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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Star Trek can be found here.

What is Star Trek about?

Star Trek takes place in an alternate reality from the original Star Trek series. It follows Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) in their early years, as they both join Starfleet and soon go aboard the new Federation starship USS Enterprise, commanded by Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). They go up against a new villain, Captain Nero (Eric Bana), a vengeful Romulan who has traveled back through time and is bent on destroying Vulcan, Spock's homeworld, because, as part of his personal vendetta against Spock and the Federation, he vows to avenge the destruction of his Romulan homeworld.

The only actors to return from the original franchise are Leonard Nimoy reprising his role as Spock (Prime) and Majel Barrett as the Star Fleet computer voice. Character-wise, however, we'll see Captain James T. Kirk, Captain/Rear Admiral Christopher Pike, Doctor Leonard 'Bones' McCoy (Karl Urban), Lt Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Spock's father Sarek (Ben Cross), and Spock's mother Amanda (Winona Ryder).

The beginning of the movie quickly details the birth of James Tiberius Kirk following the evacuation of the crew, including his very pregnant mother (Jennifer Morrison), from the USS Kelvin, where his father, George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth), has assumed command following the death of Captain Robau (Faran Tahir) at the hands of Romulan Captain Nero in 2233. Growing up fatherless, Jim pursues a 22-year path of youthful rebelliousness, eventually meeting Starfleet Captain Christopher Pike and Lt. Nyota Uhura in 2255, who persuade him to enlist in Starfleet Academy, where he makes friends with Dr Leonard McCoy. The main storyline of the the movie takes place three years later in 2258, following Kirk's hearing at Starfleet Academy for cheating on the Kobayashi Maru test. For the rest of the movie, then, Kirk is 25 years old.

Old Spock is the same Spock featured in the prime universe. He is from the 24th century, and he interacts with young Kirk and Scotty. In the comic book prequel, Star Trek: Countdown, Old Spock and Nero are shown living in the 24th century and interacting with the characters Picard, Data, Worf, etc. Ultimately, Spock is pulled into a black hole at the end of the story, sacrificing himself, with Nero pulled in as well. We now know that this phenomenon is not a traditional black hole and does serve as a sort of time portal, hence giving a reason why Nero and Old Spock are interacting with young Kirk and crew. It is believed by physicists today that black holes might create wormholes, which cross space-time itself.

Who is Nero?

Nero is a Romulan from the late 24th century. He and his crew of the Narada served as miners for the Romulan Empire. When a supernova threatens the entire galaxy, he offers his services to Spock so that they might be able to obtain enough material to create "red matter" to contain the supernova. Their actions come too late to save Romulus, and Nero blames Spock and Vulcan for the destruction of his homeworld and the death of his family. Vowing vengeance, he and his crew get equipment and materials to turn the Narada into a weapon of war and set out to wreak havoc on the entire galaxy and take vengeance on Spock and the Federation. He tries to prevent Spock from launching the red matter into the star that has gone supernova but arrives too late. He and Spock are both sucked into the black hole which has been created. It takes both of their ships over a century into the past, setting up the events for the current film.

Yes. This will be the third film in the entire series of 11 to use time travel, not counting Captain Picard's voyage through the Nexus in Star Trek: Generations (1994). Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and Star Trek: First Contact (1996) both used time travel as a major plot device. However, this is the first film in which there is not a return to the future. The major changes brought about by Nero and Spock's trip to the past stay changed, causing an alternative timeline, one that will play out differently from what had been seen in the original series.

The film is based upon the characters created for the original 1960s Star Trek series and makes multiple references to events established in that series as well as the original series of theatrical features (particularly Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan) (1982). However, the film does not directly tie into the events of any previous Star Trek film or TV episode, as it is set in an alternate timeline. The movie does have a comic book prequel called Star Trek: Countdown, set few years after the events narrated in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), and it follows the characters of Spock and Nero, with their interactions with Picard and other Next Generation characters, just prior to the accidental travel of Spock and Nero to the 23rd century. The comic book series has been collected into a trade paperback, Star Trek: Countdown (2009).

Is this a reboot?

Yes and no. The movie's premise is that an alternate timeline was created when Nero traveled back in time, and it is within that timeline that this movie takes place. That is why the answer is yes and no: No, in the sense that the preexisting Star Trek legacy is acknowledged as having existed by the time traveling premise and the presence of the elderly Spock. (In fact, the elderly Spock even tells the young Kirk about some differences between the two timelines.) Yes, in the sense that having established that the film is an alternate timeline, with accompanying changes to character and storyline, it stands apart from previous episodes and films and allows future episodes to differ from the old canon. The creators have also taken this opportunity to update the look of ships and technology to modern expectations, which can also be considered a reboot of the old continuity. Had the plot of this movie not included old Spock and Nero arriving from the future and changing time, then it would be a full reboot (same characters and concept, different character development and story). The creation of the alternate timeline is a storytelling device that allows Abrams and his writers a way of accounting for and acknowledging their changes to the old canon instead of ignoring it, while accomplishing the same function of a reboot in relieving them the burden of being a faithful prequel. Old Spock's wish of good luck to his younger self, and his private remark at the promotion ceremony of young Kirk, "Thrusters on full," make it clear that the torch has been passed and that the crew he knew are about to embark on very different adventures. How much of the original canon will survive in this alternate timeline in future installments is unknown.

The key element to remember is that this is a sequel as well as a reboot. That means that everything that has happened before in the Star Trek universe is not necessarily guaranteed to happen again or with the same outcome. This gives the writers some freedom and audiences something to look forward to without feeling that they know how things will ultimately end. For better or worse, there is no canon or required events beyond the movie. This is explained in the movie by the fact that Nero's return to the past has changed the timeline and created an alternate universe which is where future Star Trek events will occur. This new alternate universe does not affect the original series at all. That series is still happily trekking on its way, because it is not in any way bound to what's happening in the alternate universe.

No, they are only mentioned briefly during the Kobayashi Maru simulation and when Uhura talks about the 47 Klingon ships that had been destroyed. They do figure into the backstory of the film's villain. Two scenes of this were filmed but ultimately deleted (they can be seen on the BluRay version). The first scene plays directly after the opening scene of the movie. After the escape of the survivors of the USS Kelvin, Nero's ship is immediately surrounded by Klingon ships who force him to surrender because he is trespassing in their space. The second scene plays almost 20 years later, on the Klingon penal colony of Rura Penthe. Nero is interrogated by a Klingon warden, who has found his personal notes and concluded that Nero is from the future. The warden is interested in what tactical information Nero can offer about the Federation and threatens to use an animal called a Centurion slug to forcefully obtain the info. Nero frees himself, overpowers his captors, and escapes with his crew. The Klingons were eventually cut from the movie, as Abrams reportedly believes them to be over-used and clich. Also, in light of the fact that they eventually become allies in later Star Trek series and films, Abrams thought that it would not work to make them enemies again. He changed his mind, however, for the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, which does feature Klingons, who are very hostile to the point of almost being feral.

While the filmmakers acknowledge the canonical events of the established Star Trek universe (i.e. the former timeline), they have allowed themselves some artistic license in production design and the level of advancement in technology. Although the film takes place over ten years prior to The Original Series (1966), the ships and shuttles look definitely more advanced than they were in series and movies that chronologically follow. Compare, for instance, the scale and complexity of the engine rooms, the appearance of the bridge's head-up display viewscreen, the transporter beam, etc. The original designs are still recognizable, but they are more in line with what we would expect from starships 200 years in the future. These deviations/retcons are deliberate, as our idea of the future has dramatically changed since the 1960s, especially in light of the technical advances from 1980 to now. For example, the idea of a handheld wireless phone seemed quite futuristic in 1966 but is commonplace in the year 2009. Also, The Original Series (1966) was filmed on an notoriously modest budget which simply did not allow for much fanciness in set design and props. Such discrepancies were already encountered in the series Star Trek: Enterprise, where much of the technology appeared far in advance of that used on The Original Series, despite Enterprise taking place over a century before TOS. As part of the new and fresh approach to the Star Trek universe, the filmmakers of Star Trek: The Future Begins have chosen to give their representation of the future and not rigidly adhere to standards and conventions set by previous Star Trek material.

Writers Orci and Kurtzman have said in interviews that the in-universe explanation for the increased technology is that Starfleet obtained detailed sensor scans of the Narada during her initial incursion into the 23rd century (of course, this does not explain why in the opening scene, the USS Kelvin already shows most of the improved technology while the Narada has not arrived yet). The increase in size of the USS Enterprise is partially explained by the ten year difference in the construction and launch of the NCC-1701. In the prime universe, the Enterprise is launched in 2245 under Captain Robert April. In the alternate universe, she is launched in 2255 under Captain Christopher Pike.

In the comic book prequel to the movie, Star Trek: Countdown, it is explained that the Romulans shave and tattoo their heads after their planet and people are destroyed. The shaved heads and markings are explained as a Romulan martial ritual, such that soldiers who lost family members shave and paint themselves as a sign of loss, the markings and baldness fading as the pain subsides. Although Nero and his crew are miners, not soldiers, they decide to effectively assume the roles of soldiers after seeing their planet destroyed. They decide to permanently tattoo the markings onto themselves to signify that their pain will not fade. However, in Old-Spock's flashback/flashforward, Nero is shown already tattooed just moments after his planet has been destroyed.

Nero claims that the Narada used to be a mining ship. Perhaps the weapons are for basic protection against meteorites, or they are necessary to blow up rocks for mining purposes. Also, remember that the Narada is almost 150 years more advanced than any ship she encounters, so phasers and torpedoes that are light in the 24th century would seem highly advanced for people in the 23rd century. The prequel comic "Countdown" details the outfitting of the Narada with advanced Romulan weapons derived from Borg technology. Romulans are known for their technological superiority, and their distrust towards other species, so it would not be unusual for them to outfit even mining ships with heavy weaponry. In 2387, they are planning on building their own Borg super-fleet. What you see of the Narada is entirely Borg technology; the Borg parts of the ship surround the old mining vessel like a protective cocoon, hence why the ship is so powerful and is able to destroy a fleet of starships in minutes. The ship, according to "Countdown," has nanoprobes, regenerative abilities, and even the ability to adapt. It does not elaborate whether or not the Narada has transwarp capability.

The movie does not give a clear answer on whether the black hole created by the red matter has certain preference over what time-frame the Narada and Jellyfish were transported into. It is likely that Nero and older Spock were transported into the era of Commander Spock's and James T. Kirk's rise in Star Fleet to create a more interesting and intricate layer of plot. Realistically, if the black hole acted as a time machine, the likelihood of the Narada being transported exactly from the year 2387 to 2233 is infinitesimal as opposed to any other time at all. Additionally, Spock was transported in time from 2387 to 2258 (25 years after Nero arrived in 2233) This is a peculiar observation if we once again assume that a black hole is capable of time travel throughout any point in time.

George Takei (the original Sulu) explained to director J.J. Abrams that Sulu was intended to represent all of Asia, so the Korean-American John Cho was acceptable. At any rate, Sulu is not a Japanese surname. In the Japanese dubbing of the original series, he is depicted as a native of the Philippines.

Scotty refers to an accident while experimenting with the transporter, in which the prized beagle of Admiral Archer went missing, which caused him to be sent off to Delta Vega. This part of the movie is situated in the year 2258 AD. Jonathan Archer, who was the captain of the very first Starship Enterprise (NX-01) as seen in the series Star Trek: Enterprise, was born in 2112, and would have been well around 140 years old at the time of this incident. According to some unused script parts from Enterprise, Archer died in the year 2245 at the age of 133 years. Perhaps Scotty did not know Archer himself but only his surviving beagle. In any way, Archer must have reached an incredible age. This is not as impossible as it seems. Remember that this is the future, where Earth has established exchanges with other species, and medical science has advanced enough to cure cancer and significantly extend life spans. Dr. McCoy from The Original Series also made an inspection tour of the Enterprise NCC-1701D at the age of 137. Although, it is possible that Scotty might have been refering to another Admiral Archer, maybe a decendant of Johnathan's who shared his love of beagles. It's up to the individual movie-goer, really.

The answer is not readily available within the movie. One can surmise that Old Spock gave Kirk a quick synopsis of the events without going into too much detail. The only extraordinary detail he provides is that the supernova threatened the entire galaxy, letting us know this may not be a typical event. Again, the comic book prequel "Countdown" explains things somewhat, by showing firstly that the Romulans didn't believe Spock's prediction of the supernova's danger, and secondly that the star went nova before Spock thought it would and was far more powerful than he had predicted, reaching (and destroying) Romulus in a matter of hours instead of his prediction of a few weeks.

How does the movie end?

Spock succeeds in destroying the drill, but Nero orders that the Jellyfish be destroyed, even though it is carrying the red matter. Suddenly, the Enterprise appears from behind Titan. Spocks turns the Jellyfish on a collision course with the Narada. Meanwhile, Kirk has located Pike on the Narada. Just as the Jellyfish is about to hit the Narada, Scotty beams Spock, Kirk, and Pike aboard the Enterprise, and the Jellyfish and Narada collide, Kirk offers the Romulans assistance, but Nero refuses. 'I would rather die in agony than accept assistance from you,' he says. 'You got it,' Kirk replies and blows up the Narada as it slips into the black hole. When the Enterprise looks to be caught by the gravitational pull of the hole, Scotty saves her by ejecting and detonating the warp core. The blast pushes them out of range, and the Enterprise heads back to Earth. Back on Earth, old Spock urges young Spock to remain in Starfleet. Kirk is promoted to captain at a Starfleet assembly and given command of the Enterprise as Pike's relief. As Kirk takes the bridge, Spock boards the Enterprise and submits his candidacy for first officer. Kirk accepts. The final scene shows the Enterprise moving out to space while Old Spock says: 'Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new lifeforms and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no one has gone before.'

Yes. Star Trek, a novelization of the movie by Alan Dean Foster, was released in 2009.

Almost all of them, including many of the episodes of the original TV series. She played a dark-haired Number One to Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) in the 1966 Star Trek pilot episode, Star Trek: The Cage (#1.0). She then appeared as blonde-haired Nurse Christine Chapell in 33 of the 79 episodes of the original series, Star Trek (1966-1969), and portrayed Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis)'s eccentric mother, Lwaxana Troi, in numerous episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999). She portrayed Dr Christine Chapell in the first Star Trek movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), and again in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). Barrett also did several voices, including that of the Enterprise computer, in various episodes of the five TV series--those already mentioned plus Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001) and Enterprise (2001-2005)--as well as the Star Trek movies, including this one.

The difference is that the first black hole was created far away from any ship. After the initial red matter detonation, an implosion ensues which creates the black hole. A black hole is essentially a point where extreme gravitational forces converge. These forces are so strong that not even light can escape (hence the name 'black hole'). Normal space-time is distorted, which, in this new Star Trek, creates a 'tunnel' through space and time. When a ship enters a black hole from outside, it enters the tunnel, comes out of the other end, and will not be damaged. At least, this is how it works in the new Star Trek universe! The second red matter detonation occurs within the Narada, because Spock's ship had first penetrated the hull. The black hole is consequently created inside the Narada, causing her to be subject to the same devastating gravitational forces as was the planet Vulcan. So the Narada is actually imploding the second time, giving the crew members little to no chance of survival. When Nero destroys Vulcan, he triggers the red matter within the planet's core. Even if a wormhole is created each time the red matter is used, neither the crew of the Narada nor inhabitants of the planet Vulcan would survive, as both the vessel and the planet would be turned inside out in the process.

As many films and several Star Trek episodes have shown (perhaps most famously Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever (#1.28) and Star Trek: The Next Generation: Yesterday's Enterprise (#3.15)), the drawback of time travel is that it can have very big and extremely unpredictable effects. According to the chaos theory, even a seemingly trivial event can have serious long-term ramifications (also known as the 'butterfly effect'). With the appearance of Nero in the past, some fundamental changes have been introduced into the alternate timeline which will have corresponding effects. These include the destruction of the U.S.S. Kelvin and its crew, the destruction of most Starfleet starships and crew, and, perhaps most detrimental, the destruction of planet Vulcan and its inhabitants. Especially this last factor can be predicted to have tremendous consequences for the political stability of the quadrant. As for the effects that cannot be predicted, these include the absence of people and events that would have otherwise played a pivotal role in history. So as time goes by, the two timelines may diverge greatly due to the timeline changes.

The altered timeline and alternate universe explain why Nimoy's Spock will not have knowledge of all that will happen, but it does leave open the fact that he knows of technology, species, and discoveries that are in the future. Just as Scotty revealed future materials manufactured in The Voyage Home, and as Nimoy's Spock showed Mr. Scott about transwarp teleportation in this movie, there are things that Nimoy's Spock will know about new technologies or alien species (e.g., the Borg) that will be immensely beneficial to the Federation. However, it is clear from his short appearance in Star Trek Into Darkness that he has made a vow not to reveal any of these details, in order to not alter the new timeline any further; he only makes an exception when countless lives are at stake.

If you notice at the beginning of the film, when Nero first appears the tip of his right ear is intact, but 25 years later as he is waiting for Spock Prime to appear out of the black hole, his ear is scarred and the tip is missing. It was apparently lost during the time he spent in the Klingon prison, all scenes and dialogue relating to which have been cut from the film.

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