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.