Star Trek: Beyond has a lot to live up to — following 50 years of Trek legacy would be difficult enough, but Beyond also has to restore fan faith in the franchise after the critical flop of Into Darkness. It's also stuck in one of the worst Catch-22s in Hollywood, because while the Trekkies want intellect over action, big CGI action sequences is definitely the realm of current blockbuster scifi flicks. And yet, it seems as though writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin have managed to strike that balance perfectly in Beyond.
Finally out on their five-year-mission, the crew of the Enterprise find themselves marooned in Beyond, stranded on an alien planet, as in the plot summary of many an episode of the TV shows.
The crew are forced to work with an enigmatic alien, Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella. We might not know much about her yet but she seems to have some vital information about Idris Elba's villainous Krall, who has captured the majority of the Enterprise's crew and later attacks Starbase Yorktown (think Deep Space Nine, if the Apple Store interior decorators got their hands on it).
But beyond the story, the filmmakers have ensured this movie stands up to Trek's legacy, by making thought-provoking comments about the Federation's vaguely colonial policy, while celebrating the principle of "infinite diversity in infinite combinations". And there's one very interesting way they're doing that...
Beyond Introduces 50 New Aliens
The British magazine SFX recently did an issue on Beyond, dropping plenty of plot hints and some intriguing fun facts.
Last year, Simon Pegg promised that there would be some surprises in store for fans, as Beyond's release coincides with the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek. And thanks to SFX, we know what one of those surprises will be.
Each character belongs to an alien race heretofore unseen in Star Trek, [Jaylah and Krall are] just two of the 50 included in the film: One for each year of Trek's existence.
This might seem like just a cool little Easter Egg, but it's really nice to know that Pegg and Lin are dedicated to broadening the scope of the Trek galaxy.
The myriad of alien races that have appeared in Trek over the years have always been a huge part of the franchise's appeal, not to mention part of Gene Roddenberry's celebration of the infinite diversity of lifeforms that could exist. From the Vulcans to the Ferengi, these aliens have provided plot fodder for many a movie or episode.
Boldly Seeking Out New Life
So where will we be finding these 50 new aliens in Beyond? Naturally, many of them will be native to the planet the Enterprise crash lands on, but it's likely we'll meet most of these aliens on Starbase Yorktown, which you can see in the below clip.
Simon Pegg already talked to IGN about how Yorktown is something of an interstellar rendezvous point, allowing dozens of different species to come together for trade, diplomacy, and leisure.
"You can imagine -- me and Jung joked that there were various aliens with leaflets, handing them out to other aliens like, ‘Come and see our world!’ But 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."
Instead of framing the action with scenes set on Earth, as in the other two films in this continuity, Beyond starts and ends on Starbase Yorktown.
This has the effect of distancing the crew from their home — we get the impression that this truly is the final frontier, right on the edge of Federation space. Here's where things get wilder, where new alien species (all 50 of them) challenge our human heroes to reevaluate their Earthly perceptions.
After the plot of Into Darkness revolved around humans, with the Klingons making a brief appearance as the quintessential savage warrior race, Beyond is taking the franchise back to that core principle of seeking out new life... and hoping it's friendly.
What's your favorite alien species in Star Trek?
[Source: SFX print issue, IGN]