10 things we learned from the Star Trek Into Darkness preview

Spoiler warning: behind the scenes secrets from JJ Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness Benedict Cumberbatch
Star Trek Into Darkness Benedict Cumberbatch
Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch plays mysterious villain John Harrison in Star Trek Into Darkness

SciFiNow was lucky to catch the first UK screening of the opening nine minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness. Also in attendance was producer Bryan Burk as well as British actors Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch. The audience was even treated to recorded messages from actor Simon Pegg and JJ Abrams. Here’s what this first taster taught us:

1. Abrams loves to pull at heartstrings

He killed off Papa Kirk (oh look, Thor) within ten minutes of his first Star Trek movie and it looks like Abrams is looking to hit that emotional core again. Star Trek Into Darkness opens in London, 2259 with Noel Clarke as an unnamed family man who visits his gravely ill daughter in hospital. A very distinctive voice tells Clarke’s character that he can save his daughter. Of course that voice belongs to Benedict Cumberbatch, but who is he playing?

2. The villain remains mysterious

Just how can he save the little girl? Is he Khan or isn’t he? This debate is going to rage on until the film hits cinemas. The party line is that the villain’s name is John Harrison but the internet is ablaze with speculation that the name is merely an alias for either Khan or Gary Mitchell – another foe of Kirk’s, who developed god-like powers. There’s even one theory doing the rounds that he’s playing regular TOS extra Harrison (http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Harrison) who did appear in ‘Space Seed’ with Khan Noonien Singh. Perhaps it’s Spock’s half-brother Sybok in disguise – what does Sherlock need with a starship?

At the BFI screening in London this week Cumberbatch described Harrison as a homegrown, massively intelligent terrorist and a “one man weapon of mass destruction.” The actor also said he believed in keeping secrets out of trailers so the movie remains a surprise. Reading between the lines the name John Harrison could very well be red herring, either way we aren’t going to stop guessing but there’s little to go on from the footage bar him looking a bit menacing.

3. Running is excellent cardio

Oh Jim, you naughty little scamp. After our first glimpse of Clarke’s potentially Faustian pact with the villain, the action cuts to rather Raiders Of The Lost Ark- like chase sequence where James T (also his rap name) is running through the red forest of class-M planet Nibiru, away from some rather angry locals with large black eyes, covered in white war paint and throwing spears at their heads. He’s only gone and nicked a sacred scroll. Classic Jim.

Bones joins the chase and while Spock reminds his captain over the comm-link about the Prime Directive’s staunch policy of non-interference, the pair leg it with the scroll as a distraction that gets the indigenous people away from what looks like a very active volcano. Once far enough away, the pair drop the scroll on a tree for it to be worshipped and jump off a cliff into the sea. It’s almost as if their way out is hiding under the water.

4. Spock and Uhura are still an item

While Kirk and McCoy are pegging it away from angry Prometheus Engineer cosplayers, Spock is getting into an environmental suit aboard a shuttlecraft piloted by Sulu. Uhura gives his suit helmet a kiss so those two are clearly still an item. Spock is then lowered into the volcano carrying a case which contains a device to stop the eruption and save the planet. The cable anchoring his suit to the shuttlecraft snaps and while Sulu and Uhura ditch the shuttlecraft and get ready to swim, Spock falls into the heart of the volcano.

5. The Enterprise can function underwater but against Scotty’s better judgement

Kirk, Bones, Uhura and Sulu make it back to the Enterprise, which has been hiding underwater leaving Simon Pegg’s Scotty to fret over what the salt water will do to the hull and getting a bit spooked by passing fish. The crew mull over options but Spock’ fate is not looking good: the device will stop the eruption and save lives but at the cost of his. The transporter won’t work, the shuttle is no longer an option and the Enterprise is too large to escape unnoticed by the people.

6. Direct links to Wrath Of Khan

For a film that’s been trying to evade one too many links with Khan, it’s certainly not shying away from references to The Wrath Of Khan. With his crewmates racking their brains to save him, Spock says “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” That’s right internet, they went there.

When radio contact is lost, Kirk asks what Spock would do. “He’d let you die.” Oh Bones, you’re such a charmer. Time is running out and back in the volcano Spock activates the device as the activity around him becomes more violent, closes his eyes and stretches out his arms like he’s accepted his fate. And of course that’s where the preview ends. Curses.

But that wasn’t all we learned…

7. Alice Eve is definitely Carol Marcus

After the nine minute excerpt was over, producer Burk and actors Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch took questions. Eve confirmed that she was playing Carol Marcus from TOS and The Wrath Of Khan, and that her blue costume in the latest trailer was a bit of a giveaway that she was playing a doctor.

8. About 40 minutes of the movie were shot in IMAX

Producer Bryan Burk announced that 40 minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness was shot using IMAX cameras.  Eve joked that working with the noisy and temperamental cameras, which can only shoot 90 seconds of film at a time, was like working with a “child or an animal”.

9. Benedict Cumberbatch auditioned on an iPhone

The Sherlock star revealed that his audition for JJ Abrams was recorded on an iPhone in a friend’s kitchen. He sent in his uploaded video only to be told that JJ was on holiday.

10. Simon Pegg, Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch watched TV together on set

Simon Pegg wasn’t at the screening because he’s off filming The World’s End with Edgar Wright, but in his recorded intro message he said that the three Brits watched telly together while the American’s called them quaint.

Star Trek Into Darkness is due in cinemas 17 May 2013. Pick up the first film on DVD for £5.09 or Blu-ray for £8.79 from Amazon.co.uk.