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Review: Flawed plot fails to fire latest Star Trek journey beyond the stars

Star Trek Beyond (12A, 122 mins)

By Damon Smith

Published 22/07/2016

Star wars: Zoe Saldana (Uhura) and John Cho (Sulu) face another battle
Star wars: Zoe Saldana (Uhura) and John Cho (Sulu) face another battle

The heroine is a precocious orphan called Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), who is snatched from her bed at the witching hour by a hooded 24ft tall figure.

The behemoth spirits the girl over verdant valleys and crashing seas to the rolling landscapes of Giant Country. "No such place," Sophie defiantly informs her host, who introduces himself as the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance).

The BFG wouldn't normally kidnap a chiddler, but he explains that he was fearful Sophie might cause a great rumpledumpus by yodelling the news that she had seen a giant. A tender and deeply touching friendship is forged between Sophie and her kind-hearted abductor, who exists on a diet of disgusterous snozzcumbers and is bullied by filthsome fellow giants including Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement), Bloodbottler (Bill Hader), Maidmasher (Olafur Darri Olafsson) and Manhugger (Adam Godley).

In order to rid Giant Country of these man-gobblers, Sophie hatches a hare-brained scheme to visit the Queen (Penelope Wilton) at Buckingham Palace. The BFG joins her on this madcap quest, and his presence smacks the gobs of the assembled staff including the Queen's dutiful maid Mary (Rebecca Hall) and head butler Mr Tibbs (Rafe Spall).

Directed with verve by Spielberg, The BFG is a visually arresting ride that gently tugs heartstrings in between rollicking set pieces.

Captain James T Kirk (Chris Pine) is considering relinquishing the bridge because "things have started to feel a little... episodic".

He keeps his plans secret from the rest of the crew including human-Vulcan science officer Spock (Zachary Quinto), communications officer Uhura (Zoe Saldana), navigator Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin), chief engineer Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg) and helmsman Sulu (John Cho). During a visit to a Federation starbase under the control of Commodore Paris (Shohreh Aghdashloo), an alien called Kalara (Lydia Wilson) issues a distress call to help recover her ship, which has crash-landed on a planet in a distant nebula.

Kirk and the team respond and subsequently come under attack from an otherworldly despot called Krall (Idris Elba) and his swarming drones.

While the Enterprise crew forges an alliance with feisty alien warrior Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), Kirk holds firm to his moral compass, defiantly informing Krall that it's "better to die saving lives than to live taking them".

Star Trek Beyond dodges the curse of misfiring odd-numbered films in the series, but the flaws are obvious. Pine, Quinto and co are solid in roles that lack dramatic meat and don't progress the characters over two hours, and a flimsy, contrived plot resolves potential conflict with minimum blood, sweat and tears.

Three stars

Belfast Telegraph

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