Star Trek (2009) Beat Sheet
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Based on the television series created by Gene Roddenberry
Genre: Buddy Love
Opening Image: The camera moves along a metallic object with lights, revealing the USS Kelvin.
Set-Up: The Kelvin investigates what looks like a lightning storm in space, but discovers it to be a black hole. As the Romulan ship Narada emerges, it attacks the Kelvin before summoning Captain Robau aboard. Robau leaves George Kirk in charge and is questioned on the whereabouts of Ambassador Spock. Kirk’s command does not last long, as Robau is killed and the Kelvin is fired upon. Kirk evacuates as many people as he can via shuttles, including his pregnant wife. As Kirk pilots the Kelvin into the Narada, he listens over the intercom as his wife gives birth to his son: James Tiberius Kirk.
Years later, James Kirk demonstrates his rebellious streak as he steals his stepfather’s antique car and sends it off a cliff. On the planet Vulcan, a young Spock is teased because his mother is human. The other students tell him that he is neither fully human nor Vulcan and has no place in the universe.
Theme Stated: After Spock brawls with the boys, he is comforted by his father, who tells him, “You are fully capable of deciding your own destiny. The question is: what path will you choose?” This will be the focal point of the story: how do one’s choices affect the path his or her life will take, and how will those choices affect others?
Set-Up (continued): Years later, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is accepted to the Vulcan Science Academy but declines because of the insults his mother has faced. Instead, he joins Starfleet Academy. Meanwhile, in Iowa, James Kirk (Chris Pine) is in a stasis=death moment. Getting into a fight with other Starfleet recruits at a bar, he is rescued by Captain Pike, who talks to Kirk about the Kelvin and George Kirk’s heroism. Echoing the theme, Pike asks, “Do you feel like you were meant for something better? Something special?”
Catalyst: Pike invites Kirk to join Starfleet and to follow in the footsteps of his father. He tells Kirk that in George Kirk’s 12 minutes as captain, he saved 800 lives. “I dare you to do better,” Pike challenges. This is the catalyst that will propel Kirk from his thesis world, one in which he rejects responsibility.
Debate: Kirk ponders the challenge, and as he watches a starship being built in a field in Iowa, he realizes that maybe he was destined for something greater. He accepts the invitation. As he boards the shuttle to Starfleet Academy, he meets Leonard “Bones” McCoy, who lectures him on the dangers of space.
Three years later, Romulan captain Nero waits as a ship emerges from the black hole. Nero knows it is Spock and orders the ship be captured. Back at Starfleet, Kirk attempts the Kobayashi Maru simulation test for a third time. Even though it is supposed to be a no-win scenario, Kirk passes the test. The Kobayashi Maru’s programmer, Spock, launches an official inquiry and accuses Kirk of cheating. Kirk is placed on academic suspension. During the hearing, a distress call is received from the planet Vulcan, and the cadets are assigned to ships. Even though Kirk is now suspended, McCoy uses his status as a doctor to sneak Kirk aboard the USS Enterprise.
Break into Two: Now on board the USS Enterprise, Kirk has entered his antithesis world. Here, he will learn that his choices affect the destiny of others.
B Story: Spock is on board the Enterprise, too. He and Kirk will learn that their destinies are intertwined. Their friendship is the key to their future victories, relying on each other in times of great need and in the face of great fear.
Fun and Games: Captain Pike orders the Enterprise to enter warp speed with the other ships, but helmsman Sulu has difficulty doing this, and the Enterprise falls behind the other ships. Kirk overhears that Vulcan is experiencing seismic activity after a lightning storm, which triggers his memory of the Kelvin. He races to the bridge to warn Captain Pike that they are entering a trap. As they exit warp speed and arrive at Vulcan, the Enterprise navigates through a sea of destroyed starships, seeing the Romulan ship ahead of them.
When Nero sees the name “Enterprise” on the ship’s hull, he realizes that a young Spock is on board and demands that Pike board the Narada. Pike leaves Spock in command with Kirk as first officer. Kirk, Sulu, and an engineer skydive to the drill that is boring a hole in Vulcan and stop it, but Sulu falls to the planet below. Kirk dives after him, and they are beamed aboard the Enterprise at the last second.
Even though the drill has been stopped, it has reached the planet’s core. Nero launches red matter into it, creating a black hole to devour the planet.
Midpoint: As Vulcan collapses, Spock beams down to save the Vulcan High Council and his parents. It is a false victory, though, as defeat immediately sets in: Spock’s mother does not make it. For the first time, Kirk begins to feel empathy for Spock as A and B Stories cross.
Bad Guys Close In: Vulcan and its six billion inhabitants are swallowed by the black hole as Spock watches. Nero interrogates Pike, blaming the Federation for allowing Romulus to be destroyed and plans to destroy all other Federation planets, starting with Earth. Internal Bad Guys Close In on the crew of the Enterprise as Kirk and Spock clash. Spock notes that because Nero came back through time and destroyed the Kelvin, he has created an alternate timeline. Kirk’s insubordination is cause for banishment, and Spock sends him to icy planet of Delta Vega.
While making his way to a Federation outpost, Kirk encounters dangerous creatures and is saved by Spock, but not the Spock he knows. This is Spock Prime, the Spock from the future. Spock is surprised that Kirk is not captain. Mind-melding with Kirk, he reveals why Nero wants revenge and how they arrived in the past. Kirk is surprised to discover that Spock can feel emotion. Spock tells Kirk that he must regain control of the Enterprise, and the only way to do this is to cause his younger self to lose control of his emotions, making him unfit for command. Spock leads Kirk to Scotty at the outpost, and the two transwarp-beam aboard the Enterprise where they are apprehended and brought before Spock.
All Is Lost: Even though it pains him to do so, Kirk taunts Spock about the loss of his mother, shouting, “You never loved her!” It is too much for Spock, and he assaults Kirk in a rage. All is lost for Spock as he resigns control of the Enterprise. The whiff of death is in the air for Spock as he seems to have lost the part of himself that is Vulcan. All is lost for Kirk, too, as he realizes that he caused Spock such pain.
Dark Night of the Soul: Spock is conflicted that he had not been able to restrain his emotion, but his father tells him that he will always be a child of two worlds. Spock embraces his human side and rejoins Kirk and the crew. He knows that his destiny is to be a part of both worlds, the theme echoing as A and B Stories meet.
Break into Three: Both Spock and Kirk have learned that they must work together, the synthesis of their journey.
Finale: Kirk and Spock beam aboard the Narada, rescuing Captain Pike. Spock obtains the red matter and destroys the drill before it can reach Earth’s core. Spock sends the red matter toward the Narada as the three of them are beamed onto the Enterprise. Evidence of Kirk and Spock’s journey through the Transformation Machine is clear as they stand in solidarity and hail the Narada. They offer Nero a final chance, but his choice has determined his fate. He disappears into the black hole with his ship.
Back at Starfleet Academy, Spock Prime meets young Spock and reveals his identity. He tells Spock that he and Kirk will need each other and will have a friendship that will define them in ways Spock does not yet realize. Kirk receives a commendation and relieves Pike of his command, himself becoming Captain of the USS Enterprise.
Final Image: As the Enterprise crew sets out on their journey, Spock Prime narrates the famous Star Trek opening, “Space: the final frontier…” as the Enterprise launches into warp speed.
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Thank you for the wonderful beat sheet for this Star Trek film! Nimoy will be missed.