Star Trek Into Darkness: our look at its 9-minute preview

Spoiler warnings apply, as James describes what he saw at a screening of Star Trek Into Darkness' opening nine minutes...

Recently, Den of Geek was lucky enough to attend a screening of the Star Trek Into Darkness preview that will be attached to the release of The Hobbit. If you’re unable to see it for yourself, then don’t worry – we’ve got the full scoop for you right here.

Obviously, this write-up contains spoilers for what appears to be the opening nine minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness, so don’t read any further unless you’re okay with that – and excuse us any slight errors in the dialogue or sequence of events that you notice, because this is based on the memory of a single viewing. Still, it’s a fairly accurate description, and to prove it, we’ve included a few shots from the existing trailer which support the footage we saw.


Like Abrams’ first Star Trek film, the scene we saw – apparently the film’s opening moments – made a strong attempt to introduce the viewer to the Star Trek universe in a very human and relatable way. Where Star Trek opened with the young Kirk speeding down the highway, this sequence began with Noel Clarke being woken in his very un-futuristic looking bedroom by his dog. Only when he crawls out of bed and throws open the curtains do we realise that he’s not in the present, but in a very futuristic-looking version of London – one where the protected views planning laws have apparently been repealed (there are skyscrapers and everything).

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Clarke’s character and his wife are then seen driving through a rural part of Britain, over the sort of scenery that’ll look familiar to any UK cinemagoers. Aside from the giant structures just visible in the background haze (and the fact that the car is hover-powered) the scenes could almost be happening today. That feeling continues as the pair arrive at a very Victorian-looking building labelled Children’s Hospital, with only hovering stretchers reminding us that this isn’t set today.

A doctor leads the pair to a room where a young girl lies in some kind of coma – their daughter, we assume, as Clarke’s wife replaces the stuffed toy beside her. She remains unresponsive. It’s wordless and tense, clearly a grave scene. Whatever the situation is, it seems hopeless. Back outside the hospital, we see a despondent Clarke staring into the distance. Footsteps announce the arrival of an unseen individual who speaks to Clarke. He assures her that he can help the girl. Clarke turns around, and confirms what we already knew from the voice alone: it’s Cumberbatch (playing, if you believe the company line, one John Harrison).

We don’t need to hear Clarke’s answer to know what he’s going to say.

The action then cuts to a much less familiar locale: the planet of red vegetation seen in the trailer. Captions identify it as a class M planet, named something like ‘Minora’ (we didn’t catch it properly). Two hooded figures, their identities obscured, are running away from a Ziggurat-style temple, pursued by an Aztec-style group of humanoids in loincloths. Their skin is white and chalky, probably with ceremonial paint, and their eyes are naturally jet black spheres. They’re upset, brandishing weapons and yelling. Behind the temple, a large volcano is chucking out thick, black smoke.

Shortly, the hoods come down, revealing that it’s Kirk and McCoy. McCoy asks Kirk what it was he took. “I don’t know” says Kirk, “but they seem pretty upset about it!” The chase continues, the pair narrowly dodging arrows and spears which are thrown at them – the 3D effects see the projectiles shooting out of the screen towards the audience. As they flee, they radio into a shuttlecraft to check on the progress of the other away team members.

Onboard the shuttlecraft (which is within the planet’s atmosphere) Uhura is helping Spock enter an environmental suit of some kind while Sulu mans the controls. Dialogue indicates that Spock is to deliver a briefcase-like device, nicknamed “the Ice Cube” directly into the volcano to calm it – if it erupts, the entire planet will be torn apart by the seismic activity. Fearing for his life, Uhura offers to trade places with Spock. He informs her that it would be unwise, and she assures him it was just a joke, then kisses the transparent visor on his headgear before returning to the shuttle controls.

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Dangling from a tether, Spock is winched into the heart of the volcano, but the seismic activity is stronger than expected. Uhura wants to pull him back up, but he resists. Suddenly, a jet of magma leaps up, severing the cord and damaging the shuttlecraft. He falls onto a rocky outcrop in the volcano, but the shuttle is too damaged to remain in flight. They have to leave Spock behind, and prepare to ditch the shuttlecraft in the sea nearby.

We cut back to Kirk and McCoy. It’s now clear that the reason Kirk stole the artefact from the temple was to get the locals to safety. He unfurls the scroll he was carrying and pins it to a nearby tree. The locals fall to their knees before it, breaking off their pursuit. In the background, the volcano’s worsening eruption destroys the temple they were in. They’ve managed to rescue the native civilians without violating the Prime Directive – for now.

Continuing their escape, Kirk and McCoy reach a cliff and leap off it, into the sea (another shot from the trailer). Shedding their robes reveals a kind of futuristic wetsuit with breathing apparatus, and the pair swim beneath the waves. The Enterprise is there, hidden underwater. They enter an airlock, and are greeted by Simon “Scotty” Pegg. He’s ranting comically about the stress of hiding the Enterprise underwater for several days, but Kirk cuts him off wanting to hear an update about Spock.

The three men enter the bridge, where Chekov is manning the helm. Uhura and Sulu join them. Radio contact with Spock is just about functioning. He assures them he can set off the device, even though it’ll lead to his death. They can’t use the transporter to save him because strong magnetic fields are inhibiting it – although someone suggests that maybe, “with a line of sight” the Transporter would work. The problem is that it would mean revealing the Enterprise to the indigenous people, violating the Prime Directive. Spock he urges them to leave him. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, he says, notably. During this otherwise tense exchange, Scotty does a double-take at a giant alien piranha-like fish that swims up the viewscreen then flits away before anyone but him sees it.

As Chekov counts down to the eruption, they finally lose contact with Spock. Kirk asks no one in particular “If I were there, and he were here, what would Spock do?” – to which McCoy replies, bluntly, “He’d leave you.” Time is counting down. There are only seconds left to save him. We cut back to the volcano’s interior. Spock opens the device, then kneels on the rock as the seismic activity further increases around him. He stretches out his arms, closes his eyes, and calmly accepts that he is about to die…


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And that’s the end of it. After that, we were played a version of the existing trailer which didn’t appear to contain any new footage – or at least, none worth mentioning. From this point on, it’s all speculation, but don’t blame us if any of it turns out to be correct!

Obviously, the big question left by the preview is whether Spock makes it out alive. The trailer footage of the Enterprise rising from beneath the waves suggests that a rescue is at least attempted, Prime Directive be damned – but the funereal tone of some other scenes suggest that Spock might not make it. Or at least, he doesn’t appear to make it, because he’s clearly alive and well in scenes that appear to come from later on in the film. The reprise of Spock Prime’s dying words from Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan are obviously very pointed, but are they just an in-joke, or do they hint at a deeper connections between this film and that one? It’d be an unusual move to apparently kill Spock early on in the film, but given that everyone’s expecting it, maybe not such a bad one…

Still, based on recent comments that Cumberbatch’s John Harrison character is a terrorist (apparently with a relatable cause), it’s probable that the more sombre scenes in the trailer actually come in the aftermath of an attack on San Francisco. We’re accepting theories on how Harrison’s cause ties in with Clarke’s comatose daughter and his offer to help her, though. Presumably the two are connected by a certain incident, but who knows what? And why is Harrison talking to Clarke’s character at all? Is he just a nice guy, or does he need something from Clarke?

Detractors of Abrams’ Nu-Trek will no doubt be interested to note the rather Star Wars-like tone of the crew’s opening scene, from the exotic, CGI-enhanced locals to the comedy-tinged action. There’s definitely an upbeat, Star Wars-y tone that resembles the first film a lot more than the grim, hard-edged trailer we’ve seen.

That’s all we can say about the film for now, except to say that rest assured it looks amazing in IMAX, and that the 3D is, as ever, barely tolerable. We’ll have more for you as and when it becomes available.

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