Monday, 10 December 2012

Trailer Talk: "Star Trek Into Darkness"

A new trailer arrived last week for Star Trek Into Darkness, director JJ Abrams' sequel to his 2009 Star Trek reboot. It's been a while since  first film so it's nice that we're finally getting some footage to dissect. As many know, Benedict Cumberbatch, BBC's Sherlock Holmes, is playing the film's villain. There's been a lot of speculation about who the villain in the film actually is. This trailer still doesn't reveal this information, so the guessing amongst fans continues. Some believe Khan to be the villain, the genetically enhanced superman played memorably by Ricardo Montalban in the original series episode "Space Seed," as well as what's considered the greatest of all Trek films, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  I personally don't believe he's Khan. This is because, while the new series is taking place is an alternate timeline, the altered timeline still takes place within the established Trek universe, where Khan was written as an Indian Sikh. His race probably wouldn't be different due to the events of the altered timeline from the first film. From the set pictures and trailers, Cumberbatch doesn't have any makeup that would designate him as an Indian Sikh.

Another popular guess for who the villain is, is Lt. Commander Gary Mitchell, a character who appeared in the original series episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before." Mitchell was a friend of Captain James T. Kirk's and helmsman of the Enterprise, who, after an accident, gains god like powers that make him a threat to the Enterpise and the universe. While Mitchell only appeared in one episode,  I think the character could work for a feature length film. The trailer, as well as the above poster, showcases Cumberbatch as a one man destructive force, which would be line with Mitchell's powers. Mitchell would also be a more interesting and somewhat obscure selection for the villain than Khan, who, while definitive, would be too safe a choice.  Fans have also mentioned that Alice Eve, another new addition to the cast, has a strikingly similar hairdo to Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, a character who also appeared in 'Where No Man Has Gone Before." She along with Mitchell, also gained god like powers. While at first she was as power hungry as Mitchell, Kirk was able to convince her to help him defeat Mitchell. Could we be looking at a battle royale between two god like forces in this film? Now that could provide some exciting action scenes.

I enjoyed the hell out of Abrams Star Trek back in 2009. In preparation for that film I went back and started to watch the original Star Trek series from the 1960s. When I finally the film, it was a real pleasure and a thrill to see the original Trek characters reimagined for a new generation. Looking back, the film probably leaned a little bit too much towards the action blockbuster route, without much of the interesting and philosophical conversations and allegorical story elements that have a been a defining trait of the Trek mythology. I hope that in Star Trek Into Darkness, Abrams explores more of how this world relates to ours as well as having those philosophical debates that will show the different points of view from Kirk, Spock and Bones' perspectives. The idea of having god like powers and whether any man or woman should have these kinds of powers, could provide some great brain food to go along with the action.

Like most teaser trailers, this teaser is more about setting the mood then giving away the entire plot, which is does quite well, with Cumberbatch's voice over telling everyone to enjoy peace while it lasts because he's coming back for vengeance. We get the sense that Cumberbatch is going to hit Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew very hard. I really love when movie villains bring hell down on the heroes, taking their established world and destroying it, like the Joker and Bane in Christopher Nolan's Batman films or Javier Bardem's Silva in the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. And of course, the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) in next year's Iron Man 3.  I am worried though, that revenge being the Cumberbatch's character's motivation isn't that compelling, particularly since revenge was Nero's (Eric Bana) motivation in the first film. I would hope there's something more three dimensional and unique about this guy then just being vengeful. I do love that final bit where Cumberbatch is in the captain's chair on the Enterprise, with he and Kirk just looking at each other, Cumberbatch basically saying, without words, "Yeah, this is my chair now, what are you going to do about it?"

The final moments of the Japanese trailer also shows what is very clearly an homage to Spock's famous "death" scene from The Wrath of Khan, with Spock's (Zachary Quinto) hand behind glass, with what appears to be Cumberbatch's hand pressing against it on the other side. Does this hint at some personal connection between the two. If Cumberbatch is Mitchell, then it'd make sense. So, I'm looking forward to seeing these characters again as well as what Cumberbatch will bring to the villain role. This is probably just behind Man of Steel as being my most anticipated of 2013's blockbusters. Again, I hope there's some depth to go along with the action, especially since the original did focus on making us care about these characters. And I hope, even with Gary Mitchell, that this sequel goes where no other Star Trek film has gone...before.

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