Star Trek Into Darkness: press conference report
Along with a nine-minute footage preview, James heard what the cast and crew of Star Trek Into Darkness have to say about the film...
Following the release of the first trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness and our viewing of the nine-minute preview attached to The Hobbit, Den of Geek had the good fortune to attend a press conference conducted by live link-up to Los Angeles where Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, JJ Abrams and Benedict Cumberbatch were waiting to answer our questions.
Sadly, the questions were moderated, so our suggestions of "What made you decide to use Khan?", "How did you approach the use of Khan?" and "Why won't you just admit Khan's in the film? Come on! Admit it!" were sadly unacknowledged by the director and cast.
Cumberbatch received the first question, asking what appealed to him about his character on the page. His reply focused on the idea that Harrison had relatable goals in mind, rather than a nebulous evil quality, and even a certain about of nobility to his actions. "He wasn't just a badass," he said, "Although he is a badass". Cumberbatch didn't mince words, though, stating that "He's a terrorist, someone who does extraordinarily bad things, but with good intentions. He has pride in a purpose" and alluded that his was a goal "that mirrors Kirk's mission". Whatever that might mean.
Notably, at one point Abram's mimed reaching over and covering Cumberbatch's mouth, as if to stop him revealing too much information about his character, and at no point in the entire conference did anyone except Abrams say the word "Harrison". As for the idea that the name's just a smokescreen for a more familiar character's name, be that Khan, Mitchell, or something else… well, let's just say the theory wasn't undermined by anything we heard here.
Questioned about how he felt about the film's conversion to 3D, and how he adapted his style. Abrams admitted that he was "not a big fan" of 3D at the start of the process, but after the studio said "in order to make this movie, you've got to do this in 3D" he decided to give it a go, and in the end had "a lot of fun" with the technology. He rubbished ideas that post-conversions were artistically and visually inferior to films that were shot in 3D, saying that doing the 3D afterwards gives you a lot more freedom, and noted that all of the exteriors, including those in space, were either shot or rendered in IMAX format.
Obviously, we take Abrams' answers with a pinch of salt. He's not about to rubbish a technology that he's just used on the film he's promoting, even the much-maligned post-conversation technique. But the fact that the studio didn't give him any choice says all we need to know about that. Admittedly, the 3D we saw in the preview footage wasn't awful, but if you're planning to see the film in 2D, it's safe to say you'll be well-catered for.
Asked how they found the search for a villain for Star Trek Into Darkness, Abrams focused mainly on the search for an actor, rather than the character. As it turns out, they spent a lot of time looking for people who would work with the existing cast which proved fruitless, until Damon Lindelof texted Abrams and said he should check out (the BBC's) Sherlock, which Abrams said left him "blown away" and that he "just knew" that he was the guy. Apparently Cumberbatch did send an audition video over, recorded on his iPhone, but it was referred to as a "formality". And rightly so, given Cumberbatch's frankly ridiculous level of talent.
In reference to the scenes set on futuristic Earth, Abrams said the idea came from watching the first film, where they showed scenes images of shuttles leaving futuristic San Francisco, and he found himself wondering what life was like there, saying "I'd love to be in that city!" and resolving then to write an action scene set on the ground. He also discussed the scenes set in future-London, and that he hoped the city had been made to look distinct from San Francisco. From the footage we've seen, he's nailed it – you only get a glimpse of London in the preview, but it's unmistakably that city, despite its changes – and there's no confusing it with the San Francisco already seen in the trailer.
Finally, the whole cast was asked their general opinions on Star Trek, in the context of its history and tradition. Quinto was the one who replied, and discussed inheriting the legacy of Spock from Leonard Nimoy, his responsibility to the character, and referring to Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek) as "a visionary". He praised the series' tradition of inclusiveness, and ended by saying that in a time when life is very uncertain and there's a lot of upheaval around the globe, Star Trek has a very positive message to send to the world of today about how good the future could be.
And with that, time was up!
Star Trek Into Darkness is out on the 17th May 2013 in the UK.
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