Star Trek: Into Darkness International Trailer (Review)

Dear me, Mr. Holmes, dear me. The latest trailer for Star Trek: Into Darkness is some seriously manipulative shit: poorly put together, ridden with clichés and nowhere near as promising as its predecessor, it nevertheless promises a CG spectacular that makes you hit the repeat button again…and again…and again.

Not having done as much Trek homework as is currently available i.e. the gorgeous spread in Empire, I’m considerably helped out by the trailer’s filling out of some of the plot holes. Much-hyped baddy John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), described as one of Starfleet’s ‘top agents,’ commits some kind of atrocity in London, which leads to an emergency meeting of Starfleet Command, all of whom are subsequently blown up/shot when Harrison comes at the building with a helicopter before beaming out. Kirk and company consequently obtain Starfleet’s reluctant permission to pursue, though we’re informed by some fairly dreadful acting by Karl Urban (‘Jim, you’re not seriously going after this guy…are you?’) that chances of coming back alive are fairly slim. Kirk, Spock and Uhura then succeed in apprehending Harrison, who, in possibly the most interesting dialogue in this trailer, seems to be a narcissistic megalomaniac, simultaneously professing, with delightful candour, that ‘your commanders have committed a crime I cannot forgive’ and threatening to walk over the cold corpses of his captors. How he actually escapes and causes an immense variety of CG havoc including the Enterprise crashing into the bay of San Francisco in a less than heart-warming tribute to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, naturally remains a mystery.

The previous trailer promised character development, emotion, and I hate to say it, darkness, not necessarily the end of the world but the end of the soul. This trailer is entirely about plot. Yes, it’s certainly important to talk about plot (though not imperative – things would be a lot more mysterious), but shouldn’t something be added to that, so that it seems less superficial? The first Star Trek movie was brilliant precisely because it was able to pile the evolving personalities and psychologies of the characters, particularly Spock, onto a solid, intelligent plot line that made it a good movie as opposed to a good Sci-Fi movie, which is quite something else. Unless we want things to go the way of Star Trek: Nemesis, that level of creation needs to be maintained, or things will sink very fast. This trailer is seductive: it promises an infinite number of thrills, the possibility of imminent death, gorgeous locations and constructive worldbuilding in its CGI. But there’s also dreadful script and just too many clichés (When our leaders have fallen, a hero will rise; they only have one chance; we’re outgunned and outnumbered). And in terms of its cast, everything looks same-old same-old; Kirk reckless, Spock dry-humoured, Uhura the eternal pessimist.

Conclusion: this could very well turn into a gorgeous mess with Benedict Cumberbatch carrying the weight of everyone else’s acting on his shoulders. Or the producers decided to do one trailer for plot and one for character, and I’m just overreacting.  Either way, this new trailer is endlessly captivating despite its faults and makes May 16th seem very far away.

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Musings on the new trailer of Star Trek Into Darkness.

star-trek-into-darkness-teaser-19There hasn’t been as much speculation flying around the many great kingdoms of Science Fiction since River Song’s reign of awesome on Doctor Who that (sadly) came to an end last year. No sooner had the Star Trek franchise been so incandescently reborn in 2009 that a veritable deluge of debate started about the sequel, all boiling down to one thing: is it Khan, or isn’t it? I’ll spare you all the various stages of this sometimes-tiresome saga, like Karl Urban’s maybe-maybe not faked slip of the tongue and the leaked fight scene in which Chris Pine appears to be clobbering the shit out of Benedict Cumberbatch and just talk about the new trailer, which admirably creates more questions and gets us praying more fervently that Sheldon Cooper might take inspiration from Admiral Kirk and find a way to transport all trekkies to May 17th so we don’t have to be subjected to this kind of torture.

startrek2trailer_620_120612In the announcement trailer, which came out a while back, all we got was a perfectly-constructed series of Doomsday images and intermittent shots of Kirk, Spock and Uhura looking shocked and battle-worn (I won’t mention the blonde with the bob, who looks rather sinister), together with Cumberbatch’s beautiful voice telling us to ‘enjoy these final moments of peace, for I have returned to have my vengeance.’ In the teaser, that reached us late last night in South Africa, we have a lot of the same thing, but with all kinds of interesting goodies to keep us occupied for the time being.

QnJIbFFVWEZ6Zncx_o_star-trek-into-darkness---extra-footage-japanese-teaser-This time, we’re treated to a minimalist but moving monologue by McCoy (I think) promising that the hubris of the divine James Tiberius is going to get everyone on the Enterprise killed, after which Benedict takes over again, and we get our first good look at him as prospective baddy from his cell in the brig. He appears to be human. He’s wearing a Starfleet uniform (oh, the potential in that choice of wardrobe!). We get some new Doomsday-type scenes and a few old ones that he appears to be responsible for (all of which promise tons of destruction, fighting, spectacular landscapes and impeccable CG), before cutting back to the brig and him somewhat mournfully asking ‘Is there anything you would not do for your family?’ Cut to something that was allegedly featured in the extra-footage Japanese trailer: (someone’s) hand attempting to touch his from the other side of the glass, fingers doing ‘live long and prosper’. Cue hysteria.

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-ImageI must confess that my heart sank at this point, possibly because I haven’t quite recovered from the absurd cloning mishap that formed the central plotline of that awful, disappointing mess of Star Trek: Nemesis. About two seconds later, I changed my mind: the producers of this film have learned from the experience of that one. Then there’s the unknown identity of the hand on the other side of the glass: yes, yes, I know it’s either Kirk or Spock (see image), culturally, it’s probably Spock. So is this guy Spock’s brother? (I hope not, he was dreadful enough the first time round, plus Spock got all the revenge stuff last time). Does all this ‘I will have my vengeance’ stuff have a family twist to it? Who says this is connected to Spock at all? It could be connected to Kirk, hence all this talk about getting his crew killed. Or maybe the guy just lost his family. But that’s too similar to the plotline of the previous film.

To tell the truth, I really hope it’s connected to Kirk. Here’s why I say so. One of the few failings of the previous film was one that could not really have been prevented: Spock overshadowed Kirk considerably, because Zachary Quinto’s Spock is a masterpiece. It draws on all the classic character traits of Nimoy’s achievement, but also does a sublime job on the young Spock’s struggle with how to cope with his humanity: what results is an exterior logic and serenity combined with a violent undercurrent of passion and pathos. The whole movie somehow became about him, when Kirk got almost as much screen time. That doesn’t mean I think Chris Pine is a bad actor, he just didn’t have a lot to work with. In this movie, it would be nice to see Kirk struggling with some demons and getting his teeth into some intense stuff. A Kirk-centric movie would definitely not be a bad idea.

(Of course, all of this could just be another fake Easter egg left along the way. I can’t decide if this is cruelty or kindness. Make us wait, keep us busy. Which is better?)

WATCH-Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-teaser-trailer-releasedThen of course there are the infinite possibilities of a bad guy played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who has already successfully demonstrated that he’s excellent at playing sociopathic (Sherlock) and skin-crawling (Atonement) individuals. One of the great things about this trailer is that we get conclusive proof that he can be both a maniacal, revenge-crazed villain and somebody who can make us feel with him all in the same role. Personally, I love those kind of villains simply because I’m bored stiff with the standard 1D Hollywood villain with a British accent (and I know a load of other people are too), so that’s probably top of my personal highlights list as far as this movie goes.

Naturally, the title has infinite potential, and I can’t help wondering if this film is consequently going to do for the Star Trek universe what Quantum of Solace did for James Bond: give us a nice dollop of grief and depression to explore the more emo side of the characters that we presume to know so well. The AU situation of these films makes this not just possible but very probable and I think it would be great to see it not just in Kirk (see above), but in characters who haven’t been permitted much development up till now, like Bones, Sulu, Chekov, Uhura and Scotty.

In the meantime, let us watch, wait and imagine.