This report is completely spoiler-free.
With news this week that the UK release date for STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS has been pushed forward to May 9th, it’s now only nine weeks until we solve the niggling puzzle of who Benedict Cumberbatch’s character really is.
Producer Bryan Burk was on hand this afternoon to introduce the opening thirty minutes of footage and two more clips (after a very friendly, personalised introduction from Abrams himself), explaining their choice to show it in 2D. With Bad Robot known for their Nolan-scale secrecy, this taster served to considerably heighten anticipation for the final 3D product, leaving us in the dark as to the true identity of Cumberbatch’s John Harrison and any major plot points.
Throwing us straight into the action with no time spent recapping the events of the last film, the tone is set from the start – exciting and full throttle, but always with a healthy shred of comedy. While trying to save a planet from being destroyed, Spock is unfortunately dropped into the middle of a very active volcano, upping the action stakes right from the start. However, in the undergrowth below, Kirk and Bones are running away from a hostile tribe, cracking jokes and keeping it light – we’re carrying on exactly where we left off and this thankfully feels like a natural continuation.
One of the standout elements from this opening footage is the incredible use of colour. With stunning primary reds and yellows used to great effect against the backdrop of the luminescent lava that threatens to engulf our favourite Vulcan, the 3D experience screams to be seen on the biggest IMAX screen you can find.
Having completely forgotten Noel Clarke was involved, the opening sequence involving him and our first meeting with John Harrison is set in a futuristic London and, more specifically, a children’s hospital. What unfolds here sets the wheels in motion for the phenomenally impressive devastation we got to see in the third clip – all the more impressive when we remember the effects still aren’t finished. This assures that INTO DARKNESS will keep an element of grounded, human realism to it alongside its crazy creatures, and setting it in London creates a surprisingly seamless parallel to what is happening out in deepest, darkest space.
Everything you expect, we witnessed. From Spock and Kirk continued in a constant battle of wit, Kirk bed hopping and wisecracking, and space scenes that boggle the mind, this footage promises so much more. It’s exciting to learn that there is a significant progression in the amount of footage shot in IMAX following on from the success of what was achieved in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL, with some stomach-churning aerial shots involving cityscapes and water guaranteed to blow your mind.
Though the editing, effects and music were not finished, J.J. Abrams’ eagerly anticipated sequel-without-a-colon looks certain to blow 2009’s STAR TREK out of the water in regards to both scale and ambition. And the best bit of all? You’re so engrossed that your mind doesn’t allow you to once think about STAR WARS.