Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Last Temptations Into Darkness

"No ship should go down without her captain..."

Paramount promotional poster
Following on from the Earth Will Fall Harrison poster we've now had it confirmed that the posters released in the last few days are the final ones we can expect before the film launches next month. The character posters (above) feature the four main protagonists in scenes from within the variety of 30 second, one minute and two minutes trailers however the really interesting bit is the fact that the "Big Three" we knew so well from the Original Series is now very clearly one doctor less and one communications officer more. I would take a stab that this is a clear attempt to build something of a female audience for Star Trek into Darkness focusing on a strong central role for Uhura.

The other pieces of visual paraphernalia we received were the unusual "cube" poster and the "Crash and Burn" starship poster (left). A bit similar to one of the Iron Man 3 promos also recently out on the market but instantly memorable. This certainly looks like the Enterprise and would collaborate well with the images we're familiar with from the trailer series. This final trailer also amalgamates the poster series, likewise focusing on Harrison and the USS Enterprise.

Amazing to think we've been running conspiracy theories since November, when that first teaser poster and mouth watering minute long trailer first broke cover. Now the last lure to get us into the cinema has arrived but what's new and does it give us anything more to talk about? Categorically YES .  

Well let's ease ourselves in gently with the MTV 30 second teaser which aired during their recent movie award ceremony. Nothing really to report here; more space jump, Spock and Harrison beating eight shades out of each other, Enterprise billowing smoke - but we do get Carol Marcus' first line of dialogue! She's heard all about Captain Kirk's reputation and it's delivered in a rather plumby English accent which was a surprise. It seems alternative universes can do a lot including change your place of birth although there's a variety of reasons that could be raised as to why her accent is totally different to Admiral 'Daddy' Marcus. Mainly this is just a great promotional chance to plug the May 17th opening in the States although how the USA will feel about a movie which has a bombing as it's opening segment given recent events could be interesting. Notably the start of the movie discussed that very topic at Cinema-Con this week. So on to our main topic, that third two minute burst of magnificence. 

As always I'm focusing more on the new sequences as well as how it fits in with the material we've already been gifted from Paramount and Bad Robot.

As we're led to believe, this is the Last Temptation of Star Trek before release day. The "Benedict Comberbatch Trailer".  Opening with cityscapes and including revisits to the red planet, the volcano drop, the space jump and the aerial fight sequence between Harrison and Spock you could be forgiven for thinking this is going to be recycled material or that once more it's going to be another two minutes of Kirk. Once he's had a heart to heart moment with Admiral Pike we get into serious business and shift gear. This is out-and-out a twofold teaser spotlighting secret agent John Harrison and the iconic USS Enterprise. To keep us aligned with the previous trailers and to set the scene for newcomers there's slim coverage of the attack on the Starfleet HQ in San Francisco by Harrison along with some wonderful night time aerial shots of the US city. Kirk is vocal in stating that the London attack could turn out to be "...all out war..." but before we get that confirmed it's time for Harrison to level some pot shots at the top brass.

This seems more linear to begin with and seems to be intended to help us understand the motivations for Kirk wanting to "...go get (that) son of a bitch..." and our first new clips come as Harrison arrives on the screen. For the first time in any trailer there is mention of his name in the CCTV feed we can see from the bombing in London which Cumberbatch's protagonist is also show escaping wearing a black Starfleet shirt. 

With Kirk kicking off with the Starfleet big guns to go after Harrison and of course gets his wish, our expectations at this stage might be that we're due for some Qo'nos scenes but this gets played right down in favour of some other breadcrumbs. While there is a glimpse of troops being dropped onto the Klingon homeworld we also our first snippet of the re-envisaged Klingons seemingly ready for battle (above right) and not on the cutting room floor as happened in 2009. What transpires at this point shifts the entire focus and feel of the trailer and potentially our expectations of the movie itself. 

There's a magnificent shot of Kirk framed by the glass view screen as something a lot darker is realised. All previous trailers have suggested that this will be a story about bringing Harrison to justice however with two booming sentences from the villain-apparent this trailer proves itself to be a perception changer; so much so I was almost requesting resuscitation: You're a pawn, Kirk. You can't even guarantee the safety of your own crew. Now shall we begin...?

Remember that ship that we saw briefly during the space jump? The one that is 99.9% likely to be the ship taking a close look at the bottom of San Francisco Bay? Well it's a lot bigger than we thought. A lot. It dwarfs the Enterprise and it seems that Harrison's drawn out Kirk for a purpose. This is a behemoth of a ship and from the saucer/secondary hull/nacelles configuration it's definitely Starfleet in origin. Is it from the future? A stealth ship? A secret design and is it decloaking? Now if it turns out to be called USS Reliant I'm not sure I'll be able to survive the shock.

Empire magazine May 2013
Well, it seems Kirk's made a big error letting his emotions overrun his mind and the Enterprise gets the kicking of a lifetime. I'd say it looks like a bigger pasting than any of the previous movies and whether she survives is anyone's guess right now. Still not answering the question of who John Harrison is; probably just adding a whole new section into the conspiracy theories! Scotty gets a line as Kirk hopes to save the stricken starship: "She's dead sir...she's gone!" but just in the background you can hear Kirk say "...No she's not..." (could also be Carol or Uhura he's on about).

While we watch the Enterprise begin her planetward dive, the new ship is kept firmly out of shot or in long distance and flash images. We've seen part of the new ship's bridge previously in a shot with JJ Abrams directing courtesy of Empire magazine (above) however what she was designed for or where she's come from is a puzzle. Are we looking at a future Enterprise and her vengeful captain? Is this an experimental Enterprise? Could this even be Abrams rethinking the Enterprise-D or E?! Now that would be fan-dividing and worse still is that would mean this is the second film in a row relying on time travel as a plot device. Kirk's space-jump now adds some more weight to the sequence when you realise that he's got to be heading for the new starship and could all that wreckage be from the crippled Enterprise perhaps? It's an interesting design nevertheless and I'm excited to find out more about this goliath of a starship.

Ok, let's move on swiftly. What else have we got? Well, intimations of the relationships between Kirk and Spock and Kirk and McCoy that have already been touched on before make appearances if only for Kirk's comrades to offer sage advice about his Ahab-style vendetta.There's also more samey clips from Spock in the volcano, Harrison carrying "April's Gatling Gun" on Qo'nos, speeding through the Klingon atmosphere in that little ship thing that will fit and Uhura even gets to tell us once more that they're "...outgunned and outnumbered...". Makes more sense once you've seen the size of the ship Harrison gets to play with!!!

The remaining 45 seconds is once again clips from previous trailers and you need to be keen-eyed to spot the new stuff. The ship crashing into the bay now makes more sense and the appearance of the Harrison Starship (good name for a band that...) starts to weave bits together nicely. A lot seems to be made of the Spock/Harrison chase and fight in San Francisco as it's in every trailer. Here we get Harrison's jump through a window, them fighting on that aerial platform and Spock running through the streets. I'm inclined to think that the shot of him dropping like a stone from the top of that building is from the same set piece. In retrospect of having watched this trailer numerous times now, there is a huge amount of previously seen footage book-ending the duelling starship sequences. These clips really slam home how much of a pounding the disadvantaged Federation flagship gets here from every angle. I'm surprised there's actually anything left at the end but something's got to give for the larger ship to take a nosedive.

To add another voice to the narrative here, I asked a friend of mine from the online community to drop his thoughts together about the new trailer. So for a few moments I'd like to hand over to Aaron Gallo from the Starfleet Escape Podcast

For a long time I was holding on to the theory that Harrison was one of the Augments that were found aboard the Botany Bay. With the releases of new trailers, that theory is holding less and less water. With the release of the latest trailer however, I have a new theory that in my mind ties together many ends.
  1. Harrison works for the shadow group known as Section 31.
  2. The Dreadnought ship is part of Section 31's operations.
  3. Harrison and Section 31 were working with the Klingon's to develop a cure for the Augment Virus.
  4. The program was cancelled, meaning the destruction of Augments created for research, possibly including Harrison himself.
  5. Harrison's "family" are the Augments that he is trying to save and protect.
Now granted this is a lot to infer from solely watching the clips from the trailers. This would however explain what appear to be cryo-containers and the look of Harrison's ship, which seems to go against standard principles of Starfleet design.

Thanks for that, Aaron - I've actually forgotten to mention the cryo-pods!

This is pretty heavy going from start to finish - danger, action, excitement and not a hand-on-glass The Wrath of Khan homage in sight. Out of the three larger trailers this is the most impressive, giving the most extensive cross-section of information but it's the comparison with the three together to see where events might sit that's even more fun. Is the Spock/Harrison fight at the beginning or near the end? Are we inclined to think that the Enterprise crumbles after they've been to Qo'nos? There's still so much to answer and not much time left until Star Trek Into Darkness premieres. As we've been told it's about family; sacrifice and every trailer has demonstrated these elements with great aplomb.  Harrison seems to be protecting something and what is it that's been started? What's his argument with Starfleet and/or the Federation and why is Kirk so hell-bent on going after him? In fact the recent Cinema-Con suggested that at some point in the movie there's an alliance between Kirk and Harrison. Now I had the thought that it might turn out Cumberbatch's character isn't the main villain of the piece and is only set as such because of the way the trailers have been slanted and within the movie story, how his motives and actions are seen by Kirk.

In relation to Prime Universe Star Trek, this seems to pack more of a punch. While it does that with its action will it also manage that with emotion? To keep the franchise alive I now think this shift in storytelling and return to origins may be the best way forward - give the audience what it wants and make changes to ensure we see out another 50 years of adventures of Gene Roddenberry's legendary vision. It's certainly grim and I would hasten to add that I don't expect it to be a wholly happy ending as with the 2009 reboot. I'm very excited (male that overly excited) about what's coming (and my other half is getting pretty ratted off about it I can tell you!)

Since that initial trailer back in November, I for one have had moments of doubt and instances of amazement from the material we've received from JJ Abrams and the Bad Robot production team.  This could be a cinematic masterpiece and after reading Aaron's points above, I'm inclined to agree with some of it - the Augments section is something that's not been touched on that much but here's hoping it does!

So just as a final point, here are my five favourite bits from this stunning marketing campaign (so far)

1. Motion poster

Great idea, totally new concept and well executed. Complimented well with Cumberbatch's Harrison asking if we think the world is safe. It's an illusion y'know....

2. The crashing starship in the first trailer

Like we saw that coming. Has to be the first jaw-dropper of the whole marketing campaign, even better because we thought it was the Enterprise when it first screened. It almost felt like JJ was flicking the "V"'s at all of Star Trek fandom. Hope this pays off in the movie. Great twist in the fact we got the Enterprise crumbling and falling from the sky which made you think they were one and the same ship. Only later did we realise differently...! Ok, it's actually been in a lot of the trailers during that space jump sequence but we've overlooked it really until now - and boy did we misjudge how it was going to be involved in the plot. It's big, it's black and it looks like it packs one helluva punch.

Taken from post on Google+

3. The Easter Egg URLs

Didn't notice them to begin with due to some sneaky hiding; especially THAT one in the background of the Carol Marcus shot....

4. Is He, Isn't He...?
John Harrison has been suggested as being everyone from Khan to the Queen and then Data's cat at some point. That's the way to get interest, grab the fans and snowball the frenzy for May 2013. So...have you worked it out yet? Is he a Horta?!

5. The Enterprise

Out of the water or out of the sky - hard to decide. Both look just as jaw-dropping although the amount of damage we saw initially in the second trailer was impressive. 

...and for the record, the not-so-good point:

The Mobile App

It hasn't worked for ages, it's very USA orientated and I've been disappointed that it's not picking up images at all. Great idea, poor experience although thanks for getting it released in the UK as well as the USA and Canada. I hope the film is a significant amount better and nowhere near as shoddy.

So here we are, the promo campaign is coming to a close, everything we see is what we're going to get until nine days into May. Get your tickets booked and iron that uniform, cadet - we're another step closer to Darkness....

"I believe in you, Jim."

All pictures are screenshots taken by SKOST unless otherwise stated

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