It has been traveling through countless galaxies for 50 years. Now, in the 13th feature film based on the "Star Strek" series, the USS Enterprise is off on yet another new mission. Revisit the cult.
"Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."
This famous speech kicked off the very first "Star Trek" episode, which initially aired in 1966 in the US. Now, 700 episodes and 12 feature films later, countless fans of the series - aka Trekkies - are looking forward to the third part of the reboot of the famous sci-fi series.
"Star Trek Beyond" is released just as Gene Roddenberry's original series turns 50.
Visionary multicultural universe
Roddenberry's series is set in 2200, years after humanity survived World War III. Humans are now peacefully cohabiting with other alien life forms. Together they form the "United Federation of Planets."
The USS Enterprise has the mission to explore foreign planets, galaxies, and unknown life. The original crew of the Enterprise could count on captain James Tiberius Kirk (William Shatner, now aged 85), chief officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy, who died in 2015), chief engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott (James Doohan, who died in 2005), commander Sulu (George Takei, now 79), communications officer lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols, now 83), navigator Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig, 79) und the ship's medical officer, Dr. Leonard H. "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelly, who died in 1999).
The creator of the original "Star Trek," Gene Roddenberry (1921-1991), was ahead of his time. His galactic tale overcame cultural and racial differences, allowing many different space species to cohabit peacefully - most of the time. The Enterprise's crew showed diversity: an African American, an Asian, a Russian and a half-human, half-alien character worked together. This world view caused excitement as well as indignation.
An episode from 1968 featured one of TV's first interracial kisses - between Captain Kirk and Officer Uhura, portrayed by African-American actress Nichelle Nichols. This was considered inacceptable in some southern states of the US, where the episode was censored.
Nichols was also one of the first African Americans to have a lead role in a TV series in the US.
The leading trio of the USS Enterprise embodied three types of characters: the go-getter (Kirk), the logical (Spock), and the emotional ("Bones"). Roddenberry's characters brilliantly depicted the way people have to rely on each other in order to reach their goals.
Stranded in 'Star Trek Beyond'
In "Star Trek Beyond," the crew of the USS Enterprise features Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock, John Cho as Sulu, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Karl Urban as "Bones" McCoy and Pavel Chekov is depicted by Anton Yelchin, who tragically passed away in a car accident a month ago.
As they travel trough space on another intergalactic mission, they are attacked by the hostile alien Krall (Idris Elba) and his henchmen. After this attack, the enemies completely destroy the Enterprise, and the crew members take refuge on a foreign planet called Altamid.
Star filmmaker J.J. Abrams is returning as producer for this third film of the reboot series, but Justin Lin has replaced him as director.
Ambitious female warrior and gay Sulu
Stranded on the foreign planet, Montgomery "Scotty" Scott is searching for his crew mates and meets the wondrous alien woman Jaylah. Scotty, depicted by screenwriter Simon Pegg, is fascinated and hooks up with Jaylah.
According to Pegg, the character as well as the name of Scotty's new ally have been inspired by Jennifer Lawrence' role in "Winter's Bone." In that film, Lawrence depicts an independent, persistent woman who fights to protect her family from eviction.
The new movie also features a controversial addition to the original series. In "Star Trek Beyond," Hikaru Sulu (John Cho) lives with a male partner. Sulu's sexual orientation is not an issue in the plot; it's simply circumstantial, aiming to depict an ideal modern world view.
As an iconic proponent of LGBT rights, George Takei, the original Sulu in the series, welcomed the presence of a gay character in the story - but he didn't agree with suddenly changing the features of his long established character.
More to come
Paramount Studios revealed on Monday that a fourth sequel is planned for the reboot of the series. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is going to meet his father George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth). Hemsworth had already portrayed George Kirk in "StarTrek" (2009).
"Star Trek Beyond" opens in theaters in Germany and many other countries on July 21 and a day later in the US.
Yelchin tragically passed away in a car accident a month ago.