The third instalment knows that fun and excitement are all part of the Star Trek package
Midway into his five-year mission for the Federation, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is suffering from a serious case of space ennui and is thinking about jacking it all in. However, Kirk's long-term plans are put on hold when the Enterprise is sent to an uncharted nebula on a rescue mission, which turns into an ambush by an alien horde led by the fierce Krall (Idris Elba). With their ship destroyed and the crew scattered across an alien world, it looks like Kirk and chums have their work cut out if they want to stop Krall's nefarious plans.
With J.J. Abrams busy making Star Wars films, the keys to the Star Trek universe have been handed over to Justin Lin for this third entry. Despite the concerns of some die-hard Trekkies – Lin is known for his work on the non-sci-fi Fast & Furious series – he proves to be a comfortable fit and demonstrates a clear understanding of both the characters and the themes that underpin Gene Roddenberry's creation.
Lin is aided massively by a fun script (co-written by Doug Jung and Simon Pegg) that shifts the focus away from solely being about Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) and gives the likes of Bones (Karl Urban) and Chekov (the late Anton Yelchin) plenty to sink their teeth into. We also get a scene-stealing new female character added to the mix with scrappy, rap-loving alien Jaylah (Sofia Boutella).
As for the actual story, in many ways it feels like an episode of the old TV series, only pumped full of steroids and loaded with spectacular action scenes. While this may mean that Star Trek Beyond doesn't exactly 'boldly go where no man has gone before', it does what it sets out to do exceedingly well.
It's not only a lot more satisfying than Star Trek Into Darkness, it also ranks as one of the most enjoyable entries in the entire Trek canon.
Picture: The stereoscopic presentation of Star Trek Beyond beams into home cinemas with an arresting 2.40:1 Full HD encode, despite being converted in post rather than shot in native 3D.
Although negative parallax effects are thin on the ground, the sense of depth going back into the image is very impressive and entirely convincing. Movement across the different spatial layers within the picture is also seamless, with the alien drones attacking the Enterprise (Chapter 3) swarming all over the place with no technical issues.
Even the quieter moments still impress with more subtle volumetric effects, such as the curved consoles on the bridge of the Enterprise having a truly tactile, three-dimensional quality to them.
Of course, the trade-off for all of this is a drop in brightness, but even this isn't quite as noticeable as you might expect, while colour reproduction is also very strong. Generally, this is a quality stereoscopic conversion and well presented on Blu-ray.
The accompanying 'flat' 2.40:1 encode (which gets its own separate HD platter) is just as impressive from a technical point of view. Crisp, clean and packed with detail, it's very much what you'd want from a modern VFX-heavy tentpole movie. Blacks are gorgeously deep, and contrast levels are high, giving the varied colours on show plenty of impact. Again, there's not a trace of any pesky compression issues to be seen.
Picture rating: 5/5
Audio: Star Trek Beyond's Dolby Atmos soundtrack gives us another reason to cheer. Right from the opening scene, the height channels are employed to inspired effect, while sonic details whip through the surrounds and weighty LFE threatens to shake your framed Federation shirt off the wall.
We're sure that it'll come as no surprise that the boisterous set-piece sequences sound superb, but just as impressive are the smaller atmospheric details. The interior of the Enterprise, for example, feels like a living, breathing three-dimensional space, thanks to all manner of retro 'pings' and 'bloops' cropping up in the surrounds. The mix continually strives to deliver on ambience.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: Relegated to the set's 2D platter, Star Trek Beyond's extras offer an informative peak into the film's production.
Beyond the Darkness is a 10-minute overview of the development of the film. As the title indicates, Enterprise Takedown (five minutes) is devoted to the destruction of the iconic spaceship (an event that might be considered a spoiler if it didn't happen in practically every other Star Trek movie). Divided and Conquered (eight minutes) focuses on some of the unexpected character pairings in the script and how their abilities complement each other.
A Warped Sense of Revenge (five minutes) deals with new villain Krall, while Trekking in the Desert (three minutes) covers shooting in Dubai. Exploring Strange New Worlds (six minutes) looks at the work of production designer Tom Sanders, New Life, New Civilizations (eight minutes) studies the film's alien creations, and To Live Long and Prosper (eight minutes) explores the legacy of the franchise.
Finishing things off are a gag reel, two deleted scenes and a touching tribute to recently deceased Star Trek actors Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin.
Extras rating: 3.5/5
We say: Sci-fi fans should waste no time beaming this superb Blu-ray release into their disc collection.
Star Trek Beyond, Paramount/Universal Pictures, All-region BD, £28
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5
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