It's no secret that the Star Trek movies have had a rocky reception of late, which is mostly thanks to the critical flop of Star Trek: Into Darkness. And after losing both JJ Abrams and Roberto Orci, it seemed as though Beyond was heading in the same direction. But with Simon Pegg at the writing helm, and confessed Trekkie Justin Lin directing, the future is bright for Beyond.
The latest news has only raised our hopes for the film, with Pegg talking about how he researched the movie with help from fans, and teasing Idris Elba's viciously villainous motivations.
From what we know of Star Trek: Beyond's plot, the story will challenge our preconceptions of the Federation as the Enterprise crew encounter their most terrifying foe yet. Because out in the final frontier, Starfleet's mission starts to blur the lines between exploration and colonialisation...
Redefining The Federation
When Gene Roddenberry first set out to create Star Trek, he was influenced by socialist humanist ideas. He wanted to explore a bright future for humanity, one where we've moved beyond notions of money and possessions, to pursue our destiny among the stars. This was a really beautiful idea, one which continues to inspire people across generations.
But how do we apply these ideals to modern cinema? According to Pegg and Lin, the best way is to view the Federation through alien eyes. And that alien is the film's villain, Krall.
Speaking to Empire, Pegg explained how Krall's opposition to Federation philosophy and policy doesn't just spark off all the action in the film, he also causes the Enterprise crew to question their mission: what the point is, and why the Federation is gathering such a great community.
“I felt like it was important to really deconstruct the idea of Star Trek, the idea of the Federation and why it’s special. We’ll really be poking at a lot of different things.”
All of this commentary harkens back to another part of the Trek franchise. But instead of riffing off the TOS films, as JJ Abrams did, Beyond already has a lot in common with the show Deep Space Nine.
Striking Out From Earth
This show, set between The Next Generation and Voyager, also challenged the Federation's philosophy through external viewpoints.
The setting allowed the writers to take a more distant look at Starfleet, as Deep Space Nine itself is a space station far away from Earth. And the crew of NCC-1701 find themselves in a very similar position in Beyond.
"They’ve come to rest at a Federation outpost, a sort of diplomatic hub."
While the previous two films in this continuity mainly stuck around the crew's home planet, Beyond seems set to show us the scope of the Federation. This is fantastic, as some of Trek's best stories have run with the idea of space exploration, as well as diplomatic missions between different communities.
But as exciting as seeking out new life is, it seems that the Federation has made a serious misstep, or so believes Beyond's villain, Krall.
A Villainous Vendetta
While speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Idris Elba hinted that his character has a serious grudge against the Federation. And although he's the villain of the piece, Elba believes Krall's motivations are somewhat understandable.
"Krall’s a character who’s deeply steeped in hatred — in my opinion, a well-earned hatred — for the Federation. It felt quite political. There’s a relatability to what’s happening in our world. Not everybody’s happy with what everybody calls the good guys."
While the Federation is a beacon of hope for our future, that doesn't mean it's flawless.
In Trek's history there have been plenty of civilisations who have resented being sought out by Starfleet, and Krall clearly falls into this category.
"There’s definitely an opposing argument to the good that the Federation think they do. There are purists that believe in independence, and believe that we’re all made differently for a reason, and will fight tooth and nail to defend that. There’s massive relatability to modern world politics in that sense."
Pegg and Lin seem set to break the Federation down to build it back up again, and it will be interesting to see how much we as an audience end up sympathising with Beyond's villain. And honestly, what's more quintessentially Trek than challenging our preconceptions?