Hard as it is to believe our beloved Star Trek has officially entered its golden years. All this year, the franchise is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first foray into the final frontier. Despite the fact that the series has been boldly going for half a century now, Star Trek, and its legion of spinoffs, continues to spark the imaginations of the loyal, becoming a beacon of hope for a better world, a light that shines on the best of all that humanity is capable of achieving.
While Trekkies the world over wait with baited breath for the premiere of a brand new, honest to god, Trek TV series, which is set to premiere next year, the centerpiece of this year’s celebration is the release of the latest movie, Star Trek Beyond. Set in the divisive alternate universe established by J.J. Abrams in Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, the new film reunites Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, and Zoe Saldana in a story that has been touted as being more akin to the kind of Trek we first fell in love with while at the same time pushing the boundaries of what Trek ever was.
While Paramount has been coy about the specifics of the film’s plot, fans got a small taste of what to expect in a new interview. Star and co-writer Pegg recently spoke with Empire about Star Trek Beyond, giving tiny morsels of insight into the new, Justin Lin directed entry into the franchise. Pegg, who co-write along with Dark Blue creator Doug Jung, offered details on both the plot and the overall themes which push the narrative forward.
The actor said Beyond takes place two years into the Enterprise crew’s famous five-year mission, and the experience has taken an emotional toll on everyone involved. While they disembark for some much needed shore leave aboard a Federation outpost, the ship is attacked by the alien Krall (Idris Elba), who’s become upset by the increased presence of the Federation and who disagrees with their central ideals. The idea, according to Pegg, is to examine the very nature of the Federation.
“What’s the point of it all? We’re gathering a great community within the galaxy, but to what end? What does it all mean?”
This idea was further backed by Lin, who called the new movie a deconstruction of Star Trek and its underlying philosophies.
“This is the 50th anniversary. I felt like it was important to really deconstruct the idea of Star Trek, the idea of the Federation and why it’s special. We’ll really be poking at a lot of different things.”
But does Star Trek really need a "deconstruction"? While looking at old properties from new angles is never necessarily a bad idea, and has often resulted in interesting takes on the familiar, many hardcore Trekkies have felt burned by Star Trek Beyond’s immediate forebears. Under Abrams’ guide, the Star Trek we originally knew and loved became just another sci-fi action movie bearing the Trek name, according to a number of hardcore fans. Beyond has a lot to do if it wants to win over the jaded - and some Trekkies may wonder if the rebooted universe is even worth it at this point.
Still, Pegg is a hardcore Trekkie himself. His long and well-established love for the Trek universe gives him an understanding of the underlying mechanics of the universe that Abrams did not have. You can scoff at the choice of Lin - best known for his work on the Fast & Furious franchise - all you want, but a story by Pegg lends a bit of legitimacy to the project, and may prove to be the key element that was missing from both Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. The actor/writer has stated numerous times that Beyond will return philosophical depth to the series, and even went as far as to criticize the first Beyond trailer for failing to detail the substance the film has to offer.
The plot itself sounds interesting enough, and the fact that it isn’t offering a mere retread of old stories proves that Paramount has learned from the mistakes of the last movie. Whether or not the film actually does justice the legacy that inspired is still, at this point, up in the air. But maybe there’s still hope. After all, if we’ve learned nothing from spending the last 50 years glued helplessly to the stories of the Federation, we’ve at least learned that hope is never so far from reach that it’s worth losing all together.
Star Trek Beyond hits U.S. theaters on July 22nd, 2016.