Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Star Trek: four full scenes and new trailer reviewed
Den Of Geek reports from the world-first screening of four complete scenes from the new Star Trek movie, as introduced by JJ Abrams and Simon Pegg. Huge spoilers...
I've just been to see twenty minutes of footage from J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. We were told by Chris Hedges - head of Paramount UK - and Rob Moore, vice-president of Paramount pictures, that we 400-odd journos were the first people in the world to see the footage. A very disarming Abrams himself was there, as was Simon Pegg, the new 'Scotty'; both were on-form but clearly very nervous, and both addressed the gathering, Abrams at length. After joking that he'd never been a big fan of Star Trek, Abrams went on to explain how he'd followed the franchise through the original TV and film series, and through the later spin-offs, and intimated that his movie would be the first time that the 'promise of adventure' would actually be realised. He may be right: the viewing started with the new trailer, which will be in cinemas Friday, followed by four scenes from the movie itself, all complete with polished SFX and scoring.
And it all looks absolutely amazing.
Anyone prepared to withstand some major spoilers can check below for details of these scenes. For those leaving it here and saving themselves for the movie, let me say that the footage screened today is just sensationally great. Pine is good as Kirk, Urban is UNCANNY as McCoy, Quinto has got Spock's icy reservation and underlying anger nailed, the effects look more like GREAT model-work than ropey CGI and I'm just about as impatient for May 2009 as I can be...
NUCLEAR-STRENGTH SPOILERS BELOW. BE WARNED!
The trailer for Star Trek starts off looking more like a 70s road movie, as a young Kirk drives a beat-up old Chevy round the ranges of Iowa in search of a few thrills before over-estimating his own braking power. Pretty soon his wheels are plunging a few thousand feet and he's being rescued from a literal cliff-hanging situation by a rather robotic-looking Iowa traffic cop, who's just descended from his floating ride to help the young rebel out. They're really going for the 'bad boy' bit with this Kirk, as we shall find out in the full-length scenes.
Much of the content of the rest of the trailer contains material covered in the scenes that we were shown afterwards, and the slow Kirk-in-trouble scene quickly gives way to the usual epilepsy-inducing quick-cuts, showing some pretty spectacular space battles, the Enterprise under construction in the fields of Iowa (being regarded by an awed Kirk, not yet enrolled in Starfleet), a roll-call of all the returning characters and…Uhura (Zoe Saldana) stripping down to her bra (for some reason - I'm not complaining, it's a very nice sight, but it's a bit of a cheap shot for a film with this much going for it). The trailer concludes with Romulan villain Nero (Eric Bana) declaring portentously 'The wait is over'….
THE FIRST SCENE: Kirk's bar-fight
The first scene shows Kirk getting his arse totally kicked by some Starfleet squaddies who were letting off steam in a nightclub near the Enterprise site. The squaddies were in fact trying to defend Uhura from Kirk's persistent and relentless pestering, It's a far more intense chat-up than you would ever have guessed from the Shatner-Nichols dynamic, and at one point Kirk makes mention of Uhura's famous linguistic skills, descending to some sub-TOS innuendo with the line "It must mean you've got a magic tongue".
Anyway pretty soon the belligerent squaddies are telling Tiberius to back off. There being only four of them against one of him, Kirk tells them to come back with four more…to make it an even fight! After a bit of a scuffle - during which Kirk ends up inadvertently holding Uhura's breasts before she sends him back into the fray - the squaddies totally whip Kirk, and at the end he's pinned to a table having his face violently pummelled by the lead squaddie, before being rescued by Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), who's slated as the first captain of the Enterprise.
The following section zips to ten minutes later. Kirk is sitting opposite Pike with cotton wool stuffed up his nose to stop the bleeding, while Pike remonstrates with him for being constantly in trouble and failing to enlist in Starfleet in spite of his genius-level test scores. "You could have your own starship in eight years", he promises. The scene concludes with Pine reminding Kirk that his own father was captain of a starship for only 12 minutes and managed to save over 800 lives - including Kirk's mother - in that time…and he challenges Kirk to do better.
THE SECOND SCENE: An ill Kirk tries to warn Pike of danger
Abrams prefaced this scene by informing us that - after the preceding scene - Kirk continues to get into trouble after his enrolment in Starfleet, and that when all the other graduates have been assigned starships, he is assigned none. Kirk's friend Doctor McCoy (Karl Urban, who REALLY nails DeForest Kelley's voice and mannerisms) manages to get him on board Pike's first run with the Enterprise by invoking Federation Rule 691, which states that a doctor can bring on board any person who he deems to be in need of treatment. In order to qualify Kirk for this loophole, McCoy gives him a nasty but non-lethal virus.
As we join the scene, Kirk's looking pretty ill as McCoy drags him over to a bed in a very spacious and cool-looking sick-bay. McCoy gives Kirk something to allay the effects of the virus, but Kirk has an allergic reaction to it and his hands swell up like Mickey Mouse's.
Over on the bridge, Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin) tries to log on with voice-identification, but the Enterprise computer won't let him until he can pronounce his V's properly.
Chekov announces to the crew that there is a catastrophic electrical storm on Vulcan, and that the Enterprise is running to the rescue. But Kirk recognises the description of the storm as identical to a Romulan attack that took place at the time of his birth, and is determined to warn Captain Pike that he is warping into a terrible trap.
Kirk tracks down Uhura, not yet a fixture on the bridge, and tries to convince her to help him, but then the virus/palliative causes his tongue to stop working! McCoy eventually manages to stabilise him so that he can talk to Pike.
Confronting Pike with the information on the bridge, a very disapproving Spock tries to have the brash young graduate taken off by security, but Kirk is able to persuade both Spock and his captain of the danger they're in.
Dropping out of warp-speed, the Enterprise instantly finds itself navigating the hulks and wrecks of the aftermath of a huge space-battle. This is no natural phenomena…
THE THIRD SCENE: Meeting Nimoy's Spock and Pegg's Mr. Scott
Abrams prefaced this scene by explaining that Kirk's continuing impulsiveness has forced Spock - now in command of the Enterprise - to exile him temporarily on an unnamed location. Here Kirk is met by...Spock! This time it's Leonard Nimoy, who has been aged even beyond his 77 years to play a Spock that has travelled back in time to change the course of history.
As we join the scene, Nimoy's Spock is leading Pine's Kirk to meet Pegg's Mr. Scott, who has been similarly exiled, and is in belligerent mood. Scott has a big scene here, talking with some annoyance about his efforts to effect matter transference onto a ship that is travelling at warp-speed. This is something Kirk and Scotty need to know if they are going to use Spock's handy transporter terminal to get back into the action.
Nimoy informs Scott that his future self will solve the problem of 'beaming up' between speeding ships, and even shows him the formula he is destined to work out. The engineer declares (against the evidence). "Of course! I never would have thought of space as a moving force!".
Old Spock informs Kirk that he will need to get Young Spock's command revoked with the old 'unfit for command' ruse we have so often seen in Star Trek, and that he should do this by getting Young Spock emotionally off-balance. Old Spock declares that it will not be difficult, and that he himself is like that (suggesting that Spock has seen himself in this way his whole life).
As Kirk and Scotty get into the transporter, Kirk playfully accuses Old Spock of cheating by travelling back in time to change the course of events. "I learnt it from a master", Spock rejoins. Ouch.
THE FOURTH (FINAL SCENE): Stopping the Romulan drill on Vulcan
Here Kirk and Sulu are in a drop-ship (inside it's very similar to the drop-ship from Aliens) along with a security officer called Olson. Sulu and Kirk are wearing blue-ish space-suits, but Olson's of course, is red.
Olson will be dead in three minutes.
The mission for our heroes is to stop the chain-like drill that is hanging twenty miles down from an orbiting Romulan ship from completing its work and creating the singularity that will engulf Vulcan. Vulcan only has minutes left before the Big One, and Mr. Spock gives Chekov the helm and beams down to the surface to save the Vulcan senate - including his parents. Meantime he has given orders to have Vulcan evacuate as far as possible in the minutes remaining.
Back at the rescue mission, Kirk, Sulu and Olson are dropped off and free-fall down the endless miles of space-chain. It's undoubtedly the longest parachute jump ever committed to film, and it's totally spectacular.
The chain has a number of interstitial platforms, and poor Olson comes a cropper of one of these after deploying his parachute, and ends up a blot on the landscape. Meantime Kirk and Sulu fight Romulans on the rusting platform/link suspended 4 miles above the Vulcan surface. To make matters worse, there's a vent near them that blasts a decimating wave of energy out every few minutes, so they have to fight around it.
Kirk once again finds himself hanging above a huge drop by his fingernails, with his Romulan adversary trying to stamp on his feet and get him off the ledge. Luckily for Kirk, Sulu's amazing sword - which unfolds to full-length from the handle like a light-sabre, but is made of metal - downs the Romulan nasty, and Sulu pulls Kirk up. Sulu saves Kirk? Huh?
Fear not, it will be repaid with interest in moments. Nero reveals that the interference of Kirk and Sulu has come too late - the singularity is in place. The Romulan ship lets the chain go and Kirk and Sulu find themselves about 60 seconds from becoming part of the rocky Vulcan landscape.
On the Enterprise, they're having a bit of trouble beaming our heroes up. "Try and stay in one place", shouts the transporter officer. Not easy when you're plummeting at maximum velocity. It looks like the end, but not so, for young Mr. Chekov is sure that he knows the technique for beaming up moving objects, and fights his way through the confusion on the Enterprise to rescue Kirk and Sulu just as they are about to become bug-blatter.