Shown in front of IMAX screenings of The Hobbit, the opening 9 minutes of next May’s sci-fi blockbuster Star Trek Into Darkness is everything you could have wanted; a taster of things to come without giving anything away. Director JJ Abrams is Hollywood's king of misleading and teasing - he was the man behind Lost, Cloverfield and Super 8, some of the best viral marketing campaigns in history - and the footage he shows us here is akin to getting a lap-dance from the hottest person you know, leaving you begging for more and knowing you won’t be getting any for another six months. If you want to go into Star Trek Into Darkness pure, then this is the point to stop reading.
Still here? Good. The first thing we see is London in the year 2257, and we’re introduced to Noel Clarke and his on-screen wife, who are at a hospital visiting their apparently very sick daughter. Then Benedict Cumberbatch arrives, all ambiguous smiles and caramel voiced, claiming he can save their daughter’s life. "Who are you?", Clarke asks, the camera closes in on Cumberbatch’s face, and it cuts to black.
Suddenly we're on an M-Class Planet, with Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Karl Urban) on the run from some natives. It turns out they're trying to distract the locals while Spock (Zachary Quinto) drops into a near-by volcano with a "giant ice cube" bomb to stop it from erupting and destroying the whole planet. So while Kirk and Bones run through the impressively designed planet's foliage, avoiding the spears being hurled at their heads (and at ours, fully utilizing the impressive 3D), Spock is being dropped into the active volcano while his girlfriend Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) pilot the shuttle above to retrieve him when necessary. But all the ash from the volcano has affected
the shuttle's engines, forcing them to retreat and meet up with the just-escaped Kirk and Bones back aboard the Enterprise, which has been hiding out underwater nearby.
See, the Prime Directive of Star-Fleet is that there can be no interference with the development of an alien civilization, and that includes saving them from a planet-destroying volcano. So none of the crew or their ships can be seen by this race, and when we get back aboard the Enterprise and get re-introduced to the remaining crew members - Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) - they prepare to move the ship into position to save Spock via teleporter. But Spock reminds of them that doing this would break the Prime Directive, and warns them off. And this is how the scene ends, with Spock embracing his fate in the middle of the just-about-to-erupt volcano. Following this was a quick sizzle reel of footage, most of which was already seen in the teaser trailer.
And that’s your lot; amazing visuals, fantastic use of 3D, great character work and some impressive action. Pretty much everything that made 2009’s Star Trek so fantastic. But what the original did lack was a memorable villain, and Cumberbatch's so-far-underwraps bad guy will most likely remedy that. Rumours as to who he might be playing (Khan Noonien Singh? Gary Mitchell? John Harrison?) have the internet abuzz already with possible plotlines, but one thing is for certain; the crew of the Enterprise will certainly have their work cut out for them.
Star Trek Into Darkness will be in cinemas and IMAX from 17th May 2013.