I started this dark, dull, and wet December morning in a very exciting way – enjoying a sneak preview of the first 9 minutes from J.J. Abrams’ eagerly-awaited Star Trek Into Darkness courtesy of Paramount and the BFI IMAX.
My thanks to both for their hospitality.
There are some unavoidable spoilers lurking below, but as always they’ve been kept to a minimum.
Star Trek Into Darkness starts somewhere no Trek film has ever begun – London. There’s a great CGI shot of a future London skyline in which Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral continues to outclass everything around it.
A child lays in hospital dying, her parents distraught, and then a mysterious stranger (Benedict Cumberbatch) tells the father (Noel Clarke) he can do what the doctors can’t and save her.
The scene ends before Cumberbatch’s character reveals his name – more on this later – and cuts to a Class M planet on which Kirk (Chris Pine) and McCoy (Karl Urban) are trying to outrun some angry indigenous lifeforms.
Meanwhile Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldaña) and Sulu (John Cho) are trying to save the planet and its inhabitants by freezing a volcano. Needless to say, things don’t go quite to plan and Spock ends up on the volcano as it’s about to go ‘hot’.
And that, apart from a brief montage of footage, is where the preview ends.
My Lord didn’t didn’t the invited audience wish it were possible to peek around the edges of the screen to see what comes next.
May 2013 suddenly seems a very long way away.
Cast & Crew Q&A
The preview was presented by Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve and JJ Abrams’ long time collaborator Bryan Burk who took part in a Q&A afterwards.
Officially Cumberbatch’s character is named John Harrison but the past few months have seen frenzied speculation that he’s really Khan, the genetically modified madman played by Ricardo Montalban in the original series and Star Trek II.
The recent revelation that Eve is plating Carol Marcus – Kirk’s old lover who was introduced in Star Trek II – has re-ignited that speculation.
Questioned by journalists this morning, both the actor and Burk stuck to the official line that he’s playing John Harrison. Not everyone was convinced.
Cumberbatch said his character was a complex “home grown terrorist” who does “bad things for good reasons” and suggested that during his journey audience would come to feel sympathy and sorrow for him.
Does that make it more or less likely he’s really Khan? Well Khan was the product of Earth science but in the original series he was a deposed ruler of vast lands, not really a terrorist.
Of course in Abrams’ rebooted timeline anything is possible, but if Harrison really is Khan it seems we’re set for a very different interpretation of him.
The footage we saw was in 3D, normally something I hate as much as I do reboots and remakes.
But just as Abrams’ 2009 Trek reboot surprised and delighted me, so his use of 3D for the sequel has neatly side-stepped my usual loathing of the technology,
Burk says Abrams was keen to push the boundaries of what 3D can deliver and has repeatedly urged his 3D artists to go beyond the limits that other filmmakers have worked within.
The result is breathtaking.
The chase sequence actually lives up to the oft-made claim for 3D that you’ll feel like you’re there. But despite years of hype, sitting in the BFI IMAX this morning was the first time I’ve ever had that promise delivered on.
And to see the Enterprise bridge in 3D was amazing, it truly does look glorious and I predict Trek fans are going to love seeing the heart of their world in a way no film has ever shown it before.
The footage is screening exclusively in IMAX 3D theatres from today.