Analysis Of Star Trek Into Darkness IMAX Extended Preview + Open Thread For Prologue & Trailer #2

The wait is over for Star Trek Into Darkness, well actually for the first nine minutes of the movie which can bee seen at IMAX 3D screenings of The Hobbit this weekend. Today TrekMovie analyzes this prologue in detail. See below and also chat about it in the comments section. You can also chat about the new trailer which is also showing in non-IMAX domestic Hobbit screenings (and will be online on Monday). Warning: Spoilers.


ANALYSIS: IMAX Star Trek Into Darkness Preview + JJ Talks ‘Darkness’

The Star Trek Into Darkness "extended preview" is showing exclusively with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey An IMAX 3D Experience at Digital IMAX theaters (click HERE for Domestic List & HERE for International List). The nine minute prologue will not be made available online, but will remain in theaters with The Hobbit in IMAX. (The analysis below contains photos, but all are from the trailer released last week or other sources).

Before we start, I would like to say that there are spoilers and you should probably just go see it yourself before reading and commenting.


London and a Stardate – 1 year later

Star Trek Into Darkness starts with the same iconic pinging sounds that began 2009’s Star Trek, but this time it resolves into an alarm clock being shut off in a London flat. This seems to be a fake-out but also an attempt to start the film as more grounded. The year is Stardate 2259.55 (or February 2259). This is a little over a year after (most of) the events of the 2009 Star Trek movie. This is our first indication of the time setting for the film. The current Star Trek comic series has shown the new crew have a number of adventures so we knew the sequel would not take place right after the first film, but in the real world four years have passed. It appears that the new team want their crew to still be a bit fresh from when James T. Kirk was given command of the Federation’s flagship, which is probably a better move than taking us four years into their mission.

Into Darkness (apparently) kicks off about a year after the crew set off at the end of "Star Trek"

A family in need and an ominous offer to help – leading to terror in London?

Back to London, where there is a montage of scenes with a couple (played by Noel Clarke and Nanzeen Contractor) taking their future car to a hospital in the country where we see an old style building filled with nice but subtle futuristic touches like floating gurneys. The father and mother are visiting their very sick little girl and it is heartbreaking. This montage of scenes has no dialog but is accompanied by beautifully mournful music from Michael Giacchino. The father has to step outside to get some air….and then he hears an ominous voice behind him say "I can save her." Turning he sees Benedict Cumberbatch tell him he can save his daughter and (like every Trekkie in the world is asking), the father implores "who are you?"

Cumberbatch’s John Harrison is giving Dad a way to save his kid so the implication is that he has some kind of advanced medical technology not available to the doctors at this very fine looking hospital. With all the speculation swirling, I expect most Trekkies (and even some non-Trekkies) will jump to the theory that he is offering advanced (genetically engineered) medicine. As we know genetic engineering on humans is outlawed in the Federation, so if you are offering it you lurk around the edges of hospitals like some kind of 23rd century drug dealer. The location of London is also noteworthy due to the teaser poster which clearly showed some kind of destruction overlooking the London skyline. Benedict Cumberbatch has described John Harrison as a terrorist, so are we to assume London a target? It remains to be seen how this family ties into all that but it probably isn’t a coincidence.

John Harrison atop pile of rubble overlooking London (from teaser poster)


Kirk and McCoy "save" some aliens

We then have a quick jump to the Class M planet Nibiru (new to the Trek canon) with a bunch of humanoid aliens with chalky white skin adorned with colorful tattoos chasing a couple of robed figures through an orange jungle. There is also a total change in the pacing, the music, even the look. We have now entered EPIC ACTION STAR TREK ZONE.

This lovely location on planet Nibiru is Volcano adjacent

Soon it is revealed that the people being chased are our heroes, James T. Kirk and Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy and Kirk is holding something that he apparently stole from the aliens to draw them away from "the kill zone" of a looming volcano.

McCoy is not happy about being chased by aliens

Spock gets dropped in a volcano – by choice

Through some back and forth communicator chatter between Kirk and Spock (on board a shuttle wearing his shiny red Iron Man suit) we learn that Spock is planning on deploying a "super ice cube" (Kirk’s description) into a volcano, but they are all trying to hide from the aliens in order to maintain the prime directive. Sulu is piloting the shuttle and doing a lot of screaming about how things are getting hairy, and Uhura is there to help Spock with his suit – and apparently for moral support for her man as she gives him a peck on his helmet. Eventually Sulu decides that they aren’t going to make it and they try to pull Spock back up but he refuses, cutting his line to heroically drop into the volcano.

Spock and his "super ice cube" lowered into the Volcano

Kirk and McCoy go for a swim…to the Enterprise

We return back to the running Kirk and McCoy who have some witty back and forth leading up to the pair jumping off a cliff. This Butch and Sundance move seems crazy until something even crazier happens and you see the pair of them swim up to the USS Enterprise hiding under water. You read that right. Enterprise. Under. Water.

Time for a dip on Nibiru

Does the Prime Directive dictate Spock should get roasted in a volcano?

The rest of the prologue features Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, Chekov, Sulu and Uhura (boy those two sure got there fast after abandoning their shuttle) mostly on the USS Enterprise bridge (which appears unchanged since the last movie). They are all talking to Spock who is having a lovely stroll through the inside of a volcano. He is trying to stop an eruption in order to save the indigenous species. And during this we get some good bridge interplay and some funny lines by Scotty, along with a great reaction shot of him spotting a giant fish out the window. Also it is likely pandering, but sure that lots of folks will like seeing Zoe Saldana and Chris Pine is skin tight Starfleet wet suits.

Thankfully  Spock packed his volcano suit

But there is serious business going on as the shuttle is toast (and apparently sending any others is pointless?) and the transporters can’t get Spock out either. So just keeping track here, but beaming from Titan to Earth was no big deal and even beaming at warp could be pulled off, but some smoke from a volcano and forget about it.  Anyway Spock is going on about the Prime Directive and noting how the "needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," but Kirk is not having any of it. There is a ticking clock towards detonation, and Kirk realizes that if the roles were reversed Spock would let his captain die to protect the Prime Directive. The segment ends with Kirk pondering his options and Spock apparently accepting his fate as a future rock formation.

While this whole sequence is a James Bond/Indiana Jones action-packed thrill-ride opening sequence it also deals with core issues of Star Trek. The Prime Directive is about as core as you can get and Kirk is faced with the dilemma of weighing it against his family (Spock is part of his crew/family)

Is this the end for Mr. Spock? Will Kirk let him die? Tune in May 17th

OK, well it isn’t a stretch to think that maybe Kirk finds a way to get Spock out of the pinch, but perhaps he has to break the Prime Directive to do it. If those are his only two choices and if the rest of the movie isn’t a flashback, then Spock is going to make it out of there some how. How do I feel about USS Enterprise under water? I’m cool with it. This one was built on land after all and if it can handle the stress of warp travel and space battles, it can probably handle a few atmospheres of water pressure. And they ‘hung a lantern on it’ by having Scotty griping about how stupid it was to do it and how the saltwater is causing all sorts of trouble. At the Bad Robot visit earlier this the producers assured us that there was a logical reason for it. That being said, I do think that a starship (especially with glowing engines) would be generating a lot of heat and shouldn’t there just be plumes of steam all over?

Not seen in the prologue – but what goes down must come up

Final thoughts

This is just a taste of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness. We really learn very little about the plot of the film but it is nice to start off with our crew out in space on a mission on a real "strange new world," well OK the ship is under water and not in space but close enough. The rest of the film will likely have more to do with Cumberbatch’s ominous offer to the troubled father than it will the Nibirians and their volcano.

The opening doesn’t have the same kind of emotional punch as the 2009 Star Trek film, featuring the death of Kirk’s father, the birth of baby Kirk and divergence of timelines. This time they seem to be aiming more for the gut instead of the heart to start their movie. While different, everyone still seems on their game. The actors have slipped right back into their roles and even show us how the characters have moved on a bit since we last saw them. The chemistry between Pine and Urban as well as Saldana and Quinto hasn’t missed a beat. And Simon Pegg’s Scotty still steals the show, and it seems to me, he has even dialed his Scottishness up a notch.

All of my kidding above aside, watching Kirk (with McCoy at his side) running around on an alien planet barking orders to Spock through a communicator and signing off with an emphatic "Kirk Out!" just brings chills to this Trekkie. There is no more looking at these guys as interlopers. They are the crew of the USS Enterprise, and deservedly so.

As for the look, it is clear that Abrams is now painting on an even wider canvas than his previous Star Trek film (which was his second feature film). And even though he was reportedly reluctant to embrace 3D, he uses it to great effect in this IMAX preview, with the ash cloud, and ocean scenes really giving a sense of immersion into this world. Abrams still still is frenetic with the camera constantly in motion and cuts coming rapid fire, but for this  film he seems to have toned down his signature lens flares a bit. And while some may be wondering about the logic of the USS Enterprise in the ocean, the shots of ship underwater (especially in IMAX 3D) were astounding. You can tell that even in the last four years ILM has improved their technology and their digital craftsmanship .

Of course once again the production values are at a level that almost takes some getting used to for Star Trek. From the sound, to the effects, to the costumes and props, everything is truly best in class. And Giachino’s music is again a highlight, matching and enhancing the mood for each moment. He even calls back to his last Star Trek for the reveal of the Enterprise.

If I have one beef it is with the Nibirians. With a big budget Star Trek movie we should see some really alien aliens. This has been one of the strengths of the Star Wars franchise – even the much maligned prequels. But the Into Darkness’ Nibirians just look like some kind of primitive tribe of mud-caked humans straight out of National Geographic. I didn’t even realize they had four nostrils until I visited Bad Robot and saw the designs up close. Sure they are better than the proverbial aliens-of-the-week with slapped-on latex foreheads from Star Trek on TV, but not by much.

Regardless, for those who don’t mind just getting a taste, catching this "extended preview" should be a delight for any fan of the 2009 Star Trek movie. If you have no interest in The Hobbit, it may be hard to justify paying to just see nine minutes, but if you can’t wait then you will probably think it is worth it.

Bottom Line is that seeing nine minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness only makes me want more…so five months is a long time to wait.

Uhura cant bear waiting five months either


Also showing this weekend with non-IMAX screenings of The Hobbit (US and Canada) is the second Star Trek Into Darkness trailer. This trailer will be be available streaming at (and elsewhere) on Monday. TrekMovie will also be offering the usual shot-by-shot breakdown. Until then, here is a repost of the details from the screening at the Bad Robot visit earlier this week.

NOTE: Showing trailers is at theater discretion and so some showings of The Hobbit may not have the Into Darkness trailer.


Like with the first trailer the dialog is mostly in the form of voiceover. First up is Admiral Pike telling Kirk there is "greatness" in him, but then saying something along the lines of "you think you can’t make a mistake, but there will come a time when you you realize you are wrong about that and you are going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed." The trailer also features to voice of Benedict Cumberbatch’s John Harrison (also likely talking to Kirk), using the dialog "You think you’re safe…you are not" and "is there anything you would not do for your family?" (both heard in the first trailer).

Here are more highlights of shots not seen in trailer released last week.

  • Starts with more shots of San Francisco skyline
  • Shows shots of corridors and bridge of an empty USS Enterprise
  • More detailed shots of Kirk & McCoy running through red alien jungle and the Volcano (now both known to be on planet named Nibiru, featured in 9-minute IMAX preview)
  • Chekov seen running through USS Enterprise wearing red shirt (unclear if he is assigned to Security of Engineering
  • John Harrison shown in the brig with Kirk and Spock watching (from photo released yesterday)
  • Short clip of Federation flag being folded over (possibly) coffin
  • Someone in space suit shooting through space at very high speeds
  • Spock jumps off the top of a skyscraper (seems to be in San Francisco)
  • Unknown small ship dodging debris (possibly structures) being chased by another ship (which looked a bit like Klingon design)
  • Shot of large room (possibly shuttle bay or cargo hold) filled with tubes which have small windows (or possibly control panels) on the top

These bits will all get thrown into the Speculatron which will hit a fever pitch this weekend. However, bear in mind that this report is based on a single viewing of a very fast-paced trailer (so please forgive any possible errors). On Monday (after trailer is released online) TrekMovie will have the full details, with the usual shot-by-shot analysis.

This scene will be shown in trailer coming out this weekend

VOTE: Did you see the IMAX Preview? Did you like it?

Weigh in on the IMAX preview. (If you are planning on seeing it this week maybe wait to vote).

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