Star Trek Beyond has a lot riding on it. Now that Disney is finally poised to unleash its Star Wars barrage on audiences – something which promises to last for five consecutive years, at the least – and now that Fox has something of its own shared universe with its Alien and Prometheus films, Paramount needs a heavy-hitter to strike back with. Then there’s the little fact that 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, generally, and that Beyond looks to be the final installment of the rebooted film series, specifically – unless, of course, this entry performs well enough to extend the trilogy into a bonafide, open-ended franchise, like the previous Trek movies were.
Given all this, it shouldn’t be surprising that Beyond’s first trailer is light on story and heavy on tone, atmosphere, and spectacle. If one looks closely enough, however, he’ll notice that there are, indeed, some tantalizing clues as to what new director Justin Lin and new writer Simon Pegg have up their sleeves in terms of the plot and character moments.
Here, then, are our 10 Clues from the Star Trek: Beyond Trailer.
10 Action, action, and more action
Okay – while this doesn’t betray any specific plot point or character beat, it still is one of the most important indications the trailer could possibly give about the cinematic experience that Beyond is going to deliver to movie audiences next summer.
And, actually, that time period is crucial in understanding what messages Paramount is already sending us: with the likes of Captain America: Civil War, Bourne 5, and Suicide Squad all coming out between May and August of 2016, the studio wants audiences to believe this is going to be one of the biggest, rip-roaring-est action films there is. And with motorcycle stunts (yes, in Star Trek), martial arts sequences, crashing starships, and alien invasions all on-hand in the minute-and-a-half preview, it’ll be hard for viewers to not walk away with that impression.
The overwhelming focus on action also seems to back up the news from several months ago that the original draft of the screenplay was “too Star Trek-y,” and that Simon Pegg and Doug Jung were brought on-board to sex it up to the average movie-going audience as much as possible. Look for Beyond to have even more explosions, fisticuffs, and chase sequences than either of its two predecessors – probably combined.
9 “Star Trek: Fast and Furious”
Even in multi-installment (and multi-decade) franchises, having a different director results in a different focus, at the least, or a different feel, at the most (something which previous, television-continuity-heavy Star Trek films have been dramatically affected by - Star Trek: Nemesis, anyone?).
In this case, Justin Lin, who has made a name for himself by helming four out of the seven Fast & Furious movies, seems to be already making his stamp on the material: beyond the overriding emphasis on action, there are also hints of having a diversity in the cast, an irreverent sense of humor (arguably more so than the previous two entries, that is), and an emphasis on family, whether it be biological or adopted.
Just how incongruous a transition from the J.J. Abrams-headed movies Beyond will prove to be can only, of course, be answered by seeing the finished product, but there’s still plenty of potential for the different visions to co-exist without any overt discrepancy to the average viewer; it’s not like Abrams didn’t explore similar thematic ground in his two outings, after all.
8 Only one Captain Kirk
The whole premise of these rebooted Star Trek movies is, intriguingly enough, rooted in the original iteration of the franchise; Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy) travels from the present (that’s the 24th century, shortly after the television series The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, for all you playing along at home) back to a period before The Original Series begins. The changes in history that ensue cause a whole new timeline to form, making this trilogy of films a strange new hybrid of remake, sequel, and prequel.
Keeping “Spock Prime” in the proceedings was important to the filmmakers for the sequel, Star Trek into Darkness, and one would assume that continuing such an Original Series presence would be equally important to Lin. While Nimoy, sadly, is no longer able to reprise his role, given the fact that he passed away earlier this year, the original Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) would be the next logical choice – especially since he was nearly in the script for 2009’s Star Trek and that news has already broken of the actor being approached for Beyond.
7 Familiar Treking
With all this talk about how much action is being injected into the story – and given the little fact that Star Trek has, up until 2009, always prioritized exploration and philosophical musings over action set-pieces – it may be surprising to hear that Star Trek Beyond will actually cover the biggest amount of traditional Trek ground.
In terms of the plot, the third reboot finally sees the crew of the USS Enterprise arrive at where audiences saw them during the original television and film series, in their respective positions aboard the ship with their specific relationships intact and in the midst of a five-year mission to boldly go where no one has gone before.
There’s also enough time in the trailer, in between explosions and (literal) cliff-hanging, for one or two moments of “classic” material to shin through. Chief among these is the banter between Dr. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban) and Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) – it’s hard not to smile at the chemistry these two archetypes have together, even all these decades later – but there’s also one small telltale line of dialogue that Spock delivers to Captain Kirk (Chris Pine): “We will find hope in the impossible.”
6 New alien friends…
When up-and-coming action star Sofia Boutella was cast in Beyond, it turned quite a few heads and raised even more questions. Unfortunately, the trailer is short on specifics, but it still manages to address a lot of the young actress’s presence in the story.
First and foremost, it should come as no surprise that her primary focus is action: her unnamed character is seen swinging staffs, engaging in martial arts beat-downs, and, of course, leaping from platforms really high in the sky. Not only does this, obviously, keep the action quotient up, it also fills the super-fighter gap that Khan Noonien Singh (Benedict Cumberbatch) filled in Into Darkness.
And while it’s informative to learn that Boutella is a friend to Kirk and crew, helping them try to escape the planet they’re imprisoned on (more on this in just a moment), what’s the most telling about her role is in her only line of dialogue from the trailer: “I know why we’re here – why we’re all here.” This implies at least an importance in terms of exposition, filling in the backstory of the alien antagonists’ dastardly plan, but it could also very easily veer into the metaphysical plane: much like the Oracle from the Matrix trilogy or Maz Kanata from the imminent Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this new character may have access to the spiritual side, acting as a guiding light for our intrepid heroes in more ways than one.
5 …and baddies
Much as with Sofia Boutella, Idris Elba is given his first official reveal in Beyond, and, again as with Boutella, he’s a brand-new alien character.
What’s interesting about this is just how literal the “brand new” part of that sentence is. Whereas Star Trek and Into Darkness were predicated on tackling pre-existent villains and alien races both – the former focused on the Romulans, while the latter got both the Klingons and Khan – this new entry seems keen to steer clear of all franchise entanglements and instead offer a whole new set of enemies. This, in and of itself, may be highly informative: the previous group of filmmakers got into controversial territory by trying to obscure Khan’s involvement, and even the film’s narrative only fully worked when audiences were aware that Into Darkness was, essentially, a remake of 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (but with Kirk “dying” instead of Spock). Beyond may represent Paramount’s best effort yet at striking all-new material with its rebooted franchise.
4 The plot
All right – let’s get down to brass (narrative) tacks, shall we?
The basic skeleton of a plot seems to be evident among the trailer’s various high-octane money shots, and we believe it goes a little something like this: Idris Elba’s new alien species targets the Enterprise for some unknown reason, destroying it with a slew of drones and forcing its crew to land on the planet below. There, the villains corral the survivors into some type of prisoner-of-war camp, possibly even with the intent of enslaving them – which could be the exact fate that has befallen Sofia Boutella’s character (and, perhaps, more of her species, as well).
Given the general belief that the final parts of trilogies always have to top their predecessors in nearly every possible way – Return of the Jedi has a second Death Star, The Dark Knight Rises has the League of Shadows return and imprison Gotham City – it would seem that Justin Lin, Simon Pegg, and the rest of the crew are using every trick in the book to make Beyond as climatic possible.
And that doesn’t even mention the crux of the new aliens’ plan, which seems to be:
3 Earth is attacked
Strangely enough, for a sci-franchise that is predicated upon the exploration of deep space and exotic alien landscapes, the rebooted Star Trek has relied upon threats to Earth as the basis of its stories: in the 2009 film, the rogue Romulan Nero (Eric Bana) wants to destroy the whole planet, while in Into Darkness, Khan orchestrates a terrorist bombing on one of Starfleet’s main bases.
For Beyond, the villain’s approach is to launch a full-scale assault on the planet, as the snippets of a futuristic metropolis populated by dozens of humans (with many in Starfleet uniforms, providing our biggest tip-off yet) attest to. Given this, we can assume that the Enterprise crew’s incarceration is either to nullify one of Starfleet Command’s best layers of protection or to learn the intricacies of Earth’s defensive capabilities (why Captain Christopher Pike [Bruce Greenwood] was captured and tortured in the first film).
Given the perceived pressure to be the biggest part of the trilogy, here’s a wild guess as to the new aliens’ motivation: toppling the United Federation of Planets in order to replace it as the supreme interstellar power. Beat that, Khan.
2 The USS Enterprise-A
The destruction of the USS Enterprise will certainly make for a traumatic event, but it’s one that’s neither cataclysmic nor unprecedented. In fact, destroying the good ship Enterprise has become something of a tradition in the Star Trek movies: in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the original Enterprise was axed, while in Star Trek: Generations (that’s the first film to star the Next Generation cast), the Enterprise-D was unceremoniously crashed into the surface of a planet. In both cases, the replacement vessel was introduced in the subsequent movie, allowing the adventures of Captains Kirk and Picard (Patrick Stewart) to continue unabated – and should Beyond prove to be financially successful, there’s no doubt that the brand-new USS Enterprise-A will be introduced in Star Trek 4.
There’s also the possibility, given the way that Into Darkness ended, to have the new flagship actually introduced at the end of Beyond. It certainly marks a certain cycle – destroy the old ship, have the crew fight from a place outside of their comfort zone, and then have everyone recongregate together on the new vessel at the very end – and offers the same “rhyming” pattern that George Lucas popularized with Star Wars.
The latest trend in Hollywood regarding trilogies is to have the concluding chapter continuously call back to the opening one, creating rather hard-to-miss bookends. It may not necessarily be the most subtle narrative handiwork around, but it does drive the point home to audiences that they’re witnessing the end of the story. (A really good – and really recent – example is The Dark Knight Rises, which bent over backwards to cram as many references to Batman Begins as was humanly possible.)
It’s already obvious, after only 90 seconds of footage, that this is exactly what Justin Lin, Simon Pegg, and Doug Jung are up to. In fact, the trailer opens on one of these callbacks: the pumping of “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys through whatever temporary replacement ship Kirk and crew have managed to take over after the Enterprise’s destruction. When coupled with Kirk’s romp on his favorite motorcycle, one can only wonder how many more “thematic ties” will be weaved throughout the picture.
Excited for how Star Trek is continuing to evolve on the big screen? Curious as to whether other developments from the original television shows/films will get adapted? Share your insights in the comments below.