Justin Lin on 'Star Trek Beyond': It's Not Marvel's 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
"Marvel does their own thing, and they do it great -- 'Trek' is something different."
Director Justin Lin is quick to distinguish his newest film, next summer's "Star Trek Beyond," from that other popular franchise about heroes in space -- especially when fans drew comparisons to "Guardians" before and after the launch of the film's first trailer, which was released this week.But during a recent trailer presentation event, what similarities Lin did acknowledge were between "Trek" and his other franchise. The teaser, which emphasizes the film's considerable action, features a callback of sorts to the mid-air catch from Lin's "Fast Six," swapping out Dom and Letty for Kirk and a new alien badass played by Sofia Boutella ("Kingsman").
"I am who I am," the director grinned.
The director seemed enthusiastic (and a little tired) on set when Moviefone visited a few months before the teaser premiered. The teaser went through several iterations before Lin settled on the final cut. The 93 second tease showcases key footage we saw being shot while on a set visit in August, a scene featuring the crew of the Enterprise struggling to recover from the destruction of their ship while licking their wounds/plotting next steps on an alien world.
The teaser offers glimpses of this alien planet, as well as the vessel (likely Federation) that our struggling crew board for refuge. (The name of that ship? The Franklin, according to the patch on the arm of Spock's new mission jacket.) We also learned the name of the ship -- and saw its old-school bridge, complete with a grainy, digital-green Franklin crew photo on a monitor -- when we visited set.
Lin and the "Beyond" cast and crew were epically tight-lipped about plot details. But the few things they did divulge can be glimpsed in the teaser. Here's what we can tell you:
-- The villain, played by Idris Elba, is named Krall. And he has a very specific, anti-Federation agenda.
-- The crew of the Enterprise is about halfway through their five-year mission, as relayed to us by Chris Pine and Simon Pegg. They make a pit stop at a starbase (known as Yorktown), a place populated with at least 50 brand new alien species designed in honor of Trek's 50th anniversary. (We spied a few creature designs that we can't talk about, but if you're a die-hard Trekker, then you will be very happy to see what this trip to the Final Frontier has in store. Think Breen-looking aliens.)
-- We didn't see the Enterprise bridge. Why? Because it's been destroyed. All we saw was the remains of one of her hallways.
Moviefone recently sat down with the director to discuss fan reactions to the trailer, the big set pieces it hinges on, the motivations of Idris Elba's very pissed-off baddie, and what "Beyond" has in store for fans. Here are the highlights:
Revealing Idris Elba's Villain
That alien that looks like it belongs on "Babylon 5," the one that gets its close-up in the teaser (pictured)? That's Idris Elba's character, Krall.
And contrary to popular internet rumors, he is obviously not a Klingon. But he is a villain that Lin promises will have both a swarm of stabby ship and a unique philosophy behind his assault on Kirk and the Enterprise crew.
"He's a character that has a very distinct philosophy," Lin teased. And it is a philosophy that conflicts violently with that of the Federation, prompting Krall to growl the trailer's best line: "This is where the frontier pushes back!"
Krall's reptilian look required at least four hours to apply, as the character represents a new race never before seen in the "Star Trek" universe. In fact, as we learned on set, "Beyond" aims to diversify the Trek universe with a very large and unique canvas full of citizens representing the "strange new worlds" Trek prides itself on exploring. Speaking of exploration...
Why the Movie Is Called "Star Trek Beyond"
Lin revealed that co-writer and actor Simon Pegg came up with the title, which is tethered to the plot and the five-year mission the Enterprise crew have been on for almost three years. The title also stems from Lin's initial discussions with producer J.J. Abrams, who encouraged Lin to make the project his own -- to "go and be bold."
The more the filmmakers talked about what the story should be, the more they kept saying "let's keep pushing," according to Lin. And that is when Pegg locked in on the title "Star Trek Beyond."
The Enterprise Gets Her Ass Kicked... Again
For the second film in a row, the Federation flagship gets beaten up -- bad. But this time, the ship follows a similar fate to that of the Enterprise in the last Part III, "Search for Spock" -- that of being completely destroyed.
Lin told us on set, and during our post-teaser trailer discussion, that Pegg originally wanted the Enterprise to be attacked at the end of the second act, the natural low point in three-act feature film storytelling. But the director argued for a less conventional place to put the flagship's epic battle -- somewhere about halfway through the movie. (Or near the end of the first act.)
In "Search for Spock," Kirk used his skills as a great tactician by sacrificing his ship to save his best friend, Spock, who just came back from the dead. When asked if the ship's fate is tied to this series finally giving Kirk a chance to show off his exceptional combat skills, Lin didn't really answer.
But he did say that the attack will subvert expectations, especially when it comes to the aforementioned swarm of ships responsible for her destruction. The idea of a swarm of ships attacking Enterprise draws from modern day warfare to a degree, where it's small cells going on the offensive instead of one massive unit.
"'Star Trek' has a very 1960s sensibility of who has the bigger ship usually wins, right? And if you look at it, the attack, these ships are 40 feet long. [But in our movie] there's like 4,000 of them. And so I think even in the way they're being encountered, and how people are coming, it's -- you can't help but, I mean, we live in a world that is ever evolving. And I think that that's always made 'Star Trek' sci-fi great is when you're able to at least acknowledge what's happening today."
Find out the fate of the Enterprise crew when "Beyond" hits theaters July 22, 2016.
Star Trek Beyond
The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation... Read the Plot