The third Star Trek reboot movie is about to hit the big screen. But wait, is it Star Trek as we know it? The crew is stranded on an alien planet. And there’s a new breed of villain, a kicka** female warrior, a new director, a motorcycle jump, a script fans helped to write, and Star Trek’s first openly gay character. And there’s not a Klingon or Gorn to be seen. But don’t worry, the usual gang is still there: Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, Zachary Quinto is Spock, and Zoe Saldana sizzles as Uhura. Plus, we’ve still got “Bones” (Karl Urban) and Sulu (John Cho). Sadly, it will be the final appearance of Anton Yelchin as Chekov.
Star Trek fans know that the production company lets out information in a dribble that increases as we get closer and closer to the release date. What we do know: in the beginning, it’s bad. Halfway through their five-year mission and in deep space, the USS Enterprise is nearly destroyed and the crew crash and land on an alien world. There are 50 aliens, as a matter of fact. No working ship, and stranded on an alien world; what will they do? Number one: Survive. Number two: Get the heck out of dodge and back home. Enter nasty Krall and alien warrior Jaylah. There’s lots and lots of action, a few laughs, and stunning special effects. Some said 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness looked backwards to 1982’s Star Trek Wrath of Khan. This latest installment is most definitely looking forward. Here are 15 things you didn’t know about Star Trek Beyond.
15. Sulu Comes Out Of The Closet
Actor John Cho has confirmed in an interview in Australia with The Herald Sun that Hikaru Sulu, the helmsmen for the USS Enterprise, is going to be openly gay in the film. Reportedly, it’s introduced subtly with a simple scene of Sulu with his same-sex partner and a baby daughter. A nice family scene says it all. It was written into the film as a homage to George Takei, who was the original Sulu back in the 60s and came out in 2005. “I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations,” Cho told The Herald Sun. As William Shatner’s Captain Kirk said in the 60s TV show opening, “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” Well, no Star Trek has gone there before.
14. Meet The New Kid On The Block: Director Justin Lin
Taiwanese Lin’s standing in the middle of a happy Fast and Furious 6 cast. They’re happy because Lin is good at making large ensemble, ethnically diverse casts look good. Okay. It may be his first sci-fi film, but the guy’s films have grossed $2 billion worldwide. He’s done the Fast and Furious franchise and TV’s True Detective. Some say his action film background has beefed up the action scenes in the movie. Take that motorcycle jump for example. He’s better than good. And at 43-years old, he’s a new generation of Star Trek directors, as he is the first Star Trek director to have been born after the premier of the TV show in 1966. Forbes has said that with his ability to direct large ensemble casts and the total success of just about anything he’s been involved in, he’s a perfect fit to take the franchise to the next galaxy and beyond.
13. The Trailer Hints At Trouble Ahead For The Federation
Is the Federation in real trouble? Maybe. The trailer has a lot of action, some dark moments of doubt for Kirk, some killer special effects, a lizard-like villain, a motorcycle jump by Kirk, and a martial arts female warrior. Both the villain (Krall, played by Idris Elba) and the alien warrior Jaylah (Sophie Boutella), get a lot of attention in the trailer. And there’s just a tiny hint of humor there that mirrors the banter in the 1960s TV show. In an unprecedented move, J.J. Abrams (who has directed and continues to produce) and new director Jonathan Lin, hosted a huge fan event at the Paramount California Studios in May of 2016, where a 10-minute (10 whole minutes) trailer was shown. It was the longest excerpt from the movie that’s been released so far. It’s clear that Star Trek is heading off to a new galaxy. Will fans follow?
12. Krall: A New Kind Of Star Trek Villain
Enter a very new kind of Star Trek villain. Meet well respected English actor Idris Elba. Krall, we think, looks like a cross between the devil and a lizard. And with the lack of information coming out, at one point it was uncertain that it was Elba in there. He’s rumored to be in contention to replace Daniel Craig as the next James Bond. Even his Star Trek Beyond co-star Zoe Saldana, says he’s perfect for 007, calling him one of the sexiest men alive. What do we know about Krall? A few things that director Justin Lin and Elba have said give us a few clues about why Krall is a different kind of Star Trek villain. It seems we will have a blurring of the original idea that the Federation is good and its opponents bad. Krall is a predator who loathes the Federation and at one point, he promises (threatens?): “This is where the Frontier pushes back.” This is a new, edgy direction for the franchise. We predict more of Krall in the future.
11. Scotty Re-Writes The Script And Star Trek Fans Help
According to About Entertainment, Simon Pegg (Scotty) was called in to re-write the original Star Trek Beyond script. Apparently the first script was “too Star-Trekkie”. Is that a bad thing? Don’t be surprised he was called in. The English actor/writer/ comedian has some 23 screenplays to his name. But with 50 years of Star Trek TV show and movie history to keep up with, he and co-writer Doug Jung, needed help with the detail. Pegg told Comingsoon.net that he turned to Memory Alpha, a “free Star Trek reference database” with over 40,000 articles that have been written by fans. He was a very enthusiastic fan of the site, saying: “We had the entirety of ‘Star Trek’ history at our disposal and it’s always there online.” If he wanted to know things, like what kind of weapons an NX vessel uses, Memory Alpha had the answer. He enthused, “It’s beautiful. It’s fantastic to have that support network.” Live long and prosper, Memory Alpha.
10. The Tragic Death Of Anton Yelchin
The cast was stunned and shocked. Russian-born Yelchin, who owned Chekov, was only 27 and a rising star in the entertainment world when he was killed outside his Los Angeles home on June 19, 2016, when he was struck by his Jeep after leaving it in neutral on a hill. Yelchin’s parents, who were successful figure skaters, moved the family to America where they established themselves as coaches in the field. Yelchin joked he was lousy on skates and wondered what he would do with himself. Then he discovered acting. He was Charlie Brewster in 2011’s Fright Night. And since 2009, he has been Chekov. His signature was his distinctive hoarse voice and those wonderful green eyes. When he started as Chekov, he was all of 21 and looked fresh faced. His death leaves fans and the cast wondering what is next for Star Trek.
9. Happy 50th Birthday Star Trek
The 8th of September of 2016 marks Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary. September 8, 1966, saw the airing on CBS Television of the first ever Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry’s creation ran for a mere three years, which is staggering considering how influential it has been. Known as the “Original Series”, it has become iconic and led to a franchise whose box office is just short of $2 billion. There have been five other TV series, plus 13 feature films over the last 50 years. The U.S. Post Office is putting out an anniversary stamp. And the Star Trek people are putting on one heck of a party at Comic-Con San Diego in July. William Shatner will be there, together with a whole host of Star Trek alums. And CBS has promised a new TV Star Trek in 2017. Here’s to 50 more years.
8. The Alien Count Is Huge
So how does 50 years of Star Trek impact Star Trek Beyond? To begin with, there are 50 aliens in the film, one for each year. And director Justin Lin has said the anniversary was special to the making of the film because it was a watershed, a chance to rethink the direction of the franchise, and wait for it, probably a good time to “deconstruct”. That has to mean a reinterpretation of where things are going, we think. There’s a lot to take in. We have a new villain, a fearsome alien female warrior, the boys (and girls) stranded on a planet. And we have Star Trek’s first openly gay character. But the idea of questioning the “goodness” of the Federation that is part of Krall’s brief has not thrilled some Trekkies. Careful, Justin. You and the aliens may be having a great time, but you don’t want to make that lot mad.
7. Hello Bada** Jaylah
Jaylah is an alien warrior who was stranded on the planet where the crew crash land. She is fierce, a martial arts wonder, and apparently comes to the aid of Kirk and the crew. She is played by Algerian actress Sofia Boutella, who some say stole the show in Kingsman: The Secret Service. As part of her preparation for Kingsman, she learned martial arts. Boutella started as a dance for Madonna, so the dance-like grace of her battling Jaylah character is a wonder to watch. Jaylah and those fight scenes have figured prominently in the movie’s trailers. J.J. Abrams has said he wants to add more prominent female leads to the franchise. Like Krall, expect to see more of Jaylah. But what’s she doing in the Captain’s chair?
6. Goodbye Spock?
Zachary Quinto has loved being Spock. And while IMDb lists him as part of the cast for the next film in the franchise (Star Trek 14), he has said that he is ready to move on and get involved in new projects. Reportedly, he was contracted for the trilogy (ending with Star Trek Beyond ) and has reportedly signed on for the next film. But after that? Paired with Zoe Saldana’s Uhuru, his loss, after the death of Anton Yelchin, might spell big trouble for the franchise. Saldana has said she doesn’t want the pair broken up. Neither do fans. Sometimes when actors say they are ready to move on, it’s an invitation to offer them more money. He’s already set to return to TV as a Bio-Hacker in Biopunk. Trust us, he looks nothing like Spock in real life. Maybe he just wants to get the real him out there.
5. Bring On Rihanna And “Sledgehammer”
The lyrics from the song are very telling: “Yeah, I hit a wall, I prayed that I would make it through, make it through.” See, in this movie Captain Kirk has a crisis of sorts; about his dad and how his dad was meant to be Captain Kirk. But what about me he says? Cue Rihanna and “Sledgehammer”. There were even plans to have William Shatner do a cameo (as a ghost?), but that didn’t happen. Of course, Rihanna is a Star Trek fan, having been introduced to it by her father. The song “Sledgehammer” is spot on as far as Star Trek Beyond is concerned. Now, if they could have just figured out a way to get Rihanna into the storyline, that would have been awesome.
4. Goodbye California, Hello Canada
For the first time ever in Star Trek history, going back to the 1960s, this film is not being shot in California. Why you ask? Well, costs are part of it. Reportedly, the Canadian authorities offered some sweeteners. Plus, the new TV show announced by CBS is also being shot north of the border. Sets were built in Montreal and some outdoor footage was shot in the wilderness north of Montreal. Canadian Trekkies went nuts, posting selfies with the cast and maps of the wilderness shoots. There has been a tendency for longstanding franchises to cut costs by moving out of the Hollywood area. There will be a special screening for the Canadian fans. Cast and crew seemed happy enough with the change.
3. A Few Laughs
Back in the original 1960s TV show, there was often comic banter centering on Captain Kirk. William Shatner is a naturally funny man and his exchanges with Spock and Scotty, in particular, could certainly be laugh out loud funny. Reportedly, that approach is being revived in Star Trek Beyond. In one scene, Bones and Spock stand back to back ready to fight the bad guys. It looks bad. Bones says: “Well at least I won’t die alone.” Spock is teleported away. Poof. Gone. Bones sees he is gone and utters: “Well that’s just typical”. Then when Kirk is painfully teleported particle by particle, he groans and says: “Let’s not do that again.” In the midst of all the action and special effects, it’s a nice touch.
2. The Hip Hop Duo And The Make Up Marathon
Sofia Boutella is a hip hop and street dancer extraordinaire. That’s how she got her start. She was also the face (and feet) of Nike in ads and has danced for the likes of Madonna. Idris Elba acts. He is an actor’s actor. But he’s also a talented musician, having appeared in rappers’ Giggs and Fat-Joe videos. And he performed on the introduction and co-produced Jay-Z’s album American Gangster. While Boutella’s dance background is obvious in her twirling, kicking martial arts scenes, we didn’t see any hint of hip hop or rap in Elba’s Krall. He does channel that bad in your face rapper vibe. But they’ve both commented on the hours and hours of time they spent in make up. Elba has said his days began around 4 a.m.
1. So, What About The Future?
There’s a lot going on. Justin Lin has boldly taken the franchise where no one has, to date, gone. There are a lot of changes, new characters, more action, and a hint that the likes of Krall will take on the Federation big time. And Sulu has come out of the closet. The main question is; will fans like the new direction? Trekkies tend to be purist that hark back to the glory days of the original TV show and early films. Maybe J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin are aiming to win a new fanbase. Plus, there’s the loss of Anton Yelchin’s Chekov to contend with. After three films, his face and characterization of Chekov are firmly fixed in fans’ minds. Plus CBS has announced a new Star Trek television series, beginning in 2017. So will the film franchise go on and on? Maybe. Maybe not.