Saturday, December 08, 2012

a glimpse "into darkness"

Have you seen the trailer for "Star Trek into Darkness" yet? It's a corny title, especially given the deliberate omission of a colon ("Star Trek: Into Darkness"), but the trailer itself looks fairly compelling. As teasers are wont to do (see the trailer on YouTube here), this one provides us with only quick glimpses. We see:

-an outdoor speech being given, possibly by Kirk (Chris Pine), in the midst of a tall city

-jets flying in formation overhead (they still use jets in the 23rd century, eh?)

-Kirk and McCoy (Karl Urban) running through a jungle of red plants on a gorgeous planet full of water, a Mayan-like structure, and more such plants

-a superhuman villain (haughtily cheekboned Benedict Cumberbatch) capable of high leaps and feats of strength and sniper accuracy-- bent on vengeance

-people staring in horror at city-wide destruction, plus other scenes of urban and intra-ship mayhem

-a quick glimpse of Kirk punching the villain

-Spock in a volcano amid towering eruptions of lava

-Spock running through a city, and holding his phaser at the ready

-Scotty (with more Scotty-like hairdo) comforting someone (possibly Uhura)

-a ship rising out of the water

-a ship plunging into a bay-- the Enterprise taking a swim in San Francisco Bay?

-quick glimpses of other Trek cast members

All in all, this looks to be another JJ Abrams trademark run-desperately-through-the-corridors adventure. Why have cast members walk when they can sprint or swing or fly or leap or tumble all the time? It's almost as if Abrams were pushing some sort of Kurzweilian post-human agenda: "Walking is archaic, guys! We were meant for so much more!"

The basic story apparently revolves around Cumberbatch's villain, a nearly unstoppable force (we can rest assured he will be stopped, with no loss of life among the Enterprise's bridge crew) who has returned to Earth to exact some sort of revenge, and he begins by totalling Starfleet and rendering our planet helpless. There was speculation, for a time, that the villain might be a retread of Ricardo Montalban's Khan Noonien Singh from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (and, previously, from the Trek classic episode "The Space Seed")-- a genetically engineered physical, intellectual, and emotional force of nature who was gunning for Captain Kirk after fifteen years of miserable exile on a barren, blasted world. Cumberbatch's villain appears to fit, at least partially, the Khan model, but he's never named, and I seriously doubt that his revenge specifically targets Kirk, who is far too young to become the victim of an "old grudge." ("Remember that thing you did to me last week? Well, I'm back!")

I predict this installment won't involve any time travel. That's a safe bet. I also suspect that, since the movie writeups claim most of the adventure takes place on Earth, the scene with Kirk and McCoy on the red-jungle planet is likely a prelude mini-adventure, just something to get the audience's juices flowing. The Spock-in-lava scene is harder to place; it could be a major scene later in the film, or part of the same prelude. The scene in which a ship rises ponderously from the depths of the ocean probably takes place later in the movie; it's hard to tell whether the ship is the Enterprise, but on one nacelle an "NCC..." is visible.

Whatever the full story may be, I'm primed to be entertained. While the 2009 "Star Trek" was laced with ridiculous Hollywood physics (e.g., old Spock's wild claim that a supernova threatened the entire galaxy), it was kinetic, gripping storytelling, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm sure this new film, set to be released in May of 2013, will be just as entertaining. Abrams has said that the tone and thrust of this new film is similar to that of "The Dark Knight," which I hope means a more cerebral, personal trek among the stars.



Charles said...

I'll take Star Trek's "running desperately through the corridors" over the Star Wars prequels' "walk placidly through the corridors"--while the fate of the universe hangs in the balance!


(Mace Windu and Anakin are walking slowly through a grand, computer-generated "set." Both stop and Anakain turns to Windu.)

Anakin: Dude, I'm pretty sure that the Chancellor is the Sith Lord.

Windu: Really? That's some heavy news. We should tell the Jedi Council immediately.

(The two continue to walk slowly through the scene, chit-chatting about the latest Coruscant gossip.)

If you've got some place to be, and the situation is urgent, you run.

Kevin Kim said...

Point taken.