Star Trek Beyond has finally hit cinemas and while I am not going to review it in full here it's fair to say that it is far better than expected (seems to be the summer for that) and is what I'd call a "classic" Star Trek romp.
We're introduced to new worlds, new races and characters and some of the tropes that made the original series such fun. Facing unknown dangers, diplomacy and the restrictions of Starfleet regulations all combining to make the Enterprise's crew the ultimate underdogs.
Minor spoilers may follow so to stay 100 percent spoiler free come back another time once you've seen the film!
One thing that impressed me was Simon Pegg's addition to the writing team, yes this ends up with more Montgomery Scotty (you'll get it when you see it) than we've seen in the prior movies. Some might say this is Pegg catering to his own ego, but one criticism leveled at the previous two films by many was the lack of Scott. He was out of the loop for more than half of both films when in the classic series and movies he is front and center in the action.
James Doohan's portrayal was also the lynchpin of the cast. He provided a lot of the humor, at times physically needed. He wasn't a young man, but was running around decks, frantically working on problems and consistently being the example for the crew. He never leaves his post, never quits and always offers a solution, even if it's a risk.
He also provided some pathos when his nephew died in Wrath of Khan:
Pegg clearly understands the importance of Scotty and that he was missed in the first two movies. Now he is fully "one of the boys" and has a somewhat paternal relationship with newcomer Jaylah (Sophie Boutella) although it's also not beyond the realms of possibility they could hook up.
Of course this meant some characters took more of a backseat this time out, notably Sulu and sadly Chekov as things turn out. They became more companions for the important crew member in each situation.
Chekov and Kirk made a great team however, it's a shame we won't ever see more of that due to Anton Yelchin's passing. Likewise Sulu and Uhura were often a pairing seen in the original show and movies so it was quite cool to see them used.
This was the other strength in the writing — that the original team worked so well because once they were off the bridge, they were rarely together and had little units that worked well together. Often Sulu and Uhura or Scotty would team up and their camaraderie would carry the movie.
For the first time in the new trilogy this now seems to be a major factor. We now have those units that can go off and do other things and we know the actors involved have the appropriate chemistry to make it work, losing Yelchin however is a massive blow and will leave a big hole in the cast.
If there is a criticism of the movie, it's that ultimately the villain was if not quite a letdown, ultimately once again a tragic figure rather than a monstrous one. This is used far too often in Hollywood and in Trek, especially considering the overpowered nature of tech would have felt much more realistic in the hands of a true monster like Admiral Marcus or Khan, it seems a waste of what could have been a great Trek villain.
It's no spoiler to say that we see the first Enterprise fall in this film, the trailers not only reveal this but it's no secret it also occurred in the third movie last time... so the parallels are continuing.
To Boldly Go?
We've already had the news that Chris Helmsworth is returning as George Kirk in some way. This is not likely to be a cameo and points towards some kind of Time Travel scenario which happened in, that's right Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home, so more of those parallels.
Now I don't see this being "Kirk Saving The Whales" again, but there are a few storyline possibilities, especially now a true geek like Pegg is on board the writing team. They may be reused, but each could very easily have been brought forward by the new timeline.
V'ger was the villain of The Motion Picture, if you can call it that. It was simply returning home to meet its maker as programmed, but after several thousand years and achieving sentience. This idea was somewhat recycled for The Voyage Home but with aliens trying to contact Whales, who were the most intelligent species when they last visited.
Using this type of villain as a reason for the Enterprise to have to return to the past, or indeed George Kirk to head to the future to meet his son and his crew makes a lot of sense and some plot elements are in place now.
Jaylah is a character somewhat similar to Ileya in The Motion Picture. With Chekov no longer part of the crew, there is great scope for a new team member to take on the Will Decker role. Indeed someone new who develops an affection/romance with Jaylah.
The likely candidate is a retconned Matt Decker whose son ultimately sacrificed himself in The Motion Picture and who was played by William Windom in the original series. This recycling might be lazy to some, but could also add to the idea of "everyone in the old universe is out there somewhere".
Where George comes in might be a bit more difficult - perhaps V'Ger uses George's form as a vessel, either to undermine/unnerve Jim Kirk or to try to convince him his intentions are peaceful much as Ileya was used in The Motion Picture.
In the original timeline, the Enterprise encounters The Nexus much later at the start of Generations, with Jim Kirk ultimately becoming trapped there, presumed dead until he is found by Jean Luc Picard and ultimately dies saving millions from Doctor Soran's attempts to return there.
This would be a very interesting idea to bring in early. What if the original way Spock and Nero had traveled to this timeline became the Nexus? George Kirk could still be there (as could Nero potentially) and be living a fantasy life. Meeting his grown son in these circumstances could be a great twist on Generation's tale, George could be tempted by the perfect life he led as the hero who saved The Enterprise and not want to give that up, even not believe Jim is his son.
When events force him out of the Nexus. George Kirk becomes an antagonist, trying return there at all costs and putting him at odds with his own son. Add a returning Nero into the mix and the stakes get very high indeed.
Perhaps the most controversial idea, but an exciting one and the one I'd love to see most. The Borg were never seen until much later in the original timeline, however now they could be seen much sooner due to events playing out as they did.
The Borg would be a terrifying prospect to a younger Enterprise crew and Federation, it could (for example) explain Chekov's demise without ever having to see his death onscreen. He gets a promotion to another ship that is assimilated off screen.
What if the Borg piggyback the same time rip Nero did to arrive and the horrific revelation that George Kirk has become the new Locutus of Borg, this could inspire Jim to save his father from that fate and thus the future.
This could really split the team, some of them feeling it's a personal thing and others fully behind their captain, maybe their own Civil War, with Spock being the surprising voice of logic "We are all here because I did exactly this, but this time if we don't save George Kirk, I can't and none of us will be here."
A newly cast Borg Queen would also give an opportunity to get an A-List actress into the movie, perhaps Hemsworth's fellow Avenger Scarlett Johanssen? or Jennifer Lawrence?
Of course they have to reset the timeline exactly to how it was — so George Kirk still has to die, right on cue when Nero arrives and Jim is born, which would add to the dramatic element and build poignancy into his death.
Especially if the new crew dovetailed into that Star Trek opening having to "blend in" to make sure everything happens as it should. That's also happened before!
Imagine someone from the future said to you "If you do this, and get it 100 percent right, only you die. If not, everyone does, now and for all time." What would you do? What if the person telling you that is your own grown-up son who has time traveled to tell you?
With Pine and Hemsworth's considerable acting chops — hell of a movie right there don't you think?
Which one would you like to see most? Answer in the comments or in the poll below!
58820 b875b47c-bfde-4747-900d-0b9084ce6b00 poll http://images-cdn.moviepilot.com/images/c_fill,h_200,w_486/t_mp_quality_gif/kjlpwexul9yjmiobrabu/-1071775.gif 193598 b31e500d-1baf-4d9c-aef6-13a1f83242af 58820 V'Ger 193599 1c942c86-4113-4f04-bb6d-fd0177251103 58820 The Nexus 193600 91f150ff-d841-4482-92f2-cce1f7893a89 58820 The Borg 193601 c7e84d7a-8f8e-4899-a45f-b410bd41addb 58820 Other (Write In Comments)