Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

11 things we learned from 'Star Trek Beyond'

It's more Trek than it looks, and it's all about Brexit. Here's what we learned from the new Star Trek movie. Spoilers on the starboard bow, captain!

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
4 min read
Des Taylor

"Star Trek Beyond" is a joyful, fast-paced romp, so let's open hailing frequencies and add to the captain's log 11 of our favourite things about the latest adventure of the Starship Enterprise.


Sensors detect heavy spoilers, so shields up!

The reboot has caught up with the original series

The rebooted movies took us back to before the crew of the Enterprise were the crew we know, introducing a young and reckless James T Kirk and a Spock still struggling to deal with his emotions. But now, in "Beyond", the crew is part-way through their five-year mission, which is where we met them in the original show. In a sense, the saga has come full circle.

Watch this: 'Star Trek Beyond' review: Traditional Trek on fast-forward

It's not based on "Star Trek III" (but it sort of is)

Although the second reboot "Star Trek into Darkness" reworked the second original movie "Wrath of Khan", the creators of "Beyond" decided to come up with a totally new story for the third reboot. But there's at least one big parallel: "Beyond" features the destruction of the Enterprise, as does "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock".

There's another very nerdy reference too. In "Beyond", Yorktown is the name of a starbase, but in old-Trek the name was used for a starship. At the end of "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" the starship Yorktown was rechristened the Enterprise-A -- like the end of "Beyond", in which a ship built at Yorktown is christened Enterprise-A.

The writers might be "Enterprise" fans

Speaking of nerdy nods, among the fan-pleasing references to old school canon are mentions of the Xindi race and MACO troops, the marines of early Starfleet. These featured heavily in the much-maligned prequel series "Enterprise".

Upside-down camera is the new lens flare

Justin Lin loves to spin his camera round, doesn't he?

Star... Trek... Beyoooond!

Dunno why they used the Beastie Boys when this was the obvious choice...

That's 1979 hit "One Step Beyond" by British ska-pop group Madness, by the way -- good luck getting that out of your head.

On a related note, the musical interlude may have fans rolling their eyes, but the manoeuvre is approved by everybody's Time Lord. In the 1988 "Doctor Who" story "Silver Nemesis", the Doctor confounded the villainous Cybermen by playing a jazz cassette to block their communications.

You'd never guess who wrote it

Scotty, played by Simon Pegg, plays a big part in proceedings, including plenty of funny lines and even the odd action beat. And guess who wrote it? Why, Simon Pegg!

Pegg co-wrote the script with Doug Jung, who's not to be left out: he appears as Sulu's husband on the Yorktown.

Enlarge Image

Uhura, Sulu and the crew of the Enterprise get lots of cool stuff to do in the fast-paced "Beyond".

Kimberley French

That said, everyone got a say

Before they began writing, Pegg and Jung emailed the actors to ask what they wanted to do. And to be fair, all the crewmembers get a cool moment or two, which is more than could be said of the "Next Generation" movies.

Jaylah is meant to be Jennifer Lawrence (but she's more like Rey)

Pegg and Jung conceived of this new character as being like Jennifer Lawrence's character in the film "Winter's Bone", so they began referring to her as "J-Law" (Lawrence's nickname)...which ended up as Jaylah.

But when you think about it, Jaylah is a scavenger living in a wrecked spaceship, playing with the artefacts of the past and fighting with a staff. That sounds less like Jennifer Lawrence and more like Rey from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens".

Amazon Prime directive

Danny Pudi of "Community", Shea Whigham from "Boardwalk Empire" and Greg Grunberg from "Lost" and "The Force Awakens" appear, although they're mostly unrecognisable under layers of makeup. Oh, and who's the last name on the cast list, playing "Starfleet Official"? It's only the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. We're hoping that means Amazon Prime deliveries by transporter are just round the corner.

It's all about Brexit

Bad guy Krall is all about division. He refuses to co-exist with the people he once fought against, and his goal is to smash apart the United Federation of Planets. Our heroes meanwhile fight to convince him that unity, tolerance and friendship are the way forward.

Krall's bitter urge to break apart a federation of former enemies who have become allies is relevant in a world in which the population of Britain recently voted to leave the alliance of the European Union, a move dubbed "Brexit".

I guess you could say Krall wants a Trekxit.

It's actually more Trek than it looks

Enlarge Image

The original Enterprise crew in action.

CBS/Getty Images

The planet turns out to have a connection to Earth's past, and the baddie is a Starfleet officer gone loopy (like Gary Mitchell or Matt Decker). There's even a message about how we're better off joining together and helping each other out. Heck, all that's missing is a supercomputer that thinks it's a god.

Even if the action divides fans, "Beyond's" love for classic Trek is obvious. That's fitting seeing as the film is released just shy of Star Trek's 50th anniversary. With all six original shows on Netflix and a new series on the way, it's never been a better time to be a Star Trek fan. And now the saga has come full circle, who knows where it will (boldly) go from here.