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New Partnerships And Old Relationships Will Be Tested

Stranded on this alien planet and split into unusual pairings, the USS Enterprise crew will be tested in new ways. The Spock/Kirk relationship was at the core of the first two films and even Simon Pegg felt the urge to push the franchise in a new direction.

“I felt like the Kirk/Spock thing, we’d done that now and, arguably, maybe too soon, in a way. There’s still a lot of time for those guys to become super-friends, and maybe we’ll do that further down the line if we do more. I felt like maybe now it was time to move away from this kind of bromance thing and concentrate on the idea of the crew as a kind of family living in a small space together and what it means to all of them. I really love the dynamic between Bones and Spock, so that’s something we’ve concentrated on a little bit with this one. Kirk’s older than his dad was now when he died, and all that kind of stuff that’s playing on him. Scotty’s still just Scotty.”

For director Justin Lin, the literal and thematic deconstruction of Star Trek led to putting “our characters at a point where they have to kind of work together.” And work together in ways we’ve never seen before on the big screen.

“It gives each character an arc and also relationships that I’ve always wanted to see them have.  It’s amazing, like 10 years of my childhood watching it, I thought, “God, can Chekov hang out with Kirk?” So I get to answer all those questions. You know, like Bones and Spock, like the two characters on Kirk’s shoulders. I’d love to see how they would interact if they were… So a lot of that came off the construct of kind of the impetus of what sets this journey off.”

Chris Pine says that this film “gives everybody a beautiful journey to go on and bring them back in the end in a great triumphant and team spirit way.” But for his character Kirk it’s still about dealing with living in the shadow of his father. At the beginning of the film Kirk is having a birthday which should be a time for celebration, but for him, it’s the same anniversary as the death of his father.

“It’s like all these archetypal films where it’s the young man dealing with the spirit of his father and how do you live up to the qualities that he showed so well. And for Kirk that’s a big deal and a lot of it is about that he’s not the young impetuous man of his twenties, he’s older and he’s captain of this ship, and how do you reinvent yourself and how do you find new meaning in something that you come to everyday.”

The Spock/Uhura relationship was only secondary to the Spock/Kirk friendship in the first two films, and Saldana tells us that we will see that evolve in new ways in Beyond.

“Every relationship in this movie will be tested on a very, very high scale. The great thing about this installment is that it’s not only Kirk and Spock and J.J.’s Spock and Uhura, his twist, it’s also Chekov and Scotty. It’s Sulu. So I’m really excited about this because now it’s an ensemble more than ever. Everybody’s relationship, all of their dynamics are tested. Spock and Uhura are going to be tested as well. To what extent? I don’t know. But I mean they made it in the show. They were old in the show. [laughs] What more can I say without giving it away?”… “They are in each other’s lives in a very passionate way. So you will see that. To what extent? I don’t know. But I think Spock is absolutely in love with Uhura. I think he’s crazy about her. And if Uhura is done with him, it’s going to kill him. [laughs] I’m joking. But he really loves me more than I do him.”

As for Bones, Karl Urban says that his beliefs will also be tested in this story:

“As a doctor, it’s his job to save life. He’s so compassionate about life. And in this film that core foundation of his belief is tested. It’s really, really interesting.” … “Doctor McCoy gets pushed into territory that he’s never been in before. Certainly not in these movies.”

And “one of the things” that he “really responded to in the script” was that Bones gets to develop a relationship with Spock:

“The crew gets fractured, and I end up spending quite a bit of time with Spock. We really developed that relationship; and experience things and events together that bring us close together, and allow for a deeper understanding. To me, that’s what makes this so interesting.”

star trek beyond: Washington

The Film Asks Big Philosophical Questions

The film shot under the production code name “Washington” and our on-set security badges featured a big “W.” as the logo. And sometimes these working production titles mean very little, but I have a feeling the Washington name is a reference to the philosophical question at the core of this film. Simon Pegg told us that this question drives the plot of the film.

“We liked the idea of, also, on the 50th anniversary, looking at Roddenberry’s vision and questioning it — you know, the whole notion of the Federation and whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, or how productive is inclusivity. What is the true cost of expansion, that kind of stuff. So we went in with some big, philosophical questions to ask.”

Director Justin Lin echoes Pegg’s sentiments:

“I feel like it’s important to maybe try to deconstruct why Federation, Starfleet, and why Star Trek is special. And, hopefully, at the end of it we reaffirm why it’s been around that long. And hopefully we can help keep it going.”

Star Trek Beyond Comic-Con

Star Trek Beyond Is Not An Adaptation Of a Previous Trek Story/Character

While this film continues the alternate timeline that JJ Abrams started with his 2009 film, Pegg found himself returning to the original series to get inspiration, not just for the story and tone but the characters:

Star Trek’s had to evolve in order to exist in the current marketplace. A film that was totally in the mood of the original series would not be made today or make money today, because people want event cinema. They want things to be a little more brash and action-oriented, so we’ve had to fold that into the Star Trek brand. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean that can’t be fundamentalized by all the tenants of what Star Trek is and how all of those characters have evolved over the years and to really give its DNA an authenticity. So that’s been a really interesting thing, and that’s something we really wanted to do. So Doug and I would always, at the end of a day’s — when we were really happy at the end of day’s writing, we’d sit and watch a couple of episodes of the original series — just for fun, not to get ideas. A couple of things like, it’s always good to get names from the original series, like dead Red Shirts. I have a list of dead Red Shirts on my phone somewhere, just so that those same people exist in the universe. But this is our universe. It belongs to us now. J.J. very cleverly was able to establish the story again without damaging or affecting what went before, and it’s ours now. Anything can happen. Anyone can die. It’s not the same events.”

Thats not to say there won’t be references to familiar things in this story, just don’t expect this film to adapt a previously told Trek story or character like Into Darkness did with Wrath Of Khan.

“There’ll be things in there for every Star Trek fan,” assures Pegg. “It is the same world, so some of the points of reference will be the same. But they are off in a part of the galaxy that they’ve never been before. They’re far away from the usual suspects, I think. As such, it’s not them meeting up with an old adversary or someone they’ve met before. And we toyed with that. You look at the great episodes and think, “Oh, why don’t we do ‘Mirror, Mirror’? Or why don’t we do ‘Arena’?” But, you know, that was Galaxy Quest, so that’s off the table.”

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Docking With A Space Station On The Edge Of Federation Space

We will encounter most of these new alien species very early in the film when the Enterprise docks at a space station on the very edge of Federation space. This space station was shot in Dubai using modern architecture in that region of the world. Simon Pegg described the station as follows:

“It’s a kind of diplomatic hub. It’s called Yorktown, and it’s right on the edge of Federation space, and it’s where all the most recent Federation inductees can come and mingle with each other and learn about each other. It’s a kind of lovely…”

We asked if its like Mos Eisley, which Pegg quickly snapped “No, no — that’s a wretched hive of scum and villainy! This is the opposite of that.”

“It’s basically a place where they can go, where they can better understand what being part of the Federation means. It’s an important kind of tactical establishment for the Federation. It’s been built locally, so it’s very interesting to look at, but it’s where the Enterprise docks up. For the first time in like 10 months, it’s had kind of proper contact with other people, and that’s where the story begins.”

Chris Pine describes Yorktown as “the pinnacle of the kind of utopian alien/human environment in that a lot of people are working together perfectly, a humming, thriving, confederation of different parts.”

“There’s always someone who’s trying to make sure that doesn’t exist and people that are trying to make sure that it does.”

Is he talking about Elba’s character? Pine quickly shuts down, “I can’t tell you that.”

Idris Elba star trek character krall

The Mystery Behind Idris Elba’s Character

As I said earlier, almost no one on set was willing to tell us much about Idris Elba’s character Krall. And while the trailers have revealed that he plays a alien that attacks the Enterprise for what we can only guess has to do with philosophical differences with the Federation, we don’t know much more than that. Co-star and co-writer Simon Pegg teases the dynamic that he brings to the film:

“Idris is doing some extraordinary work at the moment. Me and Doug and Justin sat down with him a few weeks ago in preparation for his scenes and really got to the bottom of who he is in this movie — and I can’t tell you that, because there’s a lot of complexity about him and stuff that’s mysterious about him, which I obviously want to maintain. But he’s just this very formidable, very powerful person, thing, that they encounter. It’s obvious to say he’s a match for Kirk, obviously, but there’s a dynamic between them that’s very interesting, and that will all become clear.”

Zoe Saldana describes her character’s dynamic with Krall as “a little hot” and “almost steamy.”

“It never gets there, thank God. But I’m happy that I have scenes that a lot of my character’s dynamic is going to be lived with Idris’s character, because…And I’ve worked with Idris on two separate occasions, on The Losers, and also on Takers, even thought my part was very small on Takers. So I love Idris dearly. I’m a huge fan of his work. So to see him in this movie, I’m so proud. And he’s so ugly to look at.”

Justin Lin says it was “very important” to him to give the Star Trek crew a strong antagonist.

“That’s why I feel very fortunate talking to Idris. I remember our first conversation. It was just so much fun talking about it, because I wanted the character to have a very specific and valid philosophy and point of view. And I wanted to create something that would challenge, and also in a very valid way, the philosophy of The Federation. And I think that’s what this character…My goal is to really have him do that. So far we’ve been having a lot of fun doing that.” … “It definitely is not a character you’ve seen before. For me it was important because this film would not exist without this character. And I feel like it was important when I had that first meeting, and once I decided what journey this film should take, it really was hinged off, again, this antagonist’s philosophy.”

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