First Impressions Of Star Trek Into Darkness IMAX Preview + JJ Abrams Talks ‘Darkness’

Tonight I had the honor to be invited to a special preview presentation of the opening 9-minute prologue from Star Trek Into Darkness which will be showing at IMAX 3D screenings of the Hobbit next weekend. A detailed play-by-play will be held until next weekend but I can report on comments from JJ Abrams, share my first impressions of seeing IMAX 3D Trek, and go into a bit of minor spoilers (at end of the article).


First Impressions of IMAX Star Trek Into Darkness Preview + JJ Talks ‘Darkness’

The IMAX footage was introduced by Star Trek Into Darkness director JJ Abrams who revealed that this audience was the first to see this special presentation (so apparently it wasn’t shown at the Tokyo press event last week). JJ also briefly addressed the film’s title and some comments in the media about the how this might be a ‘dark’ turn for Trek, saying:

"People say "’Into Darkness’ – lot of darkness, very doom and gloom" and there is a lot of intensity in this film, but it is also fun too, which you will see in this beginning."

Abrams went on to say that he didn’t want those of us invited to the event to spoil the nine minute preview by reporting a play by play, and to let fans experience it for themselves and so I will honor that.

But what I can say is that I was impressed with what I saw in two ways. Firstly this looked like nothing seen before in Trek. Most of the first nine minutes were shot with IMAX cameras and seeing that in IMAX 3D truly is extraordinary. The quality of the visual imagery was on par with The Dark Knight Rises. Also some of the shots shown used 3D to great effect. It wasn’t in your face, but it really brought you in to the strange new world presented in this opening segment. The second way this preview is like nothing scene in Trek before was the scale of the thing. Even more than the 2009 Star Trek, it is just a treat to see the universe that we love so much realized in such a grand (and expensive) way.

And the sounds are equally as impressive as the visuals. Once again the same gang of best in class sound designers (including Academy Award winner Ben Burtt) are on the case. Also the preview features all new music by Michael Giacchino (another Oscar-winner). The music at times was original for Into Darkness, but then there were also flourishes which called back to some of the musical cues and themes from 2009’s Star Trek, including when we see an exciting (and surprising) reveal of the USS Enterprise. 




To get into a bit more detail, the preview was broken into two sequences, starting with a more quiet and Earthbound bit featuring Noel Clarke, Nanzeen Contractor (playing husband and wife in London). Together they are facing a crisis with their daughter. A sort of montage of moments with the family leads into into a menacing appearance by Benedict Cumberbatch who seems to be offering Clarke a sort of lifeline (which we assume has a price). While these are all new characters (as in not seen in the 2009 Star Trek), this short sequence is quite intense and emotional and really sets a tone for the film. 

The rest (and majority) of the preview takes us to a very red-hued alien planet with a serious lava problem ( which we saw glimpses of in the trailer released last week). This sequence features the heroes of the USS Enterprise on a mission where they face one challenge after another all leading up to a big moment. We have Kirk and McCoy dealing with angry aliens and Spock getting very warm in a volcano with the help of Sulu and Uhura. And Scotty seems to mostly be worried about what this planet is doing to his ship. Chekov (at his station in his traditional gold shirt) is also there, offering whiz kid suggestions to his captain.

This second sequence was very exciting and full of cool visuals, new gadgets, new specialty uniforms, and lots for a Trekkie to mull over. It also feels like the opening of a James Bond film, with heart-pounding, fast-paced action. But this was not action for action’s sake. Trek fans will certainly see how this sequence deals with things which are at the heart of what Star Trek is all about. And as promised by Abrams we go from the intensity of the opening family scenes into action combined with some fun light-hearted moments very in line with Trek tradition, with Karl Urban and Simon Pegg getting the best lines.

While I expect Trek fans to come away from this preview excited about the film, I doubt fans will walk away feeling like they know the plot of the film, or the identity of the film’s villain (Cumberbatch). Abrams keeps his secrets close and this opening  of the film is no different.

That’s all that can be said for now. More when the sequence goes live in theaters later on in the week. Also check back to TrekMovie tomorrow for a report on the second trailer and another Star Trek press event.

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I’d give my pointy ears for a spoiler or two.

If you google search you can find details of the first 9 minutes…and you will be pleasantly surprised.

#2…Definitely not Khan.

Anthony, can we discuss the info contained in the other sites’ reports here, or would that be a violation of your NDA in any way?

Sounds A+

Guess since Cumberbatch is right there off the bat at the start of the film, it ain’t Khan where they picked him up floating in space.

So Khan hangs out outside of Hospitals offering augment gene therapy to unsuspecting parents? Interesting role for the absolute leader of 1/4 of the Earth’s population. Mitchell’s out for me too.

Still hope for Colonel Green and Capt. Garth … Especially Garth who can presumably teach metamorphic healing techniques …

“Firstly this looked like nothing seen before in Trek.” “The second way this preview is like nothing seen in Trek before was the scale of the thing. Even more than the 2009 Star Trek, it is just a treat to see the universe that we love so much realized in such a grand (and expensive) way.”

YES AND YES! Music to my ears, can’t wait to see this grand, expansive universe. The 9 minute preview sounds interesting and exciting. These are the kinds of spoilers I like, same with the footage, you are given tidbits but not enough to reveal anything so essential that it truly ruins the plot thereby experience when one sees the movie. I also like to hear that the beginning is intense and emotional. I love when a movie really evokes emotion be it terror from a horror movie or tears and deep belly laughs from a comedy. I’ll never forget how emotional and intense the opening scene was in the 2009 movie, I was not expecting that, it was great, it made me teary eyed.

#7, he’s interacting with Nazneen and Noah’s characters.


Another site has reported play by play so even though AP is acting honorably, it is to no avail, really. Cumberbatch is seen in the opening sequence, volunteering to “heal” a sick child… he can “heal” the child with his abilities/powers… so no, that does not sound like Khan Noonian Singh to me.

Maybe it’s Gary Mitchell and his god-like powers…? Maybe?

11 – hee, good luck :) my reply got deleted for posting something to that effect!

Effing reported a play by play. I regret reading that. Anyway, it just fills me with joy that the world will know how awesome Trek is.

Also, I have a feeling we are not going to know who Cumberbatch is playing until it premieres and I am okay with that!

Well, it looks like the floodgates have opened, so it’s not going to be possible to keep Pandora in the box much longer.

OK, so Cumby has healing qualities as well as superhuman strength, etc. Gary? Not so sure any more. Trelane/Q? Again, not so sure. However, I have been racking my brain to try and figure out what TOS character had healing properties and other than that Empath chick, I can’t figure out anyone.

Have we all been led along the garden path with the statements that the villain was a TOS character? Maybe and maybe not. Weller could still well be Khan. Or heck, for all we know, Louie Anderson or Regis Philbin could have snuck onto the set and played Khan. From the 9 minutes no one knows. However, it’s pretty obvious that Cumby is not Khan.

The question I have is “what’s with all the water?” The E is in the water on the red plant planet, the (what I’m calling a) late TNG era ship crashes into SF Bay, and unless there be whales around boborci & clan must have had a hankering for sushi because when I think of starships, the last place I think of them is playing Nautilus.

HOWEVER, please note that I WAS right in stating many days ago when the 9 minute preview was first announced that at the end we still wouldn’t have a freakin’ clue who Cumby was. I was wrong on a lot of other things, but not this one.

If the actual revelation is kept under wraps until May I WILL lose my mind…


Great, now I’m gonna have to listen to the Gary Mitchell resurrection mafia here for another five months. Argh!!!

Latino Review calls the planet Nibiru, and if that’s the case that’s the planet that’s supposed to collide with the Earth according to some (realistic or illusionary) predictions. So is that why the E is underwater there, to redirect the trajectory? Is Cumby trying to get Nibiru to hit the Earth? At least we know that Cumby is in London at one point, as that’s where the sick kid is. Yes, I’m losing my mind, thank you, and it’s not even May yet.

Cumberbatch will be listed in the final credits as “villain”.

15. The Original Spock’s Brain – It’s more likely to be a Horta than Sybok. The Vulcan healed “psychological” traumas in that huge POS waste of celluloid. Since the kid is losing hair, it’s likely malignant cancer and there isn’t much psychological that can be done against that. However, I’m still leaning against Gary now… and I don’t know where this “who is Cumby” thing is going… not a clue at all.

It’s spelled “Sybok,” not “Sybock.”

And Sybok didn’t have magical healing abilities.

Maybe Cumberbatch is really nameless in this film. Hahaha! That would be A+ trolling.

All I’m sayin’ is this….

….. I have a mancrush on JJ for his ability to both control content release and keep us all talking. Magnificent Bastard!

“A sort of montage of moments with the family leads into into a menacing appearance by Benedict Cumberbatch who seems to be offering Clarke a sort of lifeline (which we assume has a price). ”

To point out the obvious, it sounds rather Faustian, Anthony.

Well, I guess this means Noel Clarke’s fears of being cut from the movie entirely were unfounded…..

@16. Nah, just for a week….

Oh and for the record, I wouldn’t deign to rule out either Khan OR Mitchell, or even the possibility of an entirely new non-canon character (we all could have been lied to, ya know). Truth is the only thing we know for sure is that we can be sure of NOTHING.

@16 MJ,
“Great, now I’m gonna have to listen to the Gary Mitchell resurrection mafia here for another five months. Argh!!!”

And we’re probably gonna have to listen to you rationalize why Khan would be hanging around outside of hospitals offering illegal genetic engineering … ;-)

Seriously I hope not. I don’t see how this could possibly be Gary Mitchell as possessed by the Galactic Barrier Entity either …

I still don’t get why anyone ever thought gary mitchell. He’s not a bad guy and never was. The only reason he was a threat was because of the events in “Where no man has gone before”. Since this hasn’t happened, and doesn’t need to happen, hes not your villian.

I’m hoping I’m wrong (I want a brand new villian), but khan seems like a possibility.

@16…actually, it’s the Sybok mantra that’s really starting to irritate me. Probably one of the wort conceived characters in Trek, and folks actually want to see more of him? Insane.

26 Rob – We can be sure that Cumby can heal the kid and he’s not going in to bring her candy. So what kind of Khan is a faith healer taking care of sick kids? Cumby is NOT Khan. That’s the end of that line of speculation. He could be Gary, but that’s also a bit of a stretch as when he gets Godlike, he tends to be a pr!ck and pretty self centered, so he doesn’t strike me as the kind that hangs out at hospitals and takes care of ailing children. I’m just on the verge of giving up on any previous Trek character as the superpowers that come and go, the healing, etc. just don’t fit anything… unless Gary has been retconned to have a heart! So where do we reconcile healing a sick kid with blowing up most of San Francisco, kids included? This is sooooooooooo freakin’ weird…

You know, if Karl Urban weren’t already cast as McCoy, I’d pick him as a dead ringer for Gary Mitchell. I think he’s the slosest in look to the original.

18. LOL

16 Not anyworse than hearing someone go on and on about Khan for the last 6 months.

Anyways reading Drew Mcweeny’s article over on hitfix,
this little blurb, almost got me to thinking of the classic TOS episode The deadly years.
But obviously its not going to
“They drive to the London Children’s Hospital to visit their little girl, who appears to be aging prematurely, sick ”

@30. Whose the say the kid doesn’t have some rare genetic disease, and than Khan needs the guy’s services that he offers a high-tech genetic fix that were also used to make him a super-human a century before. Remember how the new Planet of the Apes had an aerosol to deliver the genetic retrovirus.

Think about it — this actually fits the Khan scenario perfectly.

Hmm… maybe it’s a SPECIAL kid. So, a special female who can’t die in this timeline as she grows up to be ___________. So who the heck is it? Speculation gone wild follows:

Carol Marcus
Borg Queen

I’m spinning my wheels….

Thos events have happened for Mitchell in this timeline as established in the comics.

They thought they had killed him there but maybe not.

So it could be Mitchell though i’m not sure.

But i doubt even more that it is Khan.

I have SOMETHING! I don’t know if it’s MUCH, but it’s SOMETHING.

Memory Alpha: “James T. Kirk becomes a brilliant yet cynical misfit who is finally convinced to join Starfleet by Captain Christopher Pike in 2255.”

Hitfix: “peeking out their window at the rainy cityscape of London in the year 2253”

The sick kid scene is YEARS before Kirk gets on the 1701. So that DOES give the kid time to grow up a bit. So who’s the kid??? HEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I still am having trouble coming to terms with the freaking Enterprise being able to go under water. First it’s built on earth. Then it’s a submarine as well as a space ship…

Why do I feel like in the third one of these movies it’s gonna have Super Pursuit Mode?

Mark James Tucker,

That link is very interesting. Thanks!

Diseases like that are usually genetic issues. So I agree with MJ that this might fit Khan perfectly, given that he may have brought “the juice” with him from his old ship that can make superhumans. It’s logical to think that that cocktail would cure the girl. Who knows, maybe that is even a flashback scene, and Alice Eve’s character is the little girl grown up, now a mole super-human supporting BC’s evil plot…maybe that was the “deal with the devil” that Noel Clarke’s character made with BC’s character to save his daughter?

33 – Aging prematurely? That isn’t necessarily “the deadly years”. Google Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. Strikes kids down by their teen years and they essentially die of old age.

Another clue from Hitfix: “Little girl, who appears to be aging prematurely” So let’s do a little math:

In 2253 the kid is (say) 7.
Kirk becomes a cadet in 2255, hits the Big E in 2258. This movie is a year after (according to boborci) so 2259
The kid would now be 13, but if she aged prematurely and let’s say aged 7 years ahead, she could be Dehner.
Gary’s “Godlike” powers know that he is going to be his psi-queen so he has to save her when she’s a kid.

I dunno if that makes a lot of sense… but there ya go!:)

@38. Next think you know that put artificial gravity on and and have it exceed the speed of light many times over. ;-)

40 I did say I know there is not a connection though , I was just saying first thing that sprang to my mind when i read it.

The Antosians healed Garth and Garth can therefore use what he learned to heal others. But what’s angle? If it is him then he’s not as raving loony as Prime Garth was.

I think we’ve only DS9’s Bashir’s backstory to draw on as to whether augment tech could cure disease.

Have we ever seen god-Mitchel ever heal anyone? If he did wouldn’t it be more so he could torture them more?

I wonder if the girl is Eve’s character being given a Bashirish backstory? Except maybe this cure eventually turns her and others into a WMD?

44. Disinvited – Nope, Gary didn’t heal anyone, and if it is progeria then IMHO it’s pretty CREEPY that Gary would have designs on Dehner when she was chronologically 13 years old. I don’t think that boborci & co. would go THERE. But I’m more confused than ever. The only thing I think we can say with certainty is that the London events occurred while Kirk was still motoring around Iowa, so it is a backstory of SOMETHING.

You got to see the preview to the preview?


“Have we ever seen god-Mitchel ever heal anyone? If he did wouldn’t it be more so he could torture them more?”

Yea, the more we hear, the more we are ruling Mitchell out here. Khan is now looking stronger given the girl apparently has a genetic disease and BC’s character jumps like a super-human.

Here’s a new wrinkle. BC’s character might be a descendant of Khan’s?

45 – that would rule out Gary, too, because of the timing. Getting any “powers” would imply Cumbervillain had the powers prior to Mitchell’s encounter with the barrier in the comic.

On the other hand, maybe there is no supernatural explanation whatsoever and Cumbervillain was a doctor or scientist before going around the bend. Who knows. NOTHING could be as it seems.

Cumberbatch’s character offers to heal the man’s daughter?

Jesus Christ!

No, I’m not being blasphemous, I’m simply stating the character played by Cumberbatch.

He obviously depicts the second coming of Christ, starting with healing the sick!