From left, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Sofia Boutella as Jaylah and Chris Pine as Captain Kirk in Star Trek Beyond. Kimberley French / Paramount Pictures
From left, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Sofia Boutella as Jaylah and Chris Pine as Captain Kirk in Star Trek Beyond. Kimberley French / Paramount Pictures

Stars Chris Pine and Sofia Boutella talk latest Star Trek movie and filming in Dubai

The message over the com-link is loud and clear: Star Trek Beyond is not just another summer blockbuster.

The third movie in the rebooted sci-fi series to feature the all-new cast, led by Chris Pine as USS Enterprise captain James T Kirk, it is also something of a celebration for the franchise – this year marks the 50th anniversary of the debut of Gene Roddenberry's influential television show. No pressure, then.

"I think there is always a pressure involved when you're dealing with a film that costs so much money, and is going to cost so much money to promote – and then when you're dealing with a fan base as rabid as the Trek fans," says 35-year-old Pine. "But also because it's such a noted anniversary [on which] to pay tribute to what has been a groundbreaking mythology."

Certainly, Star Trek Beyond pulls out all the stops to give Trekkies what they want. There's a new director, Fast and Furious veteran Justin Lin, at the helm – taking over from J J Abrams, who guided the reboot and directed the previous two films – and a new writing team, including Simon Pegg, who also plays the Enterprise's chief engineer, Montgomery "Scotty" Scott.

There are also new characters – including ruthless warmongering alien Krall (played by Idris Elba), who threatens the extinction of the crew, and Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), another alien who becomes the crew’s ally.

“The Marvel movies seem to make movies every month, but ours is … we’ve taken our time doing it,” says Pine, clearly proud of what this fresh creative team has achieved.

Along the way, there has been controversy – the first, ­action-heavy trailer was not well received by fans, or Pegg, who admitted he “didn’t love it” and reassured fans it wasn’t an accurate reflection of the movie – and tragedy, when actor Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov, was killed in a freak car accident at his home last month.

Amid all this, Star Trek Beyond has, as its title suggests, a different set of priorities from the previous two films.

“You see the monotony of life in space, as you’d imagine on any voyage on a submarine or aircraft carrier,” says Pine.

“You’re washing the decks and painting and going through the motions of your job. It’s not drama 24/7, and I loved this idea of seeing the daily life of what it would be like to be with people you love, in space, all the time. You have to get to know one another and [sometimes] you’re irritated and ticked off with them.”

That said, the action ramps up when the Enterprise comes under attack from Krall's forces. At the heart of the conflict is Jaylah, who helps the crew when they crash-land on a forbidding planet.

A former dancer for Madonna, Algerian-born actress Boutella caught the attention of cinema audiences as the limber assassin in last year's Kingsman: The Secret Service, which made her the perfect choice for the Star Trek role.

“Jaylah’s very athletic,” says Boutella. “She’s a survivor and she uses that physical skill to defend herself and defend others.”

While the majority of the film was shot in Vancouver, Dubai also takes a starring role, with the filmmakers using the city’s ultra-modern skyline as the ­real-life filming location for scenes set in a floating space city. Boutella says it could not have been more apt.

"The [Dubai] architecture is fascinating," says the 34-year-old, who had only spent one day in Dubai for a work assignment before visiting with the Star Trek cast and crew. "For making a futuristic movie, I felt like I was in the future. I felt like I was on another planet. It's very eerie They have penguins in a mall – it's very weird, surreal. None of it seems natural – it seems alien."

Boutella spent two weeks in Dubai last September and October while making the film and says she loved her time there, making a point of visiting the souqs and some less touristy spots. But she admits that she struggled to cope with the high ­temperatures.

“It was super-hot,” she says. “I remember we went to the beach and it felt like we were taking a bath ... in a massive tub.”

At least it gave her a good chance to cleanse her skin – after spending four hours in the make-up chair each day as Jaylah’s distinctive white-and-black markings were applied.

While Boutella is new to the Star Trek franchise, Pine has been part of the world for seven years now – and will continue to be part of it for a while yet, with the official announcement that a fourth film is in the works and will, intriguingly, feature the return of Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers), who briefly appeared as Kirk's father in 2009's Star Trek – in which the character was killed off.

“I didn’t really understand quite honestly what I was getting myself into,” says Pine. “And now having been in it for a while, meeting people and seeing how impactful it’s been, I guess my take on it is a bit different.

“I feel more part of the family. It’s so overwhelming in a way.”

With 50 years of influential pop-culture history behind the Star Trek phenomenon, that's hardly surprising.

Star Trek Beyond is in cinemas now


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

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