After 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness was criticized for leaning too heavily on fan service and references to previous Trek films, this summer's Star Trek Beyond is shaping up to be something different. This time around, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are in the midst of their five year journey through space, where they encounter a new adversary in Krall (Idris Elba). This villain could potentially be the most menacing threat Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his friends have faced yet, seeing that Krall vehemently opposes the ideals of the Federation and everything it stands for.
Not only does this sound like a refreshing change-of-pace after two largely Earth bound stories, the setup also allows director Justin Lin to place the characters in situations we haven't seen them in yet. Crashing and trying to survive on an alien planet is tough in it of itself, but being out in space for so long is sure to take a mental toll as well. According to stars Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana, who play Spock and Uhura, respectively, the Enterprise crew is going to be pushed in ways unlike anything else before.
Speaking with EW, Saldana offered her thoughts on the state of the crew collectively and how the adversity they find themselves in poses a tremendous challenge:
“We’re tired, we need time off, we’ve been working non-stop, and it’s become like a machine where you kind of forget about yourself, but you need to go back home and nurture yourself and rest. Life has a different journey for us, and instead of us having to go out and aid another population, another planet that has been the target of violence, we are the target, so this is very different. We are tested at the craziest level and not just our lives are tested, but our characters and our relationships are tested.”
It will be interesting to see how the relationships evolve over the course of Beyond. Based on the trailers, it seems as if once the Enterprise crashes, the characters are scattered across the planet and end up working in pairs to get back together. For instance, Spock is working with Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban), while Scotty (Simon Pegg) finds a new ally in the alien Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). Quinto told EW that the characters spend time with "unusual compatriots," which will most likely lead to fascinating dynamics and interactions. Fans know that Spock and Bones are opposites, but they find a new appreciation for each other as they persevere through the obstacles. The Enterprise crew already had great chemistry, but those friendships will possibly be stronger after Beyond.
Arguably, Spock will be going through the most in this third film. In his interview, Quinto addressed Spock's inner turmoil as he's torn between his "Starfleet obligations and Vulcan roots":
"[He is] in this existential moment in his life and at a crossroads between his obligation to his Starfleet and his Vulcan roots. His planet was destroyed and they’re rebuilding, and he’s trying to figure out where his energy is best directed to help other people. He comes into a new awareness of his own mortality for a number of reasons, and there’s a lot of stuff that he’s trying to figure out in this film. By the end, I think he realizes the best path for himself moving forward.”
The second trailer for Beyond hinted at an intriguing character arc for Kirk, but Spock will have plenty of rich material of his own. Throughout the rebooted series, the character has always been trying to balance the two sides of his life. This includes his ongoing romance with Uhura. Quinto mentioned that Spock is wondering if he should be with a Vulcan, and Uhura "recognizes" his doubts. The two "want each other to be happy, to be fulfilled, to serve their purpose, and to realize their potential." The actor obviously wouldn't elaborate further, but Spock and Uhura could be going through some serious changes as they look to discover the best path for them to follow.
With Lin at the helm, Beyond was always going to have exciting action set pieces, but these comments from Quinto and Saldana indicate that there will be a lot of substance to compliment the style. The movie promises to be a deconstruction of the classic sci-fi property and convey the best of the Original Series, so there are a variety of angles for the filmmakers to explore. As Paramount plans a Star Trek 4, they could very well have a winner that will reinvigorate enthusiasm audiences have for Star Trek.
Star Trek Beyond hits U.S. theaters July 22, 2016.