In 50 years of Star Trek history, fans have seen the USS Enterprise go up against hundreds if not thousands of equally-sized ships that threaten to destroy it -- but the new Star Trek Beyond presents the legendary vessel with a different kind of horrifying threat. The primary antagonist in the movie, Krall (played by Idris Elba), attacks with a giant swarm under his control, and as we've seen in trailers, they do an excellent job of tearing the Enterprise apart. So how did the filmmakers develop this approach? It's actually an idea that director Justin Lin has had for a long time, understanding the advantages tiny ships would have going up against something as big as NCC-1701.
I learned about the origin of Krall's swarm of ships late last week while interviewing Star Trek Beyond co-writer Doug Jung during the blockbuster's Los Angeles press day. Always curious about how ideas come about and evolve over the course of production, I asked Jung how he and Simon Pegg came up with the bad guy's battle strategy -- and he explained that it was actually a contribution from Justin Lin that they all thought worked perfectly. Said the filmmaker,
The swarm was always in play. I think that was again something that Justin always wanted to do. He liked that idea of like asymmetrical warfare and he kind of made sense. He's like, 'Why would you have that big ship going around? Why not just get a bunch of little ones?' And I was like, 'Yeah. Guess it makes sense!' And it was also, I think we wanted to get a way a little bit from that sort of submarine warfare kind of feel.
It's certainly not the newest concept in fiction or even popular science-fiction (remember that it was the X-Wings that destroyed the Death Star), but it is tremendously cinematic, and beautifully done in Star Trek Beyond. Audiences have spent decades watching the Enterprise endure through vicious and hard-fought battles only to come out the other side okay -- but when Krall's swarm is attacking the ship in the first act of the new movie, it seems as though the powerful Federation vessel might as well be made of glue and tinfoil. It sets high stakes in the blockbuster, and while I won't get into spoilers, there is a brilliant payoff for them towards the end of the film as well.
It won't be long until you'll be able to witness the epic-ness of Krall's swarm, as Star Trek Beyond will be arriving in theaters this Friday, July 22nd. Until then, be sure to stay tuned for more from our interviews with the movie's filmmakers!