Star Trek Beyond is coming soon, and Simon Pegg has been quick to assure us that yes, he and director Justin Lin will be incorporating elements from the TV shows and returning to the spirit of The Original Series. This comes as music to the ears of many fans: the Star Trek movies have been pretty divisive among Trekkies after the reset to the canon, and a markedly different style to the shows.
The movies are glossy and action based, with characterisations that vary from emulations of the TOS characters to complete opposite personalities eg: Pavel Chekov. Don't get me wrong, I love both Chekovs equally, but while TOS Pavel is grumpy and insistent that everything was invented in Russia, the new films feature a cheerful and bright eyed Chekov who doesn't really have anything in common with his TOS counterpart.
But Star Trek 3 seems set to strike a balance between the feel of the shows and the style of the new movies, as Simon Pegg has promised to incorporate elements of the shows into Beyond. So what can we expect from the new film?
The Final Frontier
One crucial element of TOS that will be in Star Trek 3: Beyond is clearly the Five Year Mission.
For a story revolving around space exploration, the 2009's Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness sure did hang around Earth a lot. Well, that's all in the past now: Simon Pegg confirmed that yes, this film will be based on the Five Year Mission, and Justin Lin expanded on what this means for the characters.
"They haven’t really gone on their five-year mission, so what we experienced in the TV show hasn’t been touched on yet. There's still a lot to be mined from these characters, and the mission sets up an opportunity for exploration and the deeper you go, the more you are examining humanity. Those are the things that I absorbed as a kid and hope to tap into and embrace and celebrate. "
This really is fantastic news for the film: Star Trek at its best was a story of the crews coming together in a situation where they're cut off from Earth. Facing dire situations and the loneliness of space together, the crews went from professional colleagues, to friends, to family. So far J.J. Abrams' films have mostly focused on the relationship between Kirk and Spock, so it'll be nice to see some other characters get time in the spotlight, and Lin's remarks do seem to set up a decent amount of character development.
And this development also heralds another aspect of the shows that Star Trek 3 will emulate: the intelligence and philosophy that made Star Trek great.
Challenging Our Ideas
Simon Pegg has had a lot to say about Hollywood recently: after criticising the culture of spoilerism, he bemoaned the "dumbing down of cinema". His ideals can only benefit Star Trek though, as Gene Roddenberry always intended the story to be a philosophy within itself, an optimistic prediction of what the human race could achieve if it only took "special delight in different ideas and different lifeforms". According to Pegg, these ideas will be continued in Star Trek Beyond.
"It's going to be spectacular, but we're going to underpin that with some genuine 50th Anniversary ideas about what's happening in our world and the Star Trek world and try to make it a bit thoughtful too."
Again, this bodes well for Trek, as some of the best episodes of the shows revolved around tricky ethical conundrums that challenged the crew to re-examine the boundaries of their moralities. I could cite a dozen episodes in which this happens, but my personal favourites have to be The Next Generation's "Homeward" (examining the limits of the Prime Directive) and Deep Space 9's "In The Pale Moonlight" (which asks if one person's death is worth turning the tide of war).
But it's not all going to be thought experiments and philosophy! There's one more crucial element that Star Trek Beyond will incorporate, and one that is at the heart of each of the TV shows...
Spirit of Adventure!
Star Trek has always been half fun adventure, and half thoughtful philosophising. It poses the difficult questions that only scifi can explore fully, while also promising enjoyable antics from the crew. It's a tough dichotomy to maintain and truthfully, Trek hasn't always succeeded. The new movies have definitely leaned more towards the action adventure side of the story, though Abrams was semi-successful in trying to add in some grittier conspiracy elements in Into Darkness. I say semi-successful, because the film really did feel too gloomy at times, but Simon Pegg is ready to inject that spirit of fun right back into the franchise!
"We just want to take it forward with the spirit of the TV show. It’s a story about frontierism and adventure and optimism and fun, and that’s where we want to take it, you know."
Huzzah! There's plenty of campy and silly moments from The Original Series that Star Trek Beyond can emulate: ridiculous bar fights, Mirrorverse shenanigans, and of course, dance parties...
So let's see some of this fun in Star Trek 3! Of course there are plenty of other elements we'd like Pegg and Lin to include, such as...
- Female characters who aren't sexualised or a love interest (and we just might get that!)
- People staying dead for more than 5 minutes.
- Diplomatic relations with other species.
- Getting out of the human-centric point of view and challenging utopian ideals.
But so far Star Trek 3 is shaping up to be an excellent addition to the franchise, and we can't wait to see how Pegg and Lin continue the story!