roddenberry's original vision rather than the more action-orientated cinematic adventures of the last seven years. Later Heather Kasdan said that the show will importantly represent the LGBQT community both in front of and behind the camera.

The producers seem to be saying - and showing - all the right signals at the moment but we've still be have any cast announcements or see any set pictures. The shots of the Discovery are a nice payoff for the nine months we've been waiting since the first announcement in November last year but this is merely a fraction of the tip of a very, very big galactic iceberg.

McQuarrie space dock
Forward view of the blue deflector
McQuarrie Enterprise from the rear - note shuttlebay and "straight" rear edge

rear view - note shuttlebay and kinked rear edge in comparison to the McQuarrie design

Ridged saucer topside and registry

What are you thinking to the new announcements around Discovery?

All images of the new ship and logo from the CBS teaser trailer.

You can also check out the news so far by clicking on our new DSC link in the topics list!

NOW check out and subscribe to our monthly podcast. You can find us on iTunes, Soundcloud and Stitcher by searching "Some Kind of Star Trek".

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Friday, 22 July 2016

Beyond the Review

Three years ago I walked out of the cinema feeling a little deflated.


Star Trek Into Darkness had not delivered. It borrowed too much material, it tried to rewrite an almost untouchable area of Star Trek lore and just felt like a bit of a car crash. At least for fans it did because with an impressive box office return and decent reviews from the general movie-going public/critics it helped guarantee a third in the series. Help.

Star Trek Beyond therefore had a lot to balance. Keep the masses happy and try and regain trust and support from a fanbase that was hurt by a sloppy sequel and is brutally divided over the 2017 series and how fan films should be handled. And that's the easy part.

With a production schedule that was fraught with difficulties from day one including the removal of the original director (Robert Orci) and writing team (Orci and cronies) to be replaced with Justin Lin in the chair and Simon Pegg and Doug Jung on scribing duties, it was a race to get to the already announced and cemented release date of July 22nd 2016 - right at the heart of the summer and of the franchise's 50th anniversary.

Where to begin? Well, the start is usually a good place. As has been reported all over the shop, Beyond takes place well into the legendary five year mission of the good ship Enterprise. as Kirk ironically notes, life has become episodic, the crew have become a close community and life is perhaps becoming a little too average for his adventurous tendancies. Indeed, when Spock receives some overwhelming news even he is contemplating his future aboard the flagship.

If this was how the movie proceeded we'd have all fallen asleep by the hour mark but luckily things take a turn for the worst after the Enterprise is dispatched into a shady unknown nebula on a rescue mission that ends in the starship being swiss-cheesed and the crew marooned on the planet Altamid ruled over by the sinister Krall.

That initial space conflict lasts for a good while and must be the longest starship death sequence in Star Trek history and is simply amazing to watch. It's not an overawing piece of screen time but the way in which Krall's ships take her down is very believable and well realised on the screen. Why they actually needed to make the Enterprise look more vulnerable around the neck and nacelles I don't know given the power of his swarm vessels.

OK, I'm not going to nail the plot anymore than that and amazingly it takes a good half hour to get to that point. Beyond does a lot right. It's a much more classic style of Star Trek adventure with the crew dispatched to a planet to deal with an alien baddie and save the day. All it needed at one point was Kirk to outwit a computer and you'd have been right back in the mid-second season of The Original Series. The plot is fairly ABC without too much of the politics and twists that wound themselves around the throat of Into Darkness and is easy to follow from the opening beat to the closing credits. OK there are some character pieces in here - Kirk realising he's now older than his father was when he died and Spock wrestling with a turning point in his career but that's about it. This is a simple Enterprise crew versus the Big Bad with no frills or whistles.

As noted, Kirk and Spock are both handled well and given decent background material to work with. Their partnerships with Chekov and McCoy respectively are certainly highlights of the movie and seeing the doctor and the Vulcan get into a bit of verbal sparring harks nicely back to the characters we adore. Kirk and Chekov is much more action-packed with fire-fights galore hounding their progress to recover an artifact and avoid Krall's swarm troops.

Talking of Chekov there is a wonderful nod to actor Anton Yelchin early on plus a couple of nods to not just Leonard Nimoy and Spock but also to the original crew and in some respects these are real highlights of the movie and so beautifully done. None of them feel shoehorned in and work within the script rather than against it.

Scotty at least has more to do than worry about the engines exploding in Beyond once he's planetside with Jaylah and this odd pairing works really well on screen. Potential for her to return in the fourth movie given circumstances at the close? Absolutely and I can't see why she won't be signed up. 

Sulu and Uhura meanwhile are left to lead the remains of the Enterprise crew at Krall's prison camp. There's the expected escape attempt and eventual rescue but their characters have little more to do than that. The "outing" of Sulu isn't as brash as people are making out and is shown a couple of times but its more in passing and not at the expense of the movie. Uhura and Spock's relationship is however played down even though they're having troubles (again). I felt better that this took more of a backstep and that the Spock/McCoy team was built as a stronger element to the movie.

One oddment in here is Shoreh Agadashloo's Commodore Paris. Literally she has two scenes in the movie that were done as part of the reshoots. One to send the Enterprise out to the nebula and a second to welcome them back and help Kirk make his decision on his life path. They are essential motivators for the captain and the mission but whether these were scenes originally set for the fleetingly seen Commander Finnegan (Greg Grunberg) is possibly speculative. It's just weird how stand alone they are as she doesn't appear anywhere else and only with Kirk on both occasions. 

So to the aliens and firstly, Jaylah. With a classy intro in which she saves Scotty's life, Sofia Boutlella is a great addition to the movie bringing a deadly naivety to proceedings as she joins the crew in their mission to rescue the Enterprise survivors from Krall. Her background is simple and as the loner, Jaylah is the survivor who has learnt a few tricks to remain alive and one step ahead of Krall.

Which leads well to Idris Elba's main villain. With a superb arrival on the scene, Krall pounds his way through a few scenes seemingly with one purpose to create a weapon of mass destruction and obliterate the Federation. He rumbles threats at anyone who happens to be in a Starfleet uniform and it's only close to the end that we really understand what he's all about. Elba is buried under a lot of makeup but with one real direction he's not needing to give a lot to portray his end goal. Is he the best villain of the reboots? Probably is given that Nero sulked a lot and Khan wasn't Khan. At least he's giving it his all in the effort stakes. The final revelations however are a little flat but do mean we have the requisite fist-fight to tie everything up.

Solidly this is a movie with a very tight main cast consisting of the Enterprise regulars, Jaylah and Krall but the background characters with a few lines here and there are a bit of a mixed selection. Lydia Wilson's Kalara turns out to be a nice surprise while Krall's right hand man Manas - hyped as a hard b*****d gets his behind handed to him far too easily. Lin did say that there were scenes planned to explore the nature of Krall's soldiers but that never made it to screen and we're left wondering just who the heck they are under all the armour? Why are they fighting for him? What are they all about? It's actually just one of the few puzzlers that I was left with after my first viewing.

The other thing is....well...I just don't think it's justified with a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; 85% perhaps but not over 90. There's absolutely, unquestionably no doubt that this is a mile away from Into Darkness and most likely better than the 2009 starter but it will never be The Wrath of Khan for example. It's a steady movie that tells a straight line story and is packed with new aliens, exciting places and wonderous spaceships spinning through the cosmos - or the Yorktown in combat but it's still no where near the character heavy classic movies. However, given today's movie audiences it's had to change but it's still not a sensory-overloading experience a la Independence Day yet it felt like there were a few times it could have just stepped up into another gear and really have shut up the critics. Character is still there but blended at a lesser level into the action sequences and maybe sacrificed for "what the audience wants" if you will. In fact at some points it did feel like we were moving from Krall set-piece to Kirk set-piece to Yorktown set piece for example. That's not a bad thing and I'm sure it will mean that more people enjoy it because it's playing on the success of the summer blockbusters it has to compete with plus the popularity of things such as The Avengers, Suicide Squad and the like.

One thing I am thankful for (and I saw this in 3D) was the utter lack of lens flare. Jeez does it make a difference to the movie. Well, at least it did after the first 20 minutes because it was dark. Not bottom of my soul dark but visually dark as though Scotty was operating the Enterprise on minimal reserve power. I thought Generations had the monopoly on poor lighting but seriously, the first bit of this film was almost unwatchable because it was so poorly lit.  I love a bit of atmosphere but I might have to ask for the Braille edition on DVD. It did get better and easier to see (my eyes just adjusting?) and some of the visuals are great especially the vistas through Yorktown. In 3D, they really jumped out.

The Franklin is a bit of a star too. Registry NX-326, the warp four starship literally saves the day and gives us some of the best visual sequences of the movie when she's powered up. In fact the motorcycle sequence is even pretty good and it just shows how a Beastie Boys soundtrack on a trailer can really skew your concept of a movie. It's a bit different, perhaps a little gimmicky but again works well within that section of Beyond. I would add that at times Lin's action sequences are a little too cut-and-burst chopping from one angle to another very quickly although the pacing does seem much more dynamic than in the first two reboots.

When I left the cinema, I was certainly more uplifted than I had been for Into Darkness because there were some wonderful moments, great homages and a couple of real blink-and-miss mentions that reveal Pegg and Jung have done their research and know where the timeline split. Beyond does a solid job of delivering the goods for the 50th anniversary. The characters are settled and solidly formed by the cast. It doesn't stray from a basic formula, the script keeps things on an even keel and stays safely out of trouble. It's not a rubbish film and a couple of scathing reviews are, I think a little too much but I wouldn't go to the other extreme and be begging to see it multiple times or waxing lyrical over how it's saved the franchise. It's a good film that proves this reboot is capable of something better and more fulfilling than Into Darkness and can be both action film and something that long time fans will enjoy watching. 

Two hours did just roll by as we moved briskly from one aspect of the movie to another. Having the team split into their partnerships certainly kept me engrossed but it was clear that some were treated to more development than others (see McCoy and Spock's interactions during their journey for example against any of the other combinations). While Into Darkness took a bit of time to kick in, this film starts off well and with a touch of unanticipated humour before sweeping through a range of emotions, flashes of action and bringing us to a majestic final scene that did actually cause my jaw to hang a little loose. 

Actually, sod it. I'd have to say those last five minutes are some of the best Star Trek moments we've had for ages. I wouldn't be surprised if we're talking about them for many years to come.

What did you make of Star Trek Beyond? Was it the blockbuster we needed it to be? Or was it the film we didn't want?

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