Star Trek into Darkness – the best Trek ever?

(Left to right) Chris Pine is Kirk and Bruce Greenwood is Pike in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions Photo Credit: Jaimie Trueblood © 2012 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

(Left to right) Chris Pine is Kirk and Bruce Greenwood is Pike in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions Photo Credit: Jaimie Trueblood © 2012 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

The folks behind Star Trek into Darkness really are spoiling us.

In December we were treated to an advance look at the film’s first nine minutes in glorious 3D, then last month we got some hands-on time with the new Star Trek video game and this week we learned UK fans would see the film a week before the US.

As if that’s not enough, this afternoon we joined a select group of film journalists for a second screening, this time being treated to the opening 28 minutes plus two action sequences from later in the film.

In December I wrote that the preview audience had wanted to “peek around the edges of the screen to see what comes next.” With our wishes at least partially granted today, it’s fair to say we were all thrilled by what we saw.

We’re going to rein in our excitement and keep spoilers to the absolute minimum here, largely only repeating those we divulged in December.

The first thing to report is that the order of the scenes we saw before Christmas have been swapped, meaning the film now opens with Kirk and Spock’s mission to save a planet and its inhabitants by freezing a volcano.

This gives the film a punchier opening and also sidesteps having an opening which was deeply and too much reminiscent of Star Trek V.

Speaking of past Trek films, Star Trek into Darkness has some nice nods to the movies and shows which went before, familiar names such as Daystrom and Kelvin make an appearance.

In addition, the Star Trek: The Motion Picture flag officer uniforms have been revived with a refreshed look which nicely complements the film’s take on William Ware Theiss’s original series designs.

The cast’s portrayals of the Enterprise crew seems more confident than first time around, and each seems so familiar that it’s easy to buy into the suggestion that they grow up to be William Shatner and co.

As for Benedict Cumberbatch, his portrayal of the film’s bad guy is so stunningly mesmerising that even if he turns out not to be Khan (as some fans suspect he really is), I predict the audience are going to love him anyway.

The action sequences defy spoiler-less description, it’ll have to suffice to say that they’re bigger, louder and more energetic than anything the franchise has offered before.

As with the December screening, today’s footage was introduced by JJ Abrams’ long time collaborator Bryan Burk who revealed that, with less than 8 weeks before it’s UK premiere, the film is still being edited and poured over “frame by frame”.

Assuming the rest of the film is as good as the bit we’ve seen, Star Trek into Darkness increasingly looks like the best Trek ever.