In an unprecedented bit of marketing, Paramount held the first ever ‘Fan Event’ for Star Trek Beyond, the third film in the rebooted series (and thirteenth Trek overall). The event, held on the Paramount lot, hosted hordes of fans as they got their first look at the newest trailer and ten minutes from the film, due out July 22nd.
After being ushered through a replica of the Starfleet corridor and led onto a soundstage (doubling as the Enterprise Transporter Room), the Trek-faithful were greeted by producer J.J. Abrams and director Justin Lin. The duo stressed the positivity and optimism in Star Trek Beyond – reflective of the work of creator Gene Roddenberry. There was an almost Oprah-level bit of generosity on display. Fans were given free limited edition posters, tickets to the San Diego premiere and even props from the film. The feel-good atmosphere extended into a celebration of the late Leonard Nimoy. Zachary Quinto, joined by cast members Chris Pine and Karl Urban, said that despite the actor’s passing – Nimoy’s “presence somehow was felt even more” on the newest Trek film. Quinto then led the cast and audience in a toast for the former Spock, revealing a new dedication on the Paramount Lot: Leonard Nimoy Way. There was hardly a dry eye in the crowd.
Afterward Justin Lin introduced the new trailer for Star Trek Beyond (which you can watch here), followed by select scenes from the picture. The footage shown (three scenes in total) seemed to be predominantly from the very early first act. In the first bit, Captain Kirk suffers the pangs of an existential crisis. He’s three years into his five-year mission, cabin fever setting in. “Everything feels so episodic,” Kirk knowingly narrates over a montage of images – the crew performing their daily rigmarole, Kirk struggling over which captain’s outfit to wear (they’re all the same), Scotty futzing around with the ship’s coffee machine… It’s basic set-up material, establishing the overarching themes of the picture and getting the audience up to speed on where the Enterprise crew’s heads are at.
The second scene doubled down on Kirk’s existential woes. Over a birthday drink with Bones, Kirk laments whether he’s become Captain for all the wrong reasons. His father chose the profession; but Kirk, well, he backed into it over a dare. Has he lived up to his father? Is he even half the Captain his father was? Bones answers with a psychoanalytical one-two-punch, telling Kirk “You’ve spent all this time being Dad… But who are you?” Mic dropped. Scene over. It’s not all heavy philosophical posturing though, the scene mixing a heavy dose of banter in between the emotional landmines. The brandy the two drink – Bones stole it from Chekov’s personal collection. “I thought he’d be more of a vodka man,” Kirk humorously opines. “Me too,” Bones offers with a shrug.
Pine and Urban have a nice easy-going energy together. So much of the previous two films focused on Kirk-Spock, that it’s nice to see Beyond flesh out the other relationships amongst the crew. Per Pine, he actually spends much of the film’s running time with neither Spock nor Bones, but surprisingly enough – Chekov. Similarly Urban stated that he’s shares a majority of his scenes in Beyond with Spock.
Lastly, the swarming attack sequence (so predominantly featured in the trailers) screened in bits and pieces. Much of the VFX hadn’t been completed – so instead of screening as a whole, the sequence jumped around somewhat haphazardly. It all looked good though – bright, clear and vibrant; but it was hard to get a feel for the geography given the incomplete nature. Regardless there’s a terrific cut from Scotty trying to get the propulsion units to fire off – to an exterior of the USS Enterprise, the camera pulling back, revealing that the propulsion units have been severed during the attack, the ship drifting dead aimlessly.
Overall the footage emphasized a sense of ‘fun’ yet grounded it with the emotional malaise of its lead character – a balance the film ably achieved (albeit in ten minutes). The whole Fan Event reflected the futurist sensibilities of Star Trek, a pure and optimistic hope for a better tomorrow. In such spirit, I too hope Star Trek Beyond is every bit as good tomorrow as it was today.
Star Trek Beyond opens everywhere July 22nd.