star trek beyond trailer breakdown

The new trailer for Star Trek Beyond arrived late on Friday night, instantly washing the dreadful taste of the first trailer out of our mouths. Unlike the initial teaser, this footage looks like it comes from an actual Star Trek movie and you know what that means – there is a whole bunch of stuff to sift through if you go through the whole thing frame-by-frame and shot-by-shot.

Since we haven’t seen the movie, this post will contain all kinds of speculation and over-analysis, which means it could be loaded with potential spoilers. Just trek cautiously. And if you want additional reading, Peter Sciretta’s newly published set visit report sheds additional light on the film (and even directly answers and clarifies some of the observations below).

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There is no better way to open a Star Trek trailer than a shot of the USS Enterprise flying over the camera while en route to some kind of alien planet. Finally, one of these movies decides to leave the general vicinity of earth for once! We know that Star Trek Beyond will pick up a few years into the ship’s famous five-year mission, so we’ll be dealing with crew who have been exploring the galaxy for some time.

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Although director Justin Lin has made a few changes to how the crew and the Enterprise looks (we’ll dwell on the uniform modifications in a bit), he seems to be staying mostly true the aesthetic J.J. Abrams established in the first two movies. This Enterprise still has the whole “Apple Store” thing going on, but I’ve always been fond of this clean, sterile look. The future world seen in Trek is supposed to be composed and elegant and put-together…which makes it hurt all the more when it falls apart.

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“My dad joined Starfleet because he believed in it. I joined on a dare.” Star Trek did a fine job of introducing the friendship between Captain James T. Kirk and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy and Star Trek Into Darkness…well, it didn’t have time to dwell on things like “character interaction.” Seeing Kirk and Bones sharing a drink recalls some of these characters’ most famous interactions and serve as a reminder that Kirk is a member of a triumvirate. His friendship with Spock only makes sense because he’s also close with McCoy. We’re overdue for a scene where these two have a heart-to-heart.

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This shot of the Enterprise traveling through at warp speed, the space around it literally bending along with the laws of physics, is magnificent. The best thing you can say about this trailer, and for the original 2009 reboot, is that the aesthetics couldn’t be more different than that of Star Wars. Trek is very happy being its own thing, thank you very much.

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This is as good an opportunity as any to talk about the modified crew uniforms. They aren’t hugely different, but the subtle differences are many. Note the higher collar, which has replaced the deeper “v” of the neckline. The uniform of the material has also changed, which allows for a different texture. The heavier stitching right before the sleeves replaces the stitching that used to go across the shoulders. The result is a uniform that looks more like a coat than a form-fitting shirt. It’s a slightly more militaristic look.

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No modern science fiction movie is complete without a scene where characters gather around a holographic map of the galaxy. It’s not clear in the wide shot who is in this room, but we can use context clues to discern that someone (a member of the Enterprise crew, most likely) is visiting the head honcho of a Federation outpost (note the Starfleet and Federation logos in the foreground). We’ll talk more about this outpost in one moment.

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This moment actually. Here is the Enterprise, sliding into the space dock of some kind of station. You can make out some minor details the station itself in the background, but we’ll get a better look later in the trailer. In any case, the real treat is seeing the Enterprise actually docking in orbit like a proper starship – seeing it constructed on ground in the first film and seeing it casually enter a planet’s atmosphere (and even park underwater!) was enough to make a serious Trek nerd’s blood boil. This ship wasn’t built to leave space!

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J.J. Abrams may have vacated the captain’s seat, but his spirit lives on in the form of lens flares! To be fair, this is the only prominently featured lens flare in the entire trailer (and they never bothered me like they bothered so many other people), but you just know this is Justin Lin cheekily paying homage to the former director of these movies.

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A corridor illuminated by red emergency lights, complete with sparks falling from the ceiling. Yep, that’s a classic Trek scenario if I’ve ever seen one. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that come out of nowhere and activate the pleasure sensors of your brain.

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There’s a reason so many scientists and engineers have embraced Star Trek over the decades – this is a series that has often gone out of its way to showcase the nuts and bolts of how these ships work and operate. Even when it’s fantastical, there’s a blueprint floating around that offers some kind of explanation for how something works. You can get lost in the mechanics of this theoretical world. Which is my longwinded way of saying that I really enjoyed this brief show of a space dock arms unclasping from the Enterprise.

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