The world premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is tonight, which makes it appropriate that Paramount is starting the day off promoting the next installment of America’s other big Sci-Fi film franchise associated with JJ Abrams. The first teaser for Star Trek Beyond just teleported in without warning and to be honest, as first impressions go, this one is pretty good. Watch it here.
At last we get our first glimpse at the fairly prominent aesthetic and philosophical changes director Justin Lin, taking over from JJ Abrams, is bringing. The new color palette, revamped uniforms and even haircuts give this a strangely comforting retro feel, interesting because it’s a departure from the updated versions of the 1960s’ TV series styles the previous films showcased. It helps that at least judging by the teaser, Lin is taking as his starting point the spirit of adventure, character beats and swagger JJ Abrams brought to 2009’s Star Trek which made that film an absolute joy to watch despite the fact that it was, narratively speaking, gobbledegook. The use of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” alone says “remember why you liked this cast and these movies?”
What I find particularly interesting is how prominent Simon Pegg’s Lieutenant Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott is here. Scotty is the very first character the teaser shows, before the Chris Pine’s Kirk, even. Pegg is of course an actual real-life trekkie who was vocally critical of the previous film, Star Trek Into Darkness, and he cowrote the script with Doug Jung. Lin meanwhile insists he himself is also a huge fan of the franchise. Showing Pegg first seems to me like a deliberate signal to fans that the franchise is in the hands of people who love it.
We’ll see if that pans out, but this wouldn’t be the first time Justin Lin came aboard a franchise in its third outing and completely revitalized it by breaking it down to core concepts and building from there. At least this looks to be a big budget action film about exploration, risk-taking, and the triumph of the human spirit, the bare minimum of what Star Trek should feel like, and not another dismal slog through conspiracy theory metaphors the previous film ended up being.
Along with Pegg, the film sees returning stars Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Commander Spock, Karl Urban as Lieutenant Commander Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, John Cho as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, Zoe Saldana as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, Deep Roy as Keenser, and Anton Yelchin as Ensign Pavel Chekov. They’re joined this time by Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim, Lydia Wilson. Star Trek Beyond warps into theaters July 22.