This weekend saw some new and very exciting concept art hit the internet.
Coming in the form of designs for the USS Franklin, we now know there will be another Starfleet vessel making an appearance in Beyond along with the USS Enterprise. The poster above is being sent to those fans who donated to the Omaze charity fundraiser that ran alongside the making of the movie last year.
I first caught sight of this new design on Trekcore where they suggested a number of points surrounding the ship; that it will be seen early on in the movie following the destruction of the Enterprise and that we've also seen a fair bit of the Franklin in the first trailer. In fact Spock is wearing a Franklin jacket!
So this could make the Franklin the base of operations for the remaining crew who escaped and could well be the ship we've seen Sophia Boutella and Chris Pine climbing out of in behind the scenes stills. Of course they could be climbing out of the wrecked Enterprise saucer but this is all conjecture until later this year.
The arrival of the Franklin marks the third movie in a row where we've seen the introduction of a Federation starship besides the Enterprise and if it follows suit set by the Kelvin and the Vengeance it won't be in one piece come the end titles. So what does this new concept image tell us about the ship itself?
One thing we do know is that this isn't quite the final version as indicated by The Official Starship Collection's Ben Robinson in a tweet on Saturday. Now that would indicate that Ben has seen the finished article (of course) and that collectors of the series should be expecting to see it in the run of specials.
I'd suggest that the pennants will be altered since the ones on this image are more in line with the Prime Universe movies than the JJ-verse. The most noticable thing here though is that huge light source at the front of the saucer which would seem to be the viewscreen and gives an idea that this is a ship much smaller than both the USS Enterprise and the Kelvin. The edge of the saucer only has a single layer of portholes too and we know that the Enterprise has two decks at that point.
It also has the JJ-verse trademark blue bussard collectors and some odd orange lining detail along the warp engine struts. Those collectors do appear to have the "fan" style workings akin to those on the original NCC-1701. Saying that, the rear of the engines have a very familiar curve to them which fans might recognise from the Enterprise of The Original Series - nice touch there.
That front part of the engine even has a resemblance to the front end of the movie Enterprise secondary hull (but I'm no doubt reading far too much into this picture). The hull surface is pretty different too with the saucer dipping and then raising to the edge plus some sort of crazy hull panelling fanning out to the curve. Certainly not something we've seen before even in the Prime Universe.
But what period of Starfleet history is this supposed to represent? From the ramshackle nature of it's interior seen in the trailer and the grey exterior it does seem that the USS Franklin will be an older ship. Perhaps not as old as the Kelvin since the engines look to have evolved from that era but definitely with a few miles on the clock. Also of note and a reason for conjecture over her age is the fact that there is no registry number visible. Maybe that's because it hadn't been decided when this image was created or was it left off on purpose? OK, Vengeance didn't have a registry but that was for other reasons!
The great thing is that the Franklin is different again to the aging single engined Kelvin and the stealthy, angular design of the brutal Vengeance. How the ship appears on the screen may well be different to this image although I don't foresee too many changes if this is something they are sending out to charitable fans. It does add another dimension to the film in the possibility that the Franklin will be playing a larger role in Beyond than the Enterprise but with the fact the latter may well meet its maker early on that's not saying a lot.
So this makes the third ship we know will be in the movie alongside the Enterprise and those alien raider-type vessels glimpsed in the trailer hunting Spock and McCoy. Hopefully we're going to get some more! If nothing else the reboots have given us some interesting spacial additions to the franchise. I love the stealth elements and design of the Vengeance and now the Franklin is very much harking to the Prime origins of Star Trek and that would be in keeping with what we've been hearing from Simon Pegg about this movie respecting its past a lot more than the previous two.
Just to finish off - we saw the behind the scenes video from Entertainment Tonight a week or so ago. We got to see a bit more on the retro uniform styling, a bit of aging on the bridge - but was I the only one who wonders if Sulu's daughter is called Demora...?
Do you like the new starship design? Is it in keeping with the franchise?
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