After production on the film was completed, and a month before the film's release, Anton Yelchin died in a freak vehicle accident. During the ending credits, there is a dedication that reads, "For Anton."
Simon Pegg identified the space station as "Starbase Yorktown" in early interviews. "Yorktown" was the original name of the starship in Gene Roddenberry's early script treatments for the original Star Trek (1966) series, before this was changed to "Enterprise."
Simon Pegg revealed in a press conference that the character Jaylah was inspired by Jennifer Lawrence in the film Winter's Bone (2010). "We were trying to create this very independent character, but we didn't have a name for it," Pegg said. "So we just called it 'Jennifer-Lawrence-In-Winter's-Bone.'" "That's a long name," the writer and actor joked. "So it started getting tiring always saying, well Jennifer-Lawrence-In-Winter's-Bone is fighting here. So then we started calling her J-Law, and then she became Jaylah."
When Kirk and crew first enter Yorktown's reception area, an announcement can be heard over the intercom referring to a starship with the registry number NCC-2893 just arriving. This is a reference to the U.S.S. Stargazer (NCC-2893), the first ship that Captain Jean-Luc Picard commanded on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987).
Alice Eve does not return as Dr. Carol Marcus. During this film, she is not mentioned, and her absence is unexplained. In the ending of the previous film, Carol became a member of the Enterprise crew, and joined them on their five-year mission.
A reference is made to the episode Star Trek: The Trouble with Tribbles (1967): When McCoy remarks to Kirk that he "took this from Chekov's locker" (referring to the bottle of alcohol), Kirk responds to the effect "I would have pegged Chekov as a vodka man.", as both are surprised by the type of alcohol that Chekov drinks. This is confirmed as Scotch in the final party scene, when Chekov remarks that "It was invented by a little old lady in Russia". In the original episode, Chekov and Scotty sit in the Space Station K-7 bar, as Scotty states that Chekov "get off that milk diet" and have Scotch instead, since it was "a drink for a man". Chekov replies that "it was invented by a little old lady from Leningrad".
In the opening scene, Captain Kirk is suddenly attacked by hoards of small aliens. After being beamed back to the Enterprise, he remarks: "I ripped my shirt again." This is a playful jab at the original series, in which Kirk routinely ended up with a ripped shirt on away missions (sometimes losing his shirt altogether).
When Captain Kirk asks Sulu if he can fly the U.S.S. Franklin, Sulu turns and says, rather incredulously "Are you kidding me?" Repeating a line, with the same expression and tone, that Captain Sulu (George Takei) used, in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991).
According to Zachary Quinto, while he greatly enjoys the character Spock, he has mentioned that he is ready to move on from the role and venture into other projects. However, he has stated that he fully plans to finish out his contractual obligations in playing the role of Spock, and seeing where his character's journey goes in the trilogy. Quinto (just like the rest of his main co-stars) signed on for a three-picture deal, which makes this film his last contractual commitment towards the role of Spock. However, he has since signed on for a fourth movie.
The first Star Trek film ever to be shot primarily in Vancouver, British Columbia, and not in Hollywood. All existing sets, including those of the U.S.S. Enterprise, were rebuilt from scratch, in a large studio in Vancouver.
Simon Pegg and Justin Lin made the decision of making Sulu gay, as a nod to George Takei, who has since become a prominent LGBT rights activist. However, Takei has since stated his disagreement with this decision as that was not Gene Roddenberry's intention for the character of Hikaru Sulu.
Throughout Star Trek history, we have heard about warp fields or a static warp bubble, but in this movie you actually get to see this, when the Enterprise is warping. The ship's nacelles create a warp field that surrounds the ship and moves the space around the ship, while actually the ship is standing still. Warp drive has been considered like riding a surf board in many articles. The ship does not move, but space around it does. Scotty even says this in Star Trek (2009), when he mentions in his transwarp theory, he never thought of space to be the thing that was moving.
J.J. Abrams declined to return to direct the third film, because of his directorial obligations on Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015). However, Abrams stayed on as a Producer while Screenwriter Roberto Orci, one of the writers of the first two installments of the current franchise, was initially chosen to direct this film.
In August 2014, it was announced that Paramount Pictures had pushed back the film's release in time for the 50th Anniversary celebration of the late Gene Roddenberry's original series, Star Trek (1966).
The motorcycle featured in this film is referred to as a "Hilts PX70". According to Simon Pegg (who, in addition to starring in this film, was also one of its screenwriters), it is named after Steve McQueen's character in The Great Escape (1963). According to Pegg, the filmmakers thought the name would be "a nice irony, in it being used to get into a prison camp rather than get out".
The Franklin's dedication plaque lists it as a Starship class vessel. This was the original class of the Enterprise from the pilot of Star Trek (1966), before this was changed to the canon Constitution class. Some references in Star Trek lore, such as technical manuals and novels, still refer to the original Enterprise as a Starship class. The name Constitution class was only ever mentioned by the characters twice, in the episodes Star Trek: The Next Generation: Relics (1992) (which guest starred James Doohan, the original Scotty) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Trials and Tribble-ations (1996).
This is Greg Grunberg's second Star Trek film in the current franchise, but only his first on-screen appearance as Commander Finnegan. He played young James T. Kirk's stepfather in Star Trek (2009). However, only his voice was heard in the antique convertible that Kirk drives off the cliff.
In a July 2016 interview in New York magazine, John Cho said that it was important to him for Sulu's husband, Ben, to be Asian also: "Early on I said to Justin Lin, 'Dude, it would be important to me to have an Asian husband.' Basically, it was a little Valentine to the gay Asian friends that I grew up with. This may be presumptuous, but I always felt the Asian gay men that I knew had much heavier cultural-shame issues. This is probably more so for my generation than for yours [meaning New York interviewer E. Alex Jung], but I felt like those guys didn't date Asian men because of that cultural shame. So I wanted it to seem really normal in the future. I thought that would be the most normal thing, that there was zero shame in the future. I don't know if that hit or not, but it was something that I felt in my gut and asked for that... Justin was [receptive]. There was talk of, 'Should he have a human husband?' So it went that far. I wanted that relationship to feel super familiar, you know what I'm saying? I didn't want to push the difference envelope; I just wanted it to be very, very traditional looking. There was something about this pairing that would seem very old-fashioned, and then something about it to gay men that would be radical." Cho also said that it was very hard to find an East Asian actor in Dubai (where they were shooting) who would agree to play a gay man: "We had a guy and then his parents really objected. Basically, we couldn't find an Asian actor willing to play gay in Dubai is my understanding." So they ended up enlisting the co-screenwriter Doug Jung, who is not a professional actor, to play the role.
In this film, James T. Kirk applies for promotion to Vice Admiral, which he turns down, because which he wishes to remain a Captain. This is a nod to the earlier Star Trek films. In Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), Kirk has been promoted to Admiral following the five-year mission. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Kirk remained an Admiral, and was having a midlife crisis, McCoy believed that Kirk missed being a Captain and exploring the universe and advised Kirk to get back command of the Enterprise. In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Kirk lost the rank of Admiral and became a Captain again for his actions in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), in which Kirk disobeyed a direct order from Admiral Morrow to go to the Genesis Planet and recover Spock's body, where he hijacked and blew up the Enterprise. In Star Trek Generations (1994), Kirk gave Captain Jean-Luc Picard advice on promotion, and tells him not to let Starfleet promote him, and not let anything take him away from the Captain's chair, because while he's there, he can make a difference.
Among the many references to the earlier series, Star Trek: Enterprise (2001) was referenced when the U.S.S. Franklin was described having polarized hull plating (instead of shields), spatial torpedoes (original versions), and plasma cannons. Other references to the prequel series include mentioning the Xindi and the MACOs.
There is a reference to Star Trek: The Lights of Zetar (1969) during the deleted scene, where Scotty and Kirk have just arrived at Starbase Yorktown. After being asked for a drink by Kirk, Scotty says he is already going for a drink with "Lieutenant Romaine", so Kirk declines. Lieutenant Mira Romaine was a woman, with whom Scotty fell in love, during "The Lights of Zetar".
James T. Kirk turned thirty years old in this movie. In Star Trek (2009), Captain Robau told the Romulans that the current stardate was 22.33.04. That was the date of George Kirk's death and James T. Kirk's birth. James T. Kirk's Captain's log in this movie, reveals the current stardate 22.63.04.
PRODUCER TRADEMARK (J.J. Abrams): (Kelvin): When the Enterprise crew are ordered to abandon ship, Captain Kirk says, "Get in your Kelvin Pods!" This is a reference to Abrams' grandfather and role model, Harry Kelvin. This could also reference the U.S.S. Kelvin, as seen in Star Trek (2009), or a nod to the Kelvin Timeline, a name given to the reboot trilogy, named for the former.
At one point, towards the climax of the film, Spock is giving a detailed explanation. Kirk interrupts him saying "Spock, skip to the end." This is a reference by Simon Pegg to his sitcom Spaced (1999), in which Tim Bisley (Pegg) cuts off Daisey Steiner (Jessica Hynes) saying the line "skip to the end", once in each season of the series.
Dr. McCoy and Captain Kirk share an early birthday drink where McCoy toasts to perfect eyesight. This is a nod to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), where McCoy give Kirk glasses for his birthday.
This film takes place in March 2263. In that year, the following events happened in the original timeline: Ben Childress, Herm Gossett, and Benton partner up to establish a mining company on Rigel XII (This was shown in Star Trek: Mudd's Women (1966)). One hundred fifty men, women, and children, led by a man called Elias Sandoval, depart Earth and travel to Omicron Ceti III, to establish the future Omicron colony (this was shown in Star Trek: This Side of Paradise (1967)). A child Lactran, who later was encountered by the U.S.S. Enterprise landing party in 2269, is born on Lactra VII (this was shown in Star Trek: The Animated Series: The Eye of the Beholder (1974)).
On the original Star Trek (1966) series, at the end of the introductory speech, narrated by William Shatner at the beginning of each episode, is "to boldly go where no man has gone before." On Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987), narrated by Patrick Stewart, it was substituted for the words "to boldly go where no one has gone before", in an effort to be more gender-neutral and race-neutral. In this feature, the otherwise introductory speech is moved to the end and narrated by multiple members of the cast, the last bit ("to boldly go where no one has gone before") being spoken by a female character, Lieutenant Uhura, portrayed by Zoe Saldana.
(At nine minutes and thirty-three seconds) There is a scene in which two trains pass by, and the frame cuts to an Orion child. This is Justin Lin's son, who he used in his previous Fast and Furious films. The scene where Dom and Brian are pulling the safe, and the scene where Letty is racing Dom in London, respectively.
The high-tech looking gate latch that Jaylah fires at to free the Enterprise crew is actually a multi ganged synchronizer. It is a mechanical device that film editors use to sync up film and soundtrack strips for 35 millimeter film. It is a series of large film sprockets with spring loaded arms with rollers to hold the film securely on the sprockets as editor's feed film through the synchronizer.
The little girl seen with Hikaru Sulu and his partner at Starbase Yorktown is Sulu's daughter Demora. In Star Trek Generations (1994), Demora Sulu was the helmsman aboard the Enterprise-B, and continued her father's legacy.
With the release of this film, all three "main villains" in the Star Trek reboot series have been played by an actor who has also portrayed a Marvel Comics superhero on film. Eric Bana from Star Trek (2009) had previously portrayed Dr. Bruce Banner in Hulk (2003). Benedict Cumberbatch has portrayed Dr. Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange (2016). Idris Elba had previously portrayed Heimdall in Thor (2011) and its follow-ups.
Spock Prime's off-screen death marks the second time the character has died, after Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). This also means that he has predeceased his father both times, as we are given no indication that Sarek has died. Paradoxically, this means Spock has both outlived, and been outlived by, his own father. Sarek died in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987). Given that Amanda Grayson never appeared on that series, and Sarek is shown with a new wife, one can also assume that Spock has lived through his mother's death twice.
In July 2016, it was announced online that Chris Hemsworth would return as Lieutenant George Kirk in Star Trek 4. This is most likely the fourth film that will be released in 2019 to mark the tenth anniversary of Star Trek (2009).
Kirk states in his log that they are on their "966th day in deep space - A little under three years into our five-year mission". The original Star Trek (1966) series ran for only three seasons, from September 8, 1966 until June 3, 1969 (two years, eight months, twenty-five days, also "a little under three years") before being cancelled. Clearly implying that the film is intended to form the latter part of the rest of five-year mission that wasn't "previously" wasn't televised.
In this film, Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) makes a comment about the medical equipment on the U.S.S. Franklin being from the dark ages. This is a reference to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) when Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) visits a hospital in 1986 San Francisco, he makes the same comment about the treatment of patients.
The first Star Trek film to be directed by a director who was born after the year the original Star Trek (1966) series aired. J.J. Abrams was born a few months after the first episode aired on television, while Justin Lin was born four years after the series ended.
This film shows a romantic relationship between Spock and Uhura. On the original Star Trek (1966) series, Spock and Nurse Chapel are shown to have a romantic inclination towards one another. Through the original series, Spock can be seen having romantic relationships with several guest stars.
Scotty mentions that the USS Franklin "went missing in the Gagarin Radiation Belt in the early 2160s". This (albeit fictional) spatial anomaly is named for Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut who was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961. As such, the USS Franklin went missing in the Gagarin Radiation Belt almost exactly 200 years after its namesake's historic flight.
When Spock is looking at Spock Prime's history, this mentions his Starfleet record. Spock Prime was second officer of the Enterprise in the original pilot episode Star Trek: The Cage (1966). Majel Barrett was "Number One" or the first officer. Spock was the first officer under James T. Kirk for the rest of the original Star Trek (1966) series.
In this film, Captain Kirk tells Commodore Paris "Where's the fun in that?" when he learns (already knows?) that promotion to Vice Admiral would not involve flying a starship. In Star Trek Generations (1994), Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner) dies helping Captain Picard. He agrees to helping by saying, "Sounds like fun." As he dies, he tells Picard, "It was fun."
Uhura and Sulu escape from their prison cell when Scotty's little friend Keenser (Deep Roy) coughs green phlegm that dissolves the locking mechanism. This is a nod to a much more ferocious alien who bleeds a similar body fluid.
The second Star Trek film which the saucer section of the Enterprise crash lands on a planet when the ship is severely damaged in an attack. In Star Trek Generations (1994), the Enterprise-D saucer section crash lands on Verdian III when the ship is destroyed by a Klingon Bird-of-Prey. In this film, the Enterprise saucer section crash lands on Altamid when the ship is attacked and destroyed by Krall and his ships.
This film's plot is almost similar to a rejected outline for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), which was written by Walter Koenig, which Spock and the new Enterprise crew are captured by a race of worm-like aliens and Captain Kirk and the old crew are forced out of retirement to rescue them.
The music video for the film's original song "Sledgehammer" was the first to be shot entirely with IMAX cameras. The video features Rihanna dressed in a science fiction costume performing magic by moving boulders. At the video's ending, Rihanna turns into a celestial goddess face to face with the U.S.S. Enterprise.
The shift in Sulu's sexual orientation caused a stir among fans. George Takei, who played Sulu on the original series, and who is gay and a strong proponent of gay rights, disagreed with this shift, saying that the character Sulu had always been straight.
Zachary Quinto and Greg Grunberg both starred together on Heroes (2006), although they have no scenes together in this movie. This also connects this franchise with the original series and films as George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu, and Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, have also guest-starred on Heroes (2006).
The second film which Captain Kirk is stranded on a planet - In Star Trek (2009), Spock marooned Kirk on the ice planet Delta Vega which Kirk meets Spock Prime whom has also been stranded on Delta Vega by Nero and they met Scotty at a Starfleet outpost on the planet.
Enemy Mine (1985) has been considered a possible influence behind this film, where the U.S.S. Enterprise crew are stranded on an alien planet when they are attacked by hostile natives. Although this seems unlikely, because the film in question was about two enemy pilots marooned on a deserted planet.
It's unclear about why Carol Marcus wasn't with the Enterprise crew in this movie. There are a few possibilities: Carol Marcus may had gotten reassigned to another mission or assignment by Starfleet Command and departed the Enterprise or Carol Marcus may had elected to remain behind on a planet or Carol Marcus may had taken a vacation and took a break from the five-year mission.
The title of the movie is Star Trek Beyond. In the original series, Gene Roddenberry added lyrics to the theme song. The first word is "beyond". "Beyond the rim of the starlight / My love is wandering in starflight / I know he'll find in star-clustered reaches / Love, strange love a star woman teaches. / I know his journey ends never / His star trek will go on forever. / But tell him while he wanders his starry sea / Remember, remember me."
This marks the fifth collaboration between Justin Lin and Costume Designer Sanja Milkovic Hays after working together before in the Fast and the Furious films. This is also the second time Hays has been involved on a Star Trek film, after working on Star Trek: Insurrection (1998).
Jaylah bares similarities to Lara Croft in the video game Tomb Raider (2013). Jaylah is stranded on Altamid which on the planet, she was captured by Krall, but later escaped. On the planet, Jaylah learned to survive by scavenging and setting up traps in the area and became a formidable warrior skilled in martial arts. When Jaylah meets Scotty and the Enterprise crew, they manage to rescue the other prisoners and escape. Paramount Pictures produced and released Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and its sequel Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) starring Angelina Jolie.
Simon Pegg claimed that he based the character Jaylah after Jennifer Lawrence's character Ree from Winter's Bone (2010). In that film, Ree goes off across the mountain wilderness in search of her criminal father whom has vanished. In this film, Jaylah whom is stranded on Altamid, escaped being imprisoned from Krall whom murdered her father.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
According to Idris Elba in a Facebook live chat with Zoe Saldana, the black eye that Chris Pine has in the final fight scene with Idris Elba is not make-up. It's a real black eye that Pine got when they got a little too rough during filming.
Zachary Quinto brought real emotion to the scenes in which Spock learns that Spock Prime has died, and talks about him. Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy were good friends in real-life, and Nimoy was Quinto's mentor, and Quinto was handpicked by Leonard Nimoy to play the current incarnation of Spock.
When Jaylah turns on the music, Kirk's face lights up to the strains of "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys and he says "that's a good choice". This is a nod to Star Trek (2009), when a young delinquent Kirk is driving his stepfather's convertible and runs the car off a cliff during a chase with authorities. The song on the car's radio is "Sabotage".
Krall is revealed to have been a MACO soldier. He claims to have fought the Xindi. Both were first introduced on the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise (2001). His reference to fighting during the Romulan conflict as well hints at the unused plotline for the series' unfilmed fifth season.
Despite being the third movie of the new franchise, this movie marks the second time the Enterprise has been destroyed, rebuilt, and christened "NCC-1701-A". The first was Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), where the original 1701 was destroyed, and rebuilt with "1701-A", which made its appearance in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986).
In the previous two movies, there were only subtle references to the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise (2001), which takes place one hundred twelve years prior to Star Trek Beyond (2016). Captain Jonathan Archer was mentioned in Star Trek (2009), and a model of his ship was seen in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). However, this movie features quite a few substantial connections. Scotty mentions MACO (Military Assault Command Operations), which was a military unit in the last two seasons of the series. Krall was a member of the MACOs back when he was still Balthazar Edison, before being given the U.S.S. Franklin. He mentions the Xindi and Romulan Wars when fighting against James T. Kirk at Yorktown. The Xindi storyline was featured in the third season of the series, and this implies that Edison was one of the MACOs on board the Enterprise NX-01, the namesake starship from the series. The Romulan Wars were supposed to be featured in the series' fifth season, before it got cancelled. The design and size of the U.S.S. Franklin is very close to the Enterprise NX-01, and the uniforms that its crew can be seen wearing on the video look much closer to the blue jumpsuits featured on Star Trek: Enterprise. Scotty mentions that the transporters on the Franklin were only used for cargo. Indeed, the Enterprise NX-01 was the first ship with a transporter system that was cleared for use by living beings, so, older ships would not have had those. Like the Enterprise NX-01, the U.S.S. Franklin has polarized hull plating, instead of deflector shields, as well as phase cannons and conventional torpedoes, instead of phasers and photon torpedoes. Lastly, the U.S.S. Franklin is mentioned to be a Warp 4 vessel. By the time Edison became her captain, the ship must have been older than ten years, and most starships were at least Warp 5 or higher by then. Being offered an obsolete cargo ship could have added to Edison's feeling of abandonment by the Federation.
William Shatner confirmed that he would not be making nor been asked to make a cameo appearance in the film to mark the 50th anniversary of the original series. However, he appears in a photo at the film's ending, together with the rest of the original Enterprise crew. The group photo belongs to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), that coincidentally was directed by William Shatner.
The Enterprise underwent a "saucer separation" maneuver, first introduced on the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987). The separated saucer section then crash lands on a planet in a similar fashion to the Enterprise-D in Star Trek Generations (1994).
In this movie, there is a discussion between Scotty and Bones regarding having to beam him and Spock back to an old ship one at a time since the obsolete transporter may have spliced him and Spock together. Bones replied that he hated the prospect of splicing himself with Spock, which was a reference to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), in which Spock had mind-melded with Bones, before sacrificing himself to save the Enterprise.
Because of Spock Prime's trip to his own past in the first movie, the pad given to young Spock at the beginning of this movie shows Spock Prime's age at the time of his death as only thirty-three years old, when in fact he was one hundred sixty-two years old.
Near the film's ending, when the USS Franklin is used to stop Krall's ship in the center of Starbase Yorktown, Captain Kirk, Uhura, Scotty and Jaylah watch the final log of Captain Balthazar Edison, in which he details that only three crew members remain, and they found a way to prolong life from alien technology left on the planet. The only other aliens from the planet that are seen, are the female alien who leads the Enterprise crew to the planet, and is killed when the ship flips on her, and Krall's second-in-command who stays behind to fight Jaylah, and Kirk while Krall carries out the attack. Later on, the last photos seen of the crew of the Franklin when the missing case is closed, is Captain Edison with one female and one male member. They are the other two "aliens" who worked alongside Krall, using the alien machine to prolong their lives, and disfiguring themselves to have a similar appearance to Krall.
When Krall and Kirk are battling at Starbase Yorktown at the film's ending, Edison (Krall) mentions watching millions of people perish in "the Xindi and Romulan wars". This is a reference to the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise (2001) with Scott Bakula playing the commander of the first Enterprise ever built in canon, beginning in the year 2151. The ship was designated NX-01. Scotty also mentions the MACOs when talking about Edison's past. The MACOs were the military personnel that accompanied the NX-01 crew during the Xindi war. The Romulan war that Edison mentioned, took place three years after the Xindi War, and was supposed to have been shown on Star Trek: Enterprise (2001). The storyline was even beginning to come to fruition, but the series was cancelled before this could be created. Official series canon dictates that the Romulan wars took place from 2156 to 2160 (one hundred three years prior to this movie, which takes place in 2263). However, prior to, and during these wars, there was never any visual contact between humans and Romulans, or this information was lost. We know this because in Star Trek: Balance of Terror (1966) (taking place in 2266), upon encountering the Romulans, the Enterprise crew was astonished to see the resemblance they have to Vulcans. However, in Star Trek (2009), which takes place in the altered Kelvin Timeline, the crew already learned of the Romulans' true appearance in the year 2258.
The film's main villains (Krall, Manas and Kalara) were humans, but their DNA has been altered by using technology from a planet's indigenous extinct species (similar to the Borg featured on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) and Star Trek: Voyager (1995)). This also holds true with Charles Evans in Star Trek: Charlie X (1966), where an alien race did raise a human, but the catch is that his DNA was not altered, he used telekinetic powers provided by the Thasians to help him survive on their homeworld, but his powers were too dangerous to allow him to live among other humans.
The opening scene, where there is a visual gag about the relative sizes of the aliens and Kirk, is likely a reference to a backstory in the original novel "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", where an entire alien fleet is swallowed by a pet dog.
After the Enterprise saucer section has crashed, when Krall's bees are seen swarming across the sky in circling formations, the camera pans across a towering mountain in the background, forming an image highly reminiscent of the cover of 1973 French science fiction comic book classic "Valérian: Les oiseaux du maitre" (The Birds of the Master), in which the Master maroons and enslaves several space-travelling races, who as a measly reward for their hard work, receive a nutrient called "Klaar". In addition, Yorktown has more than a passing similarity to Point Central of the Valérian series.
There are possible references to Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977): When Krall is flying his swarm ship through Yorktown with two others flanking him is reminiscent of Darth Vader flying his TIE fighter with two others flanking him while defending the Death Star, and the design of the Yorktown Central Plaza shows similarity to the design of the Death Star itself.