Thoughts on 30 minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness

Feature James Hunt 8 Mar 2013 - 17:19

We've seen a good half hour of JJ Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness. Here are our thoughts...

As the release of Star Trek Into Darkness edges ever closer, the promotional wheels are picking up speed. Having been rightly impressed with the 9 minute preview back in December, we were now given the chance to see a much fuller 30 minute preview, which covered the opening 28 minutes and showcased some footage from later on in the film.

So, let's not beat around the bush. What did we see? Spoiler warnings, obviously. And proper spoilers. We've held back on a few things, but if you want to see the film cold, you should not read on.

Still here? Here's what happened.

The film opens with the Nibiru sequence we already mentioned, although this time we get to see the end of it. We won't go so far as to spoil what actually happens (except to say that it's not an early death for Spock) but it's a thrilling sequence from start to finish, and one that – and this is almost painful to say – should actually look fantastic in 3D. Not because stuff flies out of the screen at you (although it does) but because the shots have depth and scale and are almost too big for 2D. And even though the sequence is tense and loud and visually stunning, it manages to end on a humorous note that defuses the tension and reminds us that this is all really one big adventure.

Of course, that's not necessarily how everyone sees the Enterprise's escapades. After the sequence where Noel Clarke's character meets Harrison (Cumberbatch) (again, covered last time) the action returns to Kirk and Spock, who are heading to a meeting with Admiral Pike. Kirk thinks they're going to be given the mission he's been gunning for – a five year deep space exploration mission – but no. They're getting a dressing down for what they did on Nibiru. Turns out Starfleet can't put up with Kirk's insubordination and rule-breaking any longer, and they're removing his command and sending him back to Starfleet Academy. Kirk's angry with his superiors, but most of all with Spock, whose truthful report contradicted the "smoothed over" version of the log he submitted.

Meanwhile, we see Clarke. He's accepted Harrison's offer and his daughter is apparently cured. But now he has to hold up his end of the bargain. Again, we'll stay quiet on what it is, exactly, but let's just say that it's a shocking scene, and one that manages to feel relatable despite being set in the Star Trek universe. If Abrams has done anything with Star Trek (and he's done a lot!), he's managed to give the world some actual texture – it's utopian in appearance, but there's more going on than just Starfleet gloss, and that matters here.

The action cuts back to Kirk, who's drowning his sorrows in a dive bar when Pike approaches him with an offer that takes the edge off their previous encounter. Starfleet has given the Enterprise back to Pike, but he's come up with a way to get Kirk back on board. Kirk agrees to do what Pike wants, when suddenly they're called away. Clarke's actions in London means Starfleet needs to convene its Captains to organise a manhunt, and Kirk tags along – but as the scene unfolds, he realises a few moments too late that the real threat isn't what they think it is...

We'll keep quiet on any more details than that for now for fear of spoiling the really big surprises, but here are a few interesting things we noticed from the footage:

Rules are going to be a theme: Kirk doesn't follow them, and while he points to his performance record, declaring that he hasn't lost a single crewman yet, Pike dismisses that as "blind luck". Since Cumberbatch is playing a former Starfleet officer, it's likely that a large part of their conflict will be over whether the rules of Starfleet serve a greater good or not. After all, the entire opening sequence is entirely built around illustrating why the Prime Directive needs to be followed. Kirk thinks the rules don't apply to him. Did Harrison think the same?

Speaking of Harrison…: Any inkling you might have left that Harrison is Khan (or even Gary Mitchell) can probably be dismissed by now. In the footage we saw, he's called Harrison by name, and it's even shown on screen for good measure. He could working for Khan - it's at least plausible that he's an augment of some kind (he's clearly got some kind of extra-human strength, agility and probably intelligence) but to be honest, we're happy to admit that he's probably not the man himself. If nothing else, he hasn't once shown his chest on screen.

The Enterprise takes the kind of beating that it might not come back from: An action scene taken from later in the film shows a battle-damaged Enterprise plunging towards Earth with Spock in command and the crew battling to restart the engines before it hits the surface of the planet. As with the action on Nibiru, Abrams manages to contrast the human drama inside the ship with the sheer scale outside – in this case, by showing what happens when a Starship spins towards a planet with its gravity switched off. It's truly mind-bending stuff. Indeed, for the first time, it's the kind of action sequence you always wanted to see in Star Trek, but which a TV show never had the budget to replicate. Easily the best part of everything we saw, and with a wholly unexpected ending. We wouldn't be surprised if the next Star Trek film needs a new Enterprise…

And while it might seem like we've seen a lot of this film by now, there's still a lot more to look forward to. We didn't see the Klingons from the trailer. We didn't see anything of Alice Eve's character, Carol Marcus, or Peter Weller as her father Admiral Marcus (although he was mentioned). We don't learn what Harrison's plan is, what his motivations are, or whether he's acting alone. We don't even know how the newly-disbanded Enterprise crew gets back together (Spock is transferred to the USS Bradbury following Kirk's dismissal.)

But we do know that this looks like a sequel done right: bigger, better, much more of it. Two months to go...

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Disqus - noscript

Nerd rant! Please, please, please...! New Enterprise...Well, keep the saucer, sort the rest. Anyway, very much looking forward to this!'s got a lot of what we had in the first film? Building the crew, Kirk being un-trustworthy in Starfleet's eyes and having to sneak around to be part of things, Pike in command but Kirk will be Captain by the end... *yawn*

Cumberbatch will steal the show, for sure. Lots of reviews are praising his presence already.. Waiting for new trailers, hopefully more John Harrison.

You really have no understanding of why "Star Trek" worked, do you?

'bigger' and 'better'... two words that so belong together.

Interesting about nibiru...using real world suedo science about the so called Planet X from our solar system, which apparently was destroyed billions of years ago and is now the asteroid belt.

Sorry nibiru smashed into a planet and caused the asteroid belt, some scientist say nibiru will one day return...little did they know it would be Star Trek

You know thats what I thought reading all that. It sounds a hell of a lot like most of the points from the first film. I am sure it will be different and good, but it does sound very similar.

After all this time to come up with a story do you mean to tell me they are just going to re do a lot of scenes from the first film? Like Kirk sitting in a bar and Pike coming to talk to him?

Seems a bit thin. Oh well I will have to wait until I have seen the film.

I still don't get the point of seeing the first 10 minuets of a film... but the first 30 minuets (!?) that's really excessive. Just let people watch the whole damned film at that rate.

Great write-up!

I just read a report from a screening of this material in Latin America, which my software translated from Portuguese into mostly English.

That passed on more spoilers, which I probably could have done without, but also makes it clear that Benedict Cumberbatch really is not playing Khan.

Thank God for that, that would have been ridiculous. Instead, he is playing just the sort of brilliant sociopath I was sure he would be, well, brilliant at. (I'm a big Sherlock fan.)

And we see that good old Mick-Mick-Mickety Smith, as the Doctor calls him, is up to no good in Star Trek.

Which means that I finally get why STID is opening in the UK before the US.

Star Trek, despite its universalist message and forerunner multi-culturalism, has really struggled in international markets. (Probably because there's so much talking.)

The UK is a great way to start changing that.

You've got, um, major happenings in London driving the plot.

You've got the star of Sherlock as the turncoat villain with a rationale for his monstrous behavior.

You've got a well-liked friend from Doctor Who in the middle of the action.

It all makes great sense now.

Having read the much more spoiler-laden report from the screening in Latin America, I can tell you that your assessment could not be more inaccurate.

this is just abrams drip feeding snippets of info to get people interested in seeing the rest, im sure it wont just be a re-hash of bits from the last film, it seems that too many people are already saying that it will be pants ( as per the comments ), well im sure it will be very good indeed

I still think he's Khan. That might seem very silly, at it possibly is, but the 9 minute preview and trailer was reminiscent of far too many memorable and critical Wrath of Khan moments. The needs of the many quote pops up, then there's the scene with Kirk and Spock touching palms through the glass, not to mention the enhanced human running about.
I'm really not one of these silly conspiracy people who makes ridiculous connections, I'm just going off what I've seen. John Harrison is still a thoroughly unmemorable name, and the appearance of Spocks quote in the preview is clearly setting the quote up for later in the movie in some more dramatic situation. You know that little movie trick, throw a line in offhandedly, and then bring it back up later in a more memorable, serious situation. If I'm wrong, I'll come back to this comment and admit it when I've seen the movie! The similarities are just to blatant for me to put it to the back of my mind and accept that he won't turn out to be Khan!

For years after the end of World War II, Japanese soldiers who never got the word, or were just resolute bitter enders, kept popping up on various Pacific islands ...

You're outta control, Kirk! You're a loose cannon! Turn in your badge, your gun, and your Starship.

Noel Clarke's presence will be why I shell out good money to see this flick.

After seeing, in the last video promo, their ripping off the Kirk/Spock separated by glass scene from Trek II (1982)... but even one ripoff in of itself isn't a total joke. I still think the movie will be more style than substance, especially if it has to "pay homage" to previous films by stealing from them, but the only way to know is to see it firsthand. If it's worth seeing.

That depends on how "worked" is defined.

The 2009 flick was a vapid action piece that relied on nostalgia, while turning characters into the sort of campy caricatures of the likes people hadn't seen since "Star Trek V". Never mind the laughable attempt to use sci-fi with 'red matter' and, even better, the alternate timeline that still had all the geeks being sought after to explain it all to the general audiences... *sigh*

Am I just being cynical in thinking that the story will fall along the lines of: Kirk punished for being a maverick rule breaker > Terrorist attack on innocents > Terrorists can't be stopped with civilised procedures > Kirk brought back to deal with matters because the soft-hearted liberals out there have finally learned that sometimes rules have to be broken to get the job done?

hope it's better than the the first movie which was big, loud, dumb action rubbish

Do you think there's a significance to the name John Harrison? Some of my fanboy friends think it might be a reference to the clockmaker who designed the system of longitudes, but I'm hoping it's a reference to the bassist for Hawkwind...

Because "general audiences" are just soooo stupid?

I didn't see any of that.

Star Trek needed to be rebooted and brought out of the old nostalgia camp where some diehard old fans want it kept.

>the alternate timeline that still had all the geeks being sought after to explain it all to the general audiences

I do so enjoy seeing minuets of films.

Especially since I don't believe I have danced a minuet since grade school when I was in the school play as George Washington.

Harrison is the name of an officer on the original series known for pretty much being every where. One of those background players you always see which was named once and developed a following. There are whole fan theories as to why he ended up working in multiple departments on the ship.

that to me sounds like a reasonably good theme :)

Yeah sure he uses another name therefore he can't be Khan.

I said I'd be back, and I am! Unfortunately, I have no idea what email address or password I used.. Oh well, I was right!

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