Tony Black breaks down the second trailer for Star Trek Beyond…
To say the first trailer for Star Trek Beyond went down like a led balloon would be a Hindenberg-sized understatement. An outcry from Star Trek fans billowed out of a Beastie Boys-laden blast of action which seemed to appeal much more in the direction of director Justin Lin’s Fast & Furious fandom than the Trek faithful themselves, and even writer/co-star Simon Pegg subtly voiced his own displeasure. I’ve written at length about my scepticism for the 50th anniversary big screen Trek outing, and the third for the recast Captain James T. Kirk and his crew, but the second trailer released this weekend has already done a fair bit of good in assuaging the fears of Trek fans worried the bombastic, plotless lessons of Star Trek Into Darkness may have not been learned.
With its release date on rapid approach to starboard in July, let’s break down the brand new, critically-praised second trailer and see if we can’t piece together where Star Trek Beyond may boldly be going…
We open on science fiction’s most iconic spacecraft: the USS Enterprise, sailing through the stars, on approach to what could either be Earth or a very Earth-like planet, set to Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) talking about his reasons for joining Starfleet. We’ll get more into that later. First, the trailer seems to indicate Beyond may be pulling both a Search for Spock and Generations, and destroying Kirk’s ship. We see footage from the first Star Trek of the Enterprise under construction, then rushing through the cosmos amidst a cool new warp speed effect, one resembling space as a fluidic miasma the ship is cutting across. The peace doesn’t last long however; a veritable swarm of alien vessels descend on the Enterprise and slice her apart, allowing for the unknown alien antagonists to man and board her, chopping down all the crew they can find. As Kirk calls for the ship to be abandoned, we see the coup de grace – the swarm blast their way through the forward nacelle, the engine nerve centre of the ship – with that gone, the rest has no chance.
Destroying the Enterprise, as I say, is nothing new in the Star Trek movie series, and on the past two occasions have delivered two of the finest spectacles in the entire series. For Beyond to give this away pretty much in this (and the previous) trailer, suggests not just a confidence but that perhaps the Enterprise getting taken out is only the beginning of the story…
It seems, appropriately, that the character-centric onus will be more on Kirk than Spock this time around, given the trailer front loads his own angst at his position in charge from the get go. He talks about how his reasons for joining Starfleet were much less heroic and proud as his late father, wracked it seems with more self-doubt than we’ve seen before; perhaps facing down Khan and almost dying quelled some of the hubris that led to his recklessness in both previous movies. Kirk here is a little more seasoned, more measured, and it takes ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban) to remind him of his psychology – he became a Starfleet Captain to live up to the father he never knew, but it’s meant he’s never become his *own* man, and that seems to be a key factor in Kirk’s arc this time around. We hear Shohreh Aghdashloo’s Starfleet official seemingly giving Kirk sage advice too about command, and given it looks a whole lot like Kirk is going to excitedly launch his five year mission, only to lose his ship and see his crew captured, suggests it’ll be Kirk who must overcome his self-doubt to save those closest to him.
All signs suggest indeed that once the crew abandon ship, Kirk becomes separated from them and teams up with possibly Scotty (Simon Pegg) and a rogue, alien ally played by arse-kicking Sofia Boutella (though she appears to be a different species to the villains, and also previously unseen), to save them and possibly prevent a much bigger threat to the Federation. It looks like he also attracts the close attention of the villain of the piece along the way…
Let’s be honest, most Star Trek films are only as good as their villain. Khan, Chang, the Borg Queen, that err… Alien Probe thing that would only speak to whales. Following in the villainous star name footsteps of Eric Bana & Benedict Cumberbatch most recently before him, Idris Elba–unrecognisable under heavy make up–is on chief bad guy duties this time around as Krall… which is about as much as I can tell you about him, and this trailer to its credit holds back on giving us too much in the way of who he is. What we can infer is that he’s the military commander of an heretofore unseen alien race in the Trek universe, who do not take kindly to Kirk’s five year mission and encroachment on their space. He seems to become fascinated by Kirk, seen studying his personnel file and upon capturing the evacuated Enterprise crew, responds to Uhura’s (Zoe Saldana) promise their Captain will come for them by claiming he’s “counting on it”. Seems Krall is very much up for a ruck, and indications suggest perhaps he turns his attentions later on the Federation – do the Enterprise crew inadvertently do something to warrant a massive alien attack on their ship, and indeed a potential counter-attack on Earth? Or is Krall simply a massive xenophobe who punishes the Enterprise for being in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Whatever the answer, he seems like a genuinely fearsome villain with a ruthlessness and brawn that may put him more in the sphere of Trek movie villains like Christopher Lloyd’s Kruge, who was a proper nasty bastard if you recall. He also seems to hail from a technologically advanced species, advanced enough that they can cut through the shielded Enterprise like a knife through butter. Maybe they should have stayed in spacedock a while longer…
THE FIVE YEAR MISSION
Which brings us to another point: in one scene with Kirk, McCoy and Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones comments “you want to go *back* out there”. Now do we take that to mean he’s questioning Kirk’s desire to explore in the wake of Into Darkness, or have the crew been into their ‘five year mission’ in deep space for a while, indeed have they even completed that mission? There is precedent for this in The Original Series, as The Motion Picture saw the crew having moved on long after completing their mission, so could this be taking a cue from that? Is that why Kirk feels a little jaded? And will it turn out that his desire to get back out into space, where as Aghdashloo claims “it’s easy to get lost”, be their undoing? Whatever the case, encountering Krall certainly leads the Enterprise crew into exploring new worlds and civilisations, if not in quite the way they might have wanted.
The main bulk of the picture looks to strand the crew on an alien planet with a rich and diverse eco-system, where they possibly become worker slaves for Krall’s alien race. While Scotty is hanging onto cliffs and getting into scrapes, and Uhura appears to be desperately worried for someone, Spock begins questioning the nature of fear in a classic Spock beat of introspection it’s nice to see included. Though while they may end up stranded and enslaved, it looks an awful lot like unless they band together and find a way off, Earth itself may be next in the cross hairs.
On the whole, while potentially giving a little too much away when it comes to the narrative, the second trailer for Star Trek Beyond gives a lot more hope that we may yet see not just a loud, thunderous action picture, but a Trek movie with a little more depth behind the adventure. It still seems to lack that awe and scope that previous films had, at least from this trailer anyhow, but chalk this one up as much more exciting than we may have expected.
What did you make of the trailer? Let us know in the comments below!
Tony Black is a freelance film/TV writer & podcaster & would love you to follow him on Twitter.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/197064794″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=fale” width=”100%” height=”150″ iframe=”true” /]