'Star Trek Into Darkness': Decoding the nine minutes
Posted December 16, 2012
Before the storm strikes, there is laughter.
This weekend, moviegoers got a nine-minute sneak peek at Star Trek Into Darkness(due out May 17) in 288 IMAX theaters across the country before screenings of The Hobbit. They discovered some levity in the opening scene that sets up the havoc (already revealed in the trailer) to be launched by the mysterious John Harrison, the mysterious villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
"The movie does definitely get intense and goes to a dark place for a while," says director J.J. Abrams. "But there's no darkness without light."
To further illuminate fans of the venerable sci-fi series, Abrams offers these insights into the segment:
* Space is not necessarily the final frontier. The Enterprise goes underwater! To engineer Scotty's (Simon Pegg) horror and to the surprise of Trekkies, the famous spaceship shows it can hide out in the ocean.
"Among the fun things we get to do is imagine moments and things we have not seen before," says Abrams. "There are fans and purists of the original Trek who say that's sacrilegious to do something like that. And yet (Trek creator) Gene Roddenberry wrote about going where we have not gone before. And that's what we are trying to do. It's the spirit of what Roddenberry wrote."
Says Abrams of the underwater sequences: "I also know other purists who say it's completely possible and completely consistent."
*Vulcan love continues. Spock (Zachary Quinto) the Vulcan and human Uhura (Zoe Saldana) continue their cross-species relationship, which began in 2009'sStar Trek, aboard the Enterprise.
"This movie takes place six months later and they are still a couple," says Abrams.
But trouble looms for this romance.
"This movie tests a number of relationships," says Abrams. "And one of them is theirs. What is it to date a Vulcan? He may be reliable, loyal, honest, logical and smart. But he also, to a fault, follows rules. Does that get in the way of love?"
* A new troubled couple appears. Don't worry if you don't recognize the couple (played by Noel Clarke and Nazneen Contractor) who have a sick daughter in the movie's first scenes. They are new, introduced as a key plot point for the villain. But their presence also makes audiences relate to the future world.
"The family in peril plants the additional notion that this is a movie of real people dealing with real stuff even if it's hundreds of years in the future," says Abrams. "It's stuff you can relate to today."
* Cumberbatch is really bad. While Cumberbatch's villain is still shrouded in questions, there's no doubt of his menace.
"Benedict is masterful, he elevates every moment," says Abrams. "He tips the scales, and that voice is amazing."
* Earth's future is intact. It might be 2259 but the world is pretty cool and certainly not the bleak place many futuristic movies present. No zombies, no hunger games, no road warriors. One scene even shows London with St. Paul's Cathedral dwarfed by modern buildings.
"It's definitely got the optimism of Roddenberry's future with the intensity and darkness of this character who threatens it all," says Abrams.
* Raiders gets a nod. James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Karl Urban) are introduced while running away from natives of a planet in a scene reminiscent of 1981'sRaiders of the Lost Ark.
Abrams notes that with Raiders director Steven Spielberg and writer George Lucas, "it's hard to do anything and not have it remind you of their work. They have sort of done it all."
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