Star Trek Beyond is flying into theaters this year, just in time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise. The property began in 1966 with Star Trek: The Original Series (as it's now known): a TV show created by Gene Roddenberry and starring the now-icons William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, and Nichelle Nichols (among others) as the members of the starship USS Enterprise's crew. Younger versions of the Enterprise's Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto), among others, debuted on the big screen in 2009 with Star Trek, a reboot of the series that takes place in an alternate version of the Original Series' timeline.
Beyond takes place in the rebooted Star Trek continuity a couple years into the Enterprise's famous five-year mission to explore new worlds and uncharted territory across the galaxy. With the members of the Enterprise's crew already in need of a break and struggling to figure out what's next for them, Kirk and his family then find themselves under attack - literally, as they wind up being stranded on an alien planet by the forces of an anti-Federation figure known as Krall (Idris Elba). It's thus up to the Enterprise's crew to not only stay alive, but also prove to themselves (and the rest of the galaxy) that the Federation - and all that it stands for - is worth protecting.
The Star Trek Beyond storyline - written by Simon Pegg (who costars in the film as Scotty) and Doug Jung - has clear parallels to the film itself, in the sense that Beyond aims to both honor Star Trek tradition and pave the way for the series to continue on for many years to come. Paramount Pictures' current marketing push for the film, which now includes the release of two Empire Magazine covers (featured below), has likewise played up the idea that the movie has the flashy action and impressive set pieces of the first two Star Trek films in the rebooted continuity (both directed by J.J. Abrams) - but at the same time, includes more old-school Star Trek philosophizing than either Star Trek (2009) or its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness.
Featured alongside Pine and Quinto on the second-above Star Trek Beyond-themed Empire cover (which has shades of the retro-style Beyond posters that were previously released by Paramount), is the alien Jaylah, as played by Sofia Boutella of Kingsman: The Secret Service fame. Although Jaylah's motivation in Beyond remains somewhat unknown for the time being, it has been confirmed through the film's trailers and TV spots that she assists the Enterprise crew after their ship is destroyed by Krall's forces. Boutella described the character as follows during an interview with SFX magazine for its June 22nd, 2016 issue (hat tip to Trek Magazine):
“Jaylah is a survivor, and she is someone who thinks outside of the box. She’s an alien warrior, but her look is relatable to humans; her alien appearance in the film is not extreme. She has more in common with Kirk than anyone else in the film; they’re both very independent, and they’re both very honest and direct in their approach. She makes her own weapons.”
You can check out both a recently-released Jaylah poster and promo image for Star Trek Beyond, below:
Star Trek Beyond is directed by Fast & Furious franchise alum Justin Lin: a longtime Star Trek fan whose appreciation for the franchise and its rich mythology has now been praised by many a person connected to the film. Although cast members such as Pine has indicated that Beyond won't be a "cerebral" sci-fi movie in the way that, say, Star Trek: The Motion Picture aspired to be (when it hit theaters in 1979), it nonetheless appears that Lin and his collaborators are, in fact, attempting to deliver a blockbuster that features both brains and shiny spectacle, with Beyond. If Lin and his crew are successful in that respect, then their Star Trek feature ought to make a fitting tribute to the franchise's legacy - and pave the way for a bright future, in the process.
Unfortunately, no matter how Star Trek Beyond is received, there will be a bittersweet lining to the movie, following the tragic death of costar Anton Yelchin (who played Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek continuity). Various Star Trek cast members both past and present have already paid their respects to the late actor in public, but Star Trek Beyond will no doubt include some sort of salute or dedication of its own to Yelchin when it hits theaters next month.
Star Trek Beyond opens in U.S. theaters on July 22nd, 2016.