As the new year gets rolling, Star Trek will be turning 50 and celebrations for the science fiction staple are no doubt in the works. This year also marks the return of the reimagined Star Trek universe, with Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew continuing their 5 year mission in new, action-packed territory with Star Trek Beyond. Although William Shatner won’t be lending his weight to the new Trek epic, it still promises a lot of adventure and new danger for the crew of the Enterprise.
Star Trek’s golden anniversary will have some effect on Beyond though. Co-writer (and Montgomery “Scotty” Scott actor) Simon Pegg says the film won’t be “too Star Trek-y” – likely referring to the rehashed Kahn story from Star Trek: Into Darkness. The actor, writer and sci-fi fan also refers to his script (co-written with Doug Jung) as “a story about frontierism and adventure and optimism and fun.” Despite Paramount’s wishes for a mass-appeal Star Trek, director Justin Lin and his writers clearly sought to include some retro elements to the film.
On a recent visit to the set, (see videos) ET spoke with members of the cast about some of the throwbacks and updates to the second rebooted sequel. Although only given a brief glimpse of the bridge, the tour does stumble across a few interesting tidbits. For instance, Pine stands in front of the new armory, complete with what appear to be updated phaser rifles that sport a sleeker, ovoid design. Karl Urban (Leonard “Bones” McCoy) also describes the space-weary appearance of the ship: “On this one [the bridge], it looks like there’s been aging. We’re two years into the mission, so there’s wear and tear on the ship.”
Pine, Urban, and Zoe Saldana (Lieutenant Nyota Uhura) also discuss how the new film will pay homage to the past, especially in lieu of Leonard Nimoy's recent passing. Says Pine:
“He was a special special man... I think his spirit has infused in this incarnation from the beginning… from the first film. and we miss him dearly and wish he could be a part of this but, you know, we know he’s in a good place.”
And if the ship’s looking a little battered, the uniforms certainly aren’t. Urban sports the crew’s new threads, which appear to be an updated version of the '60s versions, complete with the classic Starfleet insignia on the left breast. In addition to the new attire, the Enterprise also has a new crew member – sort of. John Cho (Hikaru Sulu) reveals that taped to his operations console is a picture of his young child. Although it doesn’t sound like Sulu’s child will play a major role in the film, he does tease “there is another revelation that you’ll find out in regards to this baby, but you’ll have to wait to see the movie.”
For old school fans worried about the potentially un-Star Trek like nature of the film, the retro uniforms may come as some relief. A few tweaks to the phaser rifles shouldn’t spell disaster to the franchise, either. Even if Paramount is seeking something a little more cross-genre to pull new audiences into the franchise, Simon Pegg is a bottomless font of fandom (as his former sitcom, Spaced proved). Pine and his cast-mates have already given the nod to Pegg’s script, which may not quiet everyone’s nerves. Hopefully, we’ll see more of the classic Bones-Spock banter than the trailer showed, as well as an intriguing new villain in Krall (Idris Elba) to match wits with the Enterprise crew.
On the other hand, it takes more than retro uniform and a geeky screenwriter to make an engaging Star Trek film for the 21st Century. Not only are Pegg and Linn adapting an established classic with a very particular fan base, but they’re also releasing their film during the 50th anniversary of the series – without a sage cameo from recently departed Leonard Nimoy (Spock). No pressure. If nothing else, at least the crew will look good in their nostalgic garb.
Star Trek Beyond opens in U.S. theaters on July 22, 2016. The new Star Trek TV show will debut on CBS in January 2017.