Thursday, 21 March 2013

Bringing Star Trek Into Darkness?


"Your commanders have committed a crime I cannot forgive. None of you are safe…have I got your attention now?"


The more I see of this film the more I get concerned. There are some great soundbytes, amazing visuals, a stellar cast and lots of action and explosions all round. All the great signs of a film which will undoubtedly become one of 2013's biggest blockbusters. Yet more and more I'm inclined to think of it as being a great sci-fi film rather than a fantastic addition to the Star Trek universe(s). 


March 21st 2013 has given us a new poster for the 3D version of STID and a two minute trailer. If the previous minutes of footage we received were Kirk's teaser this is firmly in Harrison territory from the first second. So what's new? At first you'd be forgiven for thinking that this might t be a rehash of all that has come before. Harrison rumbles that our world isn't safe once more, we see a glimpse of 23rd Century London and then the bomb go off. Looks like Harrison isn't one afraid to get his hands dirty and this really could be a one on one, face to face grudge match from the very start. Cue Paramount mountain and Bad Robot logo; we're going in for some more theories.






We've got our first look at Admiral Marcus as senior Starfleet officers meet to discuss the attack on London perpetrated by - one of their own TOP agents - Harrison of course. Ok, so this means he's an officer but not a starship captain. Early version of Section 31 possible here? Was Harrison an undercover agent (on Qo'noS?) Likely to be too much to ask but hey, we can dream for some Prime Universe continuity can't we?! I also sadly ended up humming Bruce Willis' Secret Agent Man whenever he appeared in the rest of the trailer because of this. For that I apologise.


IN OUR DARKEST HOUR...



Harrison chooses this time to attack in his little ship with big guns, providing Kirk with a moment to play the hero and rush to the aid of his Starfleet colleagues in need. Clearly this is all important as to why Kirk chooses to go after Harrison as he's there when carnage commences. I would theorise that the flag folding scene we get here once more is for either someone killed in this incident. Pike or Marcus would be the likely casualties; although the former more so as it would provide more logic to Kirk's desire to go after the fugitive agent. It also works with the dialogue we get between Marcus and the captain:
Kirk: I request permission to go after him.
Marcus: Starfleet is not about vendettas Kirk.
Kirk: Maybe it should be.
There's a lot more of Carol Marcus seen here in a very literal sense and I got that uneasy feeling of whether this is one of those images that will be associated with this film over anything else and repeatedly. A shame if they need to sell it on sex but that's a sign of the times once again. However, I am reminded that the original series wasn't adverse to the odd William Ware Theiss creation! I hope Alice Eve's acting in STID means she's remembered for more than this one shot although the news that Kirk beds two cat-women doesn't help the overall cause. Carol does however goet some more trailer time here, apparently watching Harrison kick Kirk into the ground and also facing Harrison accompanied by Doctor McCoy (above).


WHEN OUR LEADERS HAVE FALLEN...



The Klingon home world of Qo'noS is explored some more with manly posturing from Harrison  (above) and the Enterprise crew going into action with phasers drawn as well as piloting that ship we saw in the previous "Kirk teaser". I am now very convinced that it WILL fit and that it DOES qualify. Nicely this does suggest that the camaraderie that we were used to in the Prime Universe has been retained and there's a cheeky spark between them - McCoy manages to retain his advisor role that we were so familiar with when he was part of the original Big Three.

How much time is going to be spent with the as-yet unseen Klingons is a question I would raise from this two minute tempter as they've been overlooked until this point. Hopefully their role will be significantly more than they got in '09. Is this the place where we get to see Kirk and crew out-manned and outgunned by Harrison and April's gatling gun as Uhura states near the trailer's end? Is the rogue Starfleet agent allied with the classic foe? Is this mission linked back to some sort of mission that April, and first officer Marcus and that era's Enterprise participated in? I'm running mad with the theories again aren't I...calm down....One thing though; this is certainly a darker, grittier and less welcoming(?) home world of the Klingon people than we've experienced in TNG. It might even be less hospitable than the dilithium mines of Rura Penthe.


There's some words of warning from McCoy wondering if Kirk really is going after Harrison (now I'm really leaning on the vengeance for Pike's death theory) and Sulu gets to repeat his "...we gotta do it now" line again from the "Kirk teaser" but if you're looking for Scotty or Chekov here you'll be disappointed. Talking of Sulu in the scene where Kirk is talking to McCoy in the shuttlebay, the craft sitting just behind them is named Takay. Now the homage rumours are that it's for George Takei but more concrete thoughts are that it's for a surfer friend of JJ called Takayama who died last year. Ok, back to Chekov after that mini-interlude - the Russian ensign is completely missing from the Harrison trailer and Scotty can be seen in a blink-and-miss fight when John-boy goes into one-man army mode in the still here - just see if you can spot him in the background. Just goes to show that this film is much more focused towards the big three and unfortunately for the good physician it seems that he's been abruptly replaced by Uhura as you can see from the latest poster displayed here.


"I have no idea what I am supposed to do. I only know what I can do." - James T Kirk


Kirk is very much looking to make Harrison "...answer for what (he) did..." but that can only spell trouble and even more mayhem and destruction. Whether it's all part of the Starfleet agent's plan to get captured on Qo'noS and returned to Earth on the Enterprise remains to be uncovered but at the rate they're pumping out trailers we should be able to stick the whole film together by the end of next month. What leaves you questioning the film though is exactly what Harrison is accusing Kirk of not knowing about?  What has he done? Was capturing Harrison a mistake? I'm going to say a big yes because he gets a proper pummelling and as we know, Harrison is better at everything which means it was a super-pummelling of galactic proportions. What is it with Cumberbatch's voice - it's mega-English and also really echoey. It's very sinister and really gives me a chill when I hear it. This guy could become one of the great villains of Star Trek overnight if the film does him anywhere near as much justice as the trailers have.




THEY HAVE ONE CHANCE...

When the airborne fight sequence between Harrison and Spock takes place is anyone's guess but it would seem to link in to the oft-seen building jump and it's on some kind of mobile platform which will leave effects and fight fans dribbling. It looks like this will also include Uhura as early teaser shots included her at this point in uniform. Again Cumberbatch's rogue agent is certainly laying some serious poundings onto the crew and this time the Vulcan XO is taking the brunt - is there anyone who he isn't going to cause injury to?


What this is all leading up to is a blow by blow big set piece of the iconic Enterprise swan-diving into the atmosphere while losing hull plating before (and I'm assuming it's the same ship but I might be wrong) seeing her plough into the San Francisco bay. We got a nice shot of her earlier in the trailer as well as a warp-shot but the last 15 seconds is all about what could be THE segment of the movie as the starship barrels into the city causing some serious collateral damage. How they're going to bring the ship out of that is beyond my thoughts at the moment and we don't have that long left before we can actually find out how it all comes together! One consideration is that we'll have to make do with a new ship for 2016 or they'll bring back April's decommissioned vessel mentioned in Countdown to Darkness and mentioned on my last STID blog.
...TO SAVE US ALL


The other clever bit about the trailer is the hidden url behind Carol Marcus when Kirk is weighing up the odds. For those of you who want it, here's where it is (and thanks to +Justin Chung for pointing this one out on the G+ Star Trek Community). Very cleverly hidden and the first time I've heard anything like this being done. Where it takes you is to the new 3D poster as featured here but more on that in a second. Those clever folks at Paramount/Bad Robot certainly are  trying a lot of new stuff out on the promo trail for this film - if only the app would TAKE A PICTURE and register it then we'd all be happy - yes, it still isn't working on my S3. Wonder how they'll top this or that moving advert?


 "I will walk over your cold corpses..." - John Harrison


Anyway - the poster. I liked the Starfleet emblem/Harrison teaser poster; the Enterprise in the drink was really different but why oh why are we going for the Bad Boys-esque guns and posing routine here? That's what makes me grumble. Just when you can see STID giving some respect towards the franchise that inspired it we get a very drab and average poster that effectively says "Action Movie in 3D". I've seen a lot of murmurs and general dissatisfaction over the film and even I have said a few things less than favourable but we're all still judging this on a series of trailers. That can't be right. It might be a damn good film and all of fandom is sitting in judgement before it's even premiered. It deserves at the very least a full watch through and then we can make a decision. So far it looks brilliant and this trailer has added more questions, a few answers and a smidgen of grandiose into the proceedings. I'm going to hold off digging the franchise a grave yet. I think we might even be surprised. I enjoyed 2009's offering and while it was very different we must remember that it is an interpretation and no, it probably isn't canon because of the whole universe thing but maybe that just doesn't matter. Let's sit back and be entertained. It's a story about family and I would suggest a story about Kirk coming to some sort of peace with himself. I hope it's an epic journey that Roddenberry would be proud of.


"This could just be the beginning" - James T Kirk


As an aside from this, I finally got round to watching Trek Nation which had been residing on the Sky hard-drive for a couple of months and there's an interesting piece where JJ gets shown footage of Roddenberry, by his son, Eugene Jr, hoping that someone does make a better version of Star Trek than he did and that it focuses on the first meetings of his now-legendary characters from The Original Series. It changed my thoughts on the Abrams universe that maybe it's time to accept that this is Star Trek for a new generation; it's a re-imagining and perhaps deserves just as much a place in the history of the franchise as every other interpretation. Sure there are bound to be a few missteps but it needed a kick and probably we're all too scared to admit that the whole universe needed a rethink. The trailers are there for a reason - they need to excite and intrigue and given the fact we've donated a massive chunk of the internet to it over the last few months I reckon he can probably tick that off as a success. We're all talking about it in Trekdom aren't we?


"I watched you murder innocent men and women. 
I will make you answer for what you did." - James T Kirk


After all, we accept Voyager and Enterprise which Gene was never involved with and that's exactly the same here except that JJ Abrams has gone back and done a bit of fiddling with the timeline. Who are we to decide whether or not Star Trek should be reinvigorated for a new generation? Did we tell Berman, Piller and Taylor how to run Voyager or did we see how it evolved? Did we turn it off after two or four hours? Don't think so and the same is true here. This is only the second of JJ's attempts at bringing Trek back and in a big screen format. He knows what gets bums on seats (said that before!) and is trying to keep the fans happy too. 


Here's another thought for you - for a film and series that's supposed to be about journeying into the stars and exploring the final frontier these two films have been surprisingly Earth-centric - maybe this is one of those reasons why we're not getting that Trek vibe. There's a little on Qo'noS and that red planet but the chunk of the stuff here is all seen on our homeworld. Maybe the third one will go where no man (or no one of course) has gone before and give us something truly new and different. We've had Klingons, Romulans and bad Starfleet officers - maybe Reboot Trek 3 could be JJ's big chance to do something utterly new and unique that makes this standout and extra-memorable? The unknown just hasn't been seen and I've only just really realised that that's the case! Action and adventure is all well and good for the audience but we can get that from any movie can't we? Star Trek was about pushing the boundaries of storytelling and imagination not explosions and ray guns and who shoots first (Roddenberry said something along these lines in a 1986 interview that was included in the 25th Anniversary special). Creating a story set on Earth for the majority won't keep fans attentions. Yes it's good to see Trek taking on stories of "modern day" themes such as terrorism but it was about how they were portrayed through clever writing and alien characters while the Enterprise explored and not slam-obvious in-the-face on Earth - is this a sign of the decent into very 1,2,3 storytelling by numbers rather than something that will provoke and intrigue that we got for a lot of those 700 TV episodes and 10 films?

A difficult job, a lot to ask and a long time to go. For now Abrams needs a decent return at the box office from Star Trek Into Darkness and if that happens I think he might even deserve a "well done" from us all. So, JJ - what's the plans for 2016 if all goes well in May???


Well done if you're reading this...but what's that just below....



 It's a blog Easter Egg! (well, I got inspired by JJ and STID....)



So I got some news from Diamond Select the other day - they're releasing a range based on the Classic Mirror Universe! Great news and if you're reading this I suspect you've found the additional section in my Star Trek Into Darkness blog (OK, it's not that well hidden).



Here's the press release and some images just to whet the appetite. Of course, when you're using the restickered ISS Enterprise you'll have to remember to fly it from right to left because it's Mirror....



Fans of Star Trek and Minimates alike have been anxiously awaiting the release of the USS Enterprise in Minimate Vehicle form, and the stylized starship is only a few short months away from being in stores. Now, Diamond Select Toys and Art Asylum are happy to announce a new Minimates Starship that's exclusively at Entertainment Earth!



From the classic Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror," it's the I.S.S. Enterprise! In a mirror universe, Captain Kirk and his crew are bloodthirsty representatives of a cruel civilization. This exclusive version of the Minimate Enterprise includes the distinctive Terran Empire markings and comes with Kirk in his sleeveless gold tunic! The I.S.S. Enterprise's engineering section opens up to reveal a Jefferies Tube, and the bridge opens up to reveal the removable command chair. Includes an adjustable display base!



The Mirror Enterprise reaches Earth in May -- pre-order today!



Got to say Mirror Kirk looks pretty good. Also worth looking out for the other eight figures that are planned to be released in May/June, tying in to Enterprise, films, TNG and DS9 with Archer, a Xindi, Kirk and Khaaaaaaaan, movie Picard and the Borg Queen, Sisko and a Jem'Hadar. In the UK they look to be selling for around £7.99 per pair. For once, I'm sorely tempted....


Images from Star Trek Into Darkness trailer from trekmovie.com
Images of Minimates Mirror Universe toys courtesy of diamondselecttoys 
Star Trek Into Darkness poster from hidden url on trailer!