We were fortunate enough to catch an extended look at some footage from Star Trek Into Darkness, comprising the opening 28 minutes and two later sequences.
At the BFI IMAX on London’s South Bank, producer Bryan Burk introduced the 2D clips, as Abrams suffered from a particularly bad hair day holed up in the edit suite (as he was keen to point out in his video intro).
Here’s our initial reaction to what we saw. Bear in mind that this piece is EXTREMELY SPOILERY, so back away now if you want to go in cold.
Right, still here? Then we’ll begin
The opening 28 minutes kicked off with the nine-minute prologue we’ve already seen (check out the full reaction), although it had been recut slightly. Now, the film opens with the high-octane mission set in and around a volcano on an unevolved planet, before showing Benedict Cumberbatch’s villain making a Faustian pact with Noel Clarke’s concerned father.
Perhaps the order of the scenes has been flipped so that the film opens with a bang. Whatever the reason, the footage did seem to come with one primary message: Star Trek Into Darkness is going to be action-packed.
Continuing on from where the prologue left off, we see that Spock survives the opening mission in the volcano. It’s a close call (and, as he states, he believes “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”), but he manages to activate a cold-fusion thingumybob that freezes the lava surge mid-eruption.
The rest of the crew make their escape on the Enterprise, and the iconic ship is glimpsed by the planet’s undeveloped inhabitants (who then begin worshipping it). In fact, the way the Nibiru locals gather round a drawing of the ship is one of the two 2001: A Space Odyssey echoes we noticed today.
When Kirk and Spock are taken to task by Pike for their mission gone awry (Spock filed a full report), their sparky odd-couple banter is still in full flow, and surprisingly doesn’t get lost under the weight of action set-pieces. Pike strips Kirk of his captaincy and instates him as a First Mate. Spock might get some of the best lines (“Pointy? Is that a derogatory term?”), but it’s clear that this is Kirk’s story again.
Aping the 2009 film, Kirk is caught in the midst of some inter-species lovin’ (with two alien babes this time, both of whom sport tails), and later drowns his sorrows in bar with an on-the-rocks whisky and a fatherly talking-to from Pike.
He also gets opportunities to prove his instinctive smarts…
Noel Clarke’s character, a Starfleet engineer, receives some sort of blood transfusion from Cumberbatch’s John Harrison, restoring his daughter to full strength. In return, he marches into work with a hidden explosive device, and suicidally decimates his place of work (presumably fulfilling his bargain with Harrison). Such is the scale of the film, that Abrams can linger on photo of the surviving daughter, while off on the horizon, the explosion rents a hole in London.
Peter Weller’s Admiral Marcus (Carol’s dad?) calls an emergency meeting of Captains and First Mates. While looking at a tech screen that's like some kind of futuristic Google Maps, Kirk realises why Harrison caused that particular explosion. It was to get all of the Captains and First Mates in one room...
No sooner does Kirk put two and two together, then Harrison appears in a fighter craft outside the building. Blasting the windows with lasers (and taking out several personnel, including a hit-badly Pike), Harrison’s only stopped by Kirk’s resourceful fight back. As the craft crashes to the ground, and Harrison beams out of the cockpit, the opening 28 minutes draws to a close…
The next scene, shown out of context, featured a battle-scarred Enterprise crashing towards Earth. Kirk and Scotty dash along the corridors to the engine room in an action sequence that feels like 2001's jogging through the revolving corridor multiplied by Inception’s gravity-troubled hotel floor. And Anton Yelchin’s Chekov gets a chance to shine. The scene also reveals Spock as the acting Captain.
The final scene we saw began with the Enterprise crash-landing on Earth, and destroying Alcatraz in the process (a subtle meta-reference from J.J.?) From there Spock pursues Harrison in a breathless foot chase, following him through glass panes and on top of flying vehicles. After a scrap, Harrison takes a mid-air leap onto another of his fleet of getaway craft (lumbering mechanical beasts, unlike his slick fighter craft from the earlier attack). Spock follows him, judging the timing before taking a leap after Harrison. Abrams’ judicious cutting meant we didn’t find out if Spock made it…
All in all, we’re left expecting a breathless action ride, with plenty of characterisation amid the carnage. And Cumberbatch’s actual role? We’re still none the wiser.
Star Trek Into Darkness opens in the UK on 9 May 2013, a week earlier than previously scheduled. It opens in the US on 17 May 2013.
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